The Digital Millennium Copyright
Act Is Even Worse Than You Think, By Blake E. Reid
It keeps e-books, online video, and more inaccessible to people with disabilities.
Published in Slate
Recently, the White House made about 114,000 new friends by agreeing that it should be legal to unlock your cellphone. In a response to a We the People petition, a White House adviser wrote that the Obama administration would work to address a recent decision by the librarian of Congress that made unlocking your cellphone illegal under the anti-circumvention measures of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The unlocking furor is just the latest example of popular opposition to the DMCA’s dreaded anti-circumvention measures. The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently issued a report arguing that over the last 15 years, the DMCA has impeded scientific research, innovation, fair use, and more. But among the DMCA’s many flaws is a significant one of which most people aren’t aware: For more than a decade, the act has imposed a barrier to access for people with disabilities. It hinders access to books, movies, and television shows by making the development, distribution, and use of cutting-edge accessibility technology illegal.
This article arises from Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture.