Chapter 12 Disability in EU copyright law
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With its broad, exclusive rights and narrow limitations, copyright has consistently posed obstacles to the production, distribution and availability of works in accessible formats, creating additional hurdles to the participation in cultural life and access to knowledge of persons with disabilities. Until recent times, legislators have largely ignored the problem, while the tightening of copyright norms and enforcement in response to digital threats frustrated the new opportunities offered by digitization. European Union (EU) copyright law makes no exception to this scenario. After a brief overview of the features and flaws of the market for accessible works, and of the constraints imposed by copyright law on their production and dissemination, this chapter provides a diachronic analysis of the regulatory solutions offered by the EU legislator from 2001 to date, assessing their strength and weaknesses. The chapter maintains a particular focus on the optional exception under Article 5(3)(b) of the InfoSoc Directive (2001/29/EC) and its national implementation, and the Memorandum of Understanding of 2011, as well as the Directive and Regulation implementing the Marrakesh Treaty, enacted in 2018.

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