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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12183
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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I'm looking expert on digital rights management law! We are a small charity

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Hi I'm looking for an expert on digital rights management law! We are a small charity with an app to help people with macular degeneration read better using their peripheral vision. The app scrolls text from ebooks but we don't know if we can legally unlock the DRM encryption to access modern books. We can only currently use books that are out of copyright eg those in the Gutenberg project. It is often technically possible to get round the DRM but we're not sure of the law. Is this the sort of thing you can help with?
Cathy Yelf
Macular Society
Thank you for your question.
I am a solicitor in the UK with an interest in intellectual property law which is the branch of law concerned with copyrights and other similar matters.
If it is the intention to use ebooks within the App then you would need the consent of the copyright owners and unlocking the encryption to access the ebook would be challenge able as a breach of copyright.
On the other hand if the App was to be used in conjunction with the App that provided the ebook to start with and was a "helper" App then that would, obviously, not be the case.
What you have developed sounds very interesting and it may be that you would be wanting to talk to Amazon Digital, Apple etc about it. But you can't unlock a protective encryption legally without permission as that would be tantamount to breaching copyright.
I hope that helps.
Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for your answer. I've also been directed to this regulation - UK copyright and rights in performances (disability) regulation 2014 and another laywer has suggested that this regulation does permit an individual or body to access encrypted copyright material under certain circumstances. I'd be interested in your views.
Many thanks
I did have a look at this at the time. It allows charities to make accessible copies of copyright works and supply at no more than cost price to disabled persons, if, and only if, accessible-format copies are not commercially available.
My concern was that large print, Braille and audio books are already available commercially so that might exclude the possibility of breaking the encryption of an ebook.
However, having looked at the regulations again, which you can see online, and also the guidelines, I am inclined to revise my view as, whilst the guidelines certainly don't specifically deal with electronic encryption, the spirit of the regulations would appear to support your work.
See this link:
You could not, of course, exploit the app commercially or supply it generally. It would have to be for specific persons. Also, as with all new law proceed with caution as there are no prior cases on which to rely as regards ***** ***** the regulations.
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