Last Updated: 01 Dec, 2023     Views: 11

If a person has a disability that means they have difficulty reading, hearing, viewing or comprehending a copyrighted work in a particular form, they may have the work shifted to a new format to enable them to have access.

This is a Fair Dealing exception under Part IV A of the Australian Copyright Act.

Exceptions allowing re-formatted copies

Fair Dealing exception 113E applies to the personal use of a person with a disability. Another special exception, 113F, applies to organisations assisting persons with disabilities (such as a library or the accessibility service of a university), which allows them to make copies on the behalf of people who need them.

There are some restrictions and conditions to note:

  • The copy made under this exception must only be for the use of the person(s) who require the format change for access and is not communicated to the public (e.g., placed on a website, emailed to others).
  • The copy can only be made if commercially available copies of the alternative format are not available for use within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price.
  • The creation of the format-shifted copy is not prejudicial against the interests of the copyright holder (for example, you can buy a copy of the work and have it format shifted, but should not shift the format to avoid buying the book).
  • The format-shifted copy is made from a legally acquired copy (i.e., not an infringing copy).
  • The amount should not be "significant", depending on the purpose and character of the dealing (for example, if the entire book is not required, only the relevant parts of the book should be copied).

TPMs and ERM

Works that are protected by technological protection measures (TPMs) and electronic rights management (ERM) also fall under the 113E and 113F exceptions, so it is legal for individuals and organisations to circumvent TPMs so long as their use falls within the scope of the exceptions. Be aware that some TPMs are designed to disable your ability to use the material if they have been circumvented, and may have flow-on effects stopping you from using other products. It is wise to approach the copyright owners and request permission to shift the format of TPM and ERM protected works.

Assistive technology

The use of assistive technology within devices to process material for your own personal use (such as apps in smart phones and tablets, or accessibility options built into browsers), is generally not considered to be a copyright infringement. However, other terms and conditions may apply, so check the conditions of use.

AccessAbility at JCU

The AccessAbility service at JCU is equipped to produce or source alternative formats for students with disabilities. Register with the AccessAbility service to access a range of support services - even if you only require them temporarily.