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Disability and the Indian Copyright Amendment Bill, 2010


Disabled persons are routinely made invisible in Indian society, and the structural and societal support they receive is extremely limited – where such support exists at all. Thus far, in Indian Copyright Law, there has been no provision under which works protected by copyright could be legally reproduced in alternative formats which were accessible by persons with one or more disabilities. This is a situation which the Indian Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2010 (the ‘Amendment Bill’) has attempted to address. However, there have been concerns about the manner in which the Bill attempts to do so. The subject of disability demographics presents several challenges and there appear to be no accurate statistics available with reference to the precise numbers of persons who are prevented from enjoying and using copyrighted works to the maximum possible extent by reason of their disability.

According to the 2001 Census, there were 2.19 crore persons with disabilities in India. Although this figure does not indicate what percentage of the population is disabled in a manner which would impede the enjoyment of copyrighted works, even if one were to make an educated guess, the number of such persons in India would be several million. As such, it is indeed welcome to see, in the Amendment Bill, provisions which seek to make available copyrighted works to disabled persons in accessible formats. What is, however, disheartening is to find that the relevant provisions in the Bill simply do not appear to address the needs of disabled persons in a comprehensive manner. [Neither does it adequately address the concerns of copyright owners.]

Read the entire piece at SSRN here.
(This post is by Nandita Saikia and was first published at