The Blind Flaneur makes an important point in a recent blog post, Preserving the Futureâ€™s Creative Raw Material in the Public Domain. These days, authors and musicians protect their work online using Digital Rights Managment (DRM). DRM, however, almost always makes the content being protected inaccessible to the visually impaired. DRM is not inherently designed to block disabled users, but the implementations often effectively cut blind users off. DRM-protected content is restricted to software that can ensure that the content is not used inappropriately. Restricting the file format of the content may not allow blind users to access that content in accessible software.
As the Blind Flaneur points out, James Boyle has released his new book The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind, both in traditional paper format and as a freely accessible PDF file in the public domain. By not restricting the electronic version of his text, Boyle makes this book easily accessible to blind readers.
PDF is not a panacea. Only in the last few years has the tagged PDF format, which is the accessible version of the format, allowing relfowing for natural reading of enlarged text as well as access by screen readers, become available. Unfortunately, not all PDF software automatically produces properlytagged files. Several years ago, I posted about the problems with the way LaTeX, used to produce most scientifitc papers, produces PDF files,LaTeX: Changing the Font Size. There is also no way to go back and fix all the older, untagged PDF files.
Regardless of the problems with PDF, I look forward to more content buing palced into the public domain.If you find this post useful or interesting, please consider buying me a cup of coffee.