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Copyright Licensing

Copyright for visually impaired people

The Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002 allows exceptions to the usual copyright guidelines for photocopying and scanning. There are certain limitations to this, some of which are summarised here.

  • You can make whatever transcription, copy or format changes required in order to enable personal access to the work e.g. speech synthesis, braille, moon, large print, single voice recording (speech) or electronic file as long as you have lawfully obtained a copy of the published work, whether bought or borrowed.
  • Copies can be made on behalf of the person provided it is for personal use.
  • A non-electronic copy e.g. single voice recording (speech) or Braille copy may be borrowed or exchanged among visually impaired people as if it were the print original itself.
  • Electronic copies may be created and stored on a computer system for as long as required to enable personal use of the work while the original is retained. It may not however be made accessible and then passed onto a third party or posted on an intranet or on the Web.
  • Visually impaired people must respect the literary and artistic integrity of the work. They must not adapt, edit, alter, amend or distort the work other than as required to enable full access.

Under the act 'Visually Impaired Person' covers people who are blind; who have an impairment of visual function which cannot be improved by the use of correct lenses, to a level that would normally be acceptable for reading without a special level or kind of light; who are unable, through physical disability, to focus or move his/her eyes to the extent that would normally be acceptable for reading. This definition excludes dyslexia or other learning difficulties.

For further details please refer to the Copyright Licensing Authority Guidelines for Higher Education Institutions.

Further information about the Legislation is available from the UK Patent Office http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2002/20020033.htm.


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