New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Left parties on Thursday threatened to block an amendment to the Copyright Bill in Parliament if the government does not make changes to safeguard the interests of the visually impaired.
“The discriminatory provisions of the Bill must go,” said Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) leader Brinda Karat.
Arun Jaitley, BJP member and leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said his party was against the amendment in its current form.
The proposed amendment makes an exception in the law to allow the conversion of printed material in special formats like Braille and without any royalty or licence fees.
But many visually handicapped people have already moved on to electronic and audio formats such as screen-reading software and digital talking books.
The proposed Bill makes no exception for electronic formats and treats any digital conversion without permission as a copyright violation punishable under law.
Rahul Cherian, a copyright lawyer working with Inclusive Planet, a non-profit body, said the proposed amendment would deprive more than 70 million Indians with disabilities from exercising their right to education.
Shamnad Basheer, professor in intellectual property law at National University of Juridical Sciences, said it was ironical that education minister Kapil Sibal formed a sub-committee to sort out copyright issues between Hindi film-makers and writers and lyricists, but took no initiative to address the concerns of the visually impaired.