(October 2010)The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is considering various Treaty proposals that would allow export of Braille renditions of Copyrighted materials made legally in one country to other countries … Various NGOs, Publisher interests, and governmental IP offices are either ‘for’ or ‘against’ such measures… the next WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright Related Issues (SCCR) is for NOV 8-12, 2010.

We maintain that EXISTING laws in both UK and USA allow for such exportation of Copyrighted material even though there has never been any definitive legal interpretation … So, the ‘Salt March’, as with Gandhi’s March-to-the-Sea in 1930 to challenge the Salt Laws, will challenge such copyright measures: We will assume our interpretation as below is correct and it will be up-to-them to prove otherwise.

In addition to using the UK (VIP) Act 2002 — as described in the letter below — we may also work on a challenge to the export of Copyrighted materials made under US Copyright Act Section 121 ‘Chafee Amendment’.

According to Jamie Love of Knowledge Ecology Int’l.: “It is arguably already the case that imports and exports are allowed under the U.S. law, although the legal uncertainly has apparently deterred people from importing or exporting works created under exceptions,” (USCO Comments; NOV 2009).

Also Bookshare.org (June 2010, Beneblog.com) has stated that export (and import), under US Copyright Law has never been authoritatively interpreted and any such effort cannot be on a “.. try it and see if you get sued” basis.

[ to which I later replied: Try-it-and-see-if-you-get-sued is how things often work in the legal arena and takes someone or some organization willing to put themselves at-risk to establish a test case or precedent… ]

The US Copyright Office has in fact gone on record that an ‘Authorized Entity’ is exempt from export restrictions mentioned in the Copyright Act at Section 602…

However, for now, as long as the work is published in UK and covered by UK Copyright provisions, the UK 31A provisions of the 1988 Copyright Act should be sufficient if the recipient meets the requirements of that Section 31A.


Dear xxx, InternationalPublishers.org  (and to other Publisher interests)–

My name is John Edwin Miller. I am a US Library of Congress Certified Braille Transcriber.

Under Section 31A of the UK Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons ) Act 2002, a Braille copy can be made of a literary or dramatic work which is qualified for UK Copyright Law protection so long as the as the qualified visually-impaired recipient has “lawful possession” or “lawful use” of a hard copy version of the book. According to the RNIB:

If you are visually impaired, you can make, or ask anyone to make for you, a single accessible copy of anything of which you have “lawful possession” or “lawful use”.

This can cover anything that you have bought, been given or lent, or that is held in a library that you are eligible to use.


While there have been published statements — among them by Pinsent Masons, LLP (UK) and the RNIB itself —  that the Copyright (VIP)Act 2002 does not allow for export of a (Braille) copy of a book to a qualified visually-impaired person outside of the UK, that language is nowhere mentioned in the 2002 Act itself and only comes into play via the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd(CLA) VIP mandatory license which applies solely to copies made by organizations under provisions of 31B.


2.1.2 distribute Licensed Copies to Authorised Persons within the United Kingdom;

The mandatory Licensing scheme for a 31B organization is contained in 31D:

31D(1) Section 31B does not apply to the making of an accessible copy in a particular form if— (a) a licensing scheme operated by a licensing body is in force …

Pinsent Masons at  http://www.out-law.com/page-10059

— (Also), the UK law, like equivalent laws in other countries, does not allow the supply of a digital book to a customer overseas.

(A representative of) European and International Campaigns Manager, RNIB  (via DAISY Planet, June 2009), states that RNIB as a 31B organization under the CLA licensing scheme:

“If we make an accessible version of a book in the UK and want to send that to another English-speaking country where they don’t have the resources to make books accessible, we should be able to do that,” Pescod said.

“But the copyright law as it stands doesn’t allow the transfer of that accessible info. The exceptions in place in national legislations stop at the border.

In contrast, the US Copyright Act at Section 121(d)(2) ‘Chafee Amendment’ specifically states that the any qualified recipient mustbe a US citizen or with other residency status as defined in the 1931 Pratt-Smoot Act (which established in that year the Division for the Blind at the Library of Congress now know as the NLS).
Therefore, if a person in Thailand — who is registered with the Thai Government as a person who is blind or visually impaired — or Spain, or South Africa, or Gibraltar has “lawful possession” or “lawful use” of a hard-copy version of a book first published in the UK or otherwise qualified for Copyright Law protection by the (UK) Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, I will proceed on the basis that I can lawfully and without infringement make for that person a digital Braille BRF copy of that book so long as I and that person continue to be in full compliance with provisions of Copyright (VIP)A 2002 31A.Thank you.

John Edwin Miller (JEM)

Attachment: (VIP)A 31A Braille Header for To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee


This Braille transcription is made under the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002, an act to permit, without infringement of copyright, the transfer of copyright works to formats accessible to visually impaired persons, as specified in Section 31A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 of the United Kingdom.

Copyright 1960 by Harper Lee. Published by Heinemann, London, 1960.

Transcribed 2007 by John Edwin Miller

Volume One of 3 Volumes


For Mr. Lee and Alice
in consideration of Love & Affection

Lawyers, I suppose, were children once. — Charles Lamb