by Randhike Cooray
Copyright in the modern age of technology is manifold, ranging from books and printed work to e-books, clips played on screen, acted out on a stage, music on the radio, software programmes, video games, lyrics of a song, paintings and so forth. Legal Copyright protection enables the author of copyright to reap the economic benefits of his or creation, acting as an incentive as it is the; “key to wealth in the age of information”. The law is the guardian of the interests of copyright owners, yet the law assumes the dual role of balancing the rights of other sections of the society vis a vis the economic rights of copyright owners.
The aim of the current study is to build up a strong case made in favour of the visually impaired community in Sri Lanka and to create an especial exception for them traversing beyond the concept of “fair use” which currently exists in copyright law that enables use of copyright work without reference to the owner in the interest of the general public.
The Sri Lankan Intellectual Property Act No. 36 of 2006 which includes a chapter on copyright law has engraved the concept of “fair use” with a tinge of elasticity required in practical application. Yet a clear exception for the personal use of visually impaired persons is a need of the hour and as an advancement of their rights to equality, education and information in the modern day of advanced technology. As a stepping stone, this paper defines visual impairment, evolution of the assistive technology and explores and compares the laws of progressive jurisdictions, mainly the UK, the USA, New Zealand and India that have created exceptions for the visually disabled persons, with the objective of lobbying for copyright law reform through the law Reform Commission of Sri Lanka.