2002 Conference Proceedings

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Jim Fruchterman

Alison Lingane

The Benetech Initiative
Building 23, P.O. Box 215
Moffett Field, CA 94035 - 0215
(650) 603-8880


Update on the Bookshare.org launch. Bookshare.org enables people with print disabilities to share scanned books, and dramatically increases the availability of accessible books. Demo included.

Bookshare.org Background

Less than 5% of books are in formats accessible to people with visual or other print disabilities. Bookshare.org was created to address this problem. Bookshare.org is a newly launched online community that enables individuals to share book scans. With tens of thousands of individuals across the United States regularly scanning books for their own use, and with school disability services investing significant resources to create accessible books for their students' use, sharing of this scanning effort will rapidly yield a large online library of accessible digital books.

How does it work?

Bookshare.org operates as an online community, in which members and volunteers build the book collection by submitting scanned books over the Internet. These books go through a few automated steps for basic quality improvement and a few manual verification steps. They are then made available for download by members in two specialized formats for the disabled - BRF (digital Braille), and DAISY, the digital talking book standard.

The books that are available for download reflect the diverse tastes of the community. Whether it's fiction, poetry, history, science, business, philosophy, or textbooks, a wealth of new reading materials is now accessible.

Copyrighted books are available for download from Bookshare.org only to U.S. citizens or residents who have a disability that affects reading. This includes people with visual impairments and learning disabilities that affect print reading, as well as those with mobility impairments. Members must provide written proof of disability, and pay a modest subscription fee. A digital rights management system helps ensure that these books stay within this community.

Bookshare.org takes advantage of a special exemption in U.S. copyright law that permits the reproduction of publications into specialized formats for the disabled, and meets the requirements of the relevant section of copyright law, 17 U.S.C. § 121:

* "... it is not an infringement of copyright for an authorized entity to reproduce or to distribute copies ... of a previously published, nondramatic literary work if such copies ... are reproduced or distributed in specialized formats exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities."
* "specialized formats" means Braille, audio, or digital text which is exclusively intended for use by blind or other persons with disabilities. Bookshare.org provides copyrighted books in digital Braille and the NISO/DAISY talking book standard.
* As a project of the Benetech nonprofit organization, Bookshare.org meets the definition of an authorized entity.
* Must bear a notice that any further reproduction or distribution in a format other than a specialized format is an infringement; and
* Must include a copyright notice identifying the copyright owner and the date of the original publication.


Update on Bookshare.org as of March, 2001

* Launch
* Number and types of books
* Number of members
* Key lessons learned


A demo of the main functionality will be given during the session.

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