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Copyright and Copying for Disabled People

This page provides guidance for SOAS staff and students on the aspects of copyright law which relate to copying for disabled people. It focuses on the production of "accessible" copies: copies which are designed to provide better access for disabled people. This guidance will assist:

  • Staff who want to produce copies for disabled students.
  • Disabled students who want to understand what copyright law means for them.
  • Services which SOAS may develop to produce "accessible" copies for disabled students.
  • Disabled staff who may be interested in accessible copies of materials
Doesn't the law allow us to copy anything for a disabled person?

Disability legislation does not override the legal rights of copyright owners. SOAS cannot copy items in ways which are not permitted by copyright law or the School's copyright licences.

The government has passed legislation which allows additional copying (beyond what would normally be permitted) for certain types of disabled people: the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002 (VIPA), which amends the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. SOAS's photocopying and scanning licence with the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) also includes provisions relating to copying for the disabled, which in some respects are more generous than the legislation. Both VIPA and the provisions in the licence are concerned with the production of "accessible" copies.

What is an "accessible" copy?

An "accessible" copy is one which has been produced in order to give a disabled person better access to a work, in terms of their disability. VIPA defines an accessible copy as "a version which provides for a visually impaired person improved access to the work".

The following are possible examples of accessible copies:

  • A Braille, large-print or audio version of a book, produced for a visually impaired person.
  • A scanned copy of a work produced for a person who has a disability which makes it difficult for them to hold or manipulate a book.
  • An electronic version of a work with navigation features which make it easier for a disabled person to navigate around the document.

Accessible copies are intended to meet the needs of disabled people. A person who is not disabled should not receive an accessible copy, as this is not permitted by VIPA or by the CLA licence. The accessible copy should be appropriate for the person's disability: e.g. a large print version of a work should not be produced for a student who is deaf, unless the student also has a visual impairment.

What about copies which are not "accessible" copies?

Any copying which can be done by or for a non-disabled person under copyright law or SOAS's copyright licences can also be done by or for a disabled person. For example:

  • Disabled students and staff can copy extracts from books and journals in the SOAS Library under "fair dealing" for non-commercial private study or research.
  • Photocopies of extracts from some books, journals and magazines in the Library can be copied by disabled students and staff (and by staff for distribution to students) under SOAS's CLA photocopying licence.

Further guidance on what can be copied under "fair dealing" and under the CLA licence is provided in Copyright Guidance for SOAS Library Users.

Library staff can photocopy extracts from items in the Library for disabled students or staff under the provisions in copyright legislation which allow librarians to copy certain works for their users. A copyright declaration must be completed by the student or staff member, a fee must be paid, and there are limits on the amount that can be copied from published works (in general: one chapter or extracts up to 5% of a book; one article from a single issue of a journal or magazine). Photocopies produced in this way are not "accessible" copies, in that no special manipulation of the copy is involved. Further information on this and other services which the Library can provide for disabled students and staff is available in the SOAS Library's Disability Policy.

I want to produce an accessible copy for a student. What does the law allow me to do?

You have to decide whether you can produce the copy under VIPA or under the provisions in the School's CLA licence which relate to copying for disabled people. As the two frameworks overlap, in some cases both options may be available - so you will need to decide which one to use. Both are discussed in more detail below. Each has benefits and drawbacks:

  • VIPA allows an accessible copy to be produced from virtually any type of written or printed word, but only for students who are defined as "visually impaired".
  • Under the CLA licence, an accessible copy can be produced for any type of disabled student, but only from works covered by the licence.

On balance, it is probably best to use the CLA licence if possible, and to use VIPA if the student is visually impaired and an accessible copy cannot be produced under the CLA licence. Using the CLA licence avoids having to determine if the student's disability falls under VIPA. If using VIPA, a further issue is whether to produce the copy under the Act's provisions for one off copying or multiple copying: see What can I copy under the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act?

How can I produce accessible copies under the CLA licence?  

This section summarises the features of the CLA licence which relate to the production of accessible copies for disabled people.

Accessible copies can be produced under the licence from works which are covered by the licence (the photocopying part of the licence applies). For the purpose of producing accessible copies, a work will be covered by the CLA licence if:

  • The work is a book, journal or magazine which SOAS owns in hard copy format. Usually, this means that a copy should be in the SOAS Library, or we own a "copyright fee paid" copy purchased from a document supply service like the British Library; and
  • The book, journal or magazine was published in the UK, the USA or one of the following "mandating territories": Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada (including Quebec), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland; and
  • The work is not on the CLA's List of Excluded Categories and Works or the list of Excluded US Publishers.

Only works licensed by the CLA can be used to produce accessible copies under the licence. The following are not covered by the CLA licence:

  • Printed music.
  • Maps and charts.
  • Newspapers.
  • Unpublished works.
  • Books, journals and magazines in electronic form (e.g. e-books, e-journals).
  • Works on the CLA’s List of Excluded Categories and Works and list of Excluded US Publishers.
  • Works published outside the UK, the USA or the “mandating territories”.
  • Publications which include a statement that they are excluded from licences granted by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

It may be possible to produce an accessible copy from works in the above categories for a visually impaired student or staff member using the provisions in VIPA: see What can I copy under the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act?

The licence also stipulates that a suitable accessible version must not be commercially available (see How do I determine if an accessible copy is commercially available?). For example, if a student requires a large print version of a book and a suitable large print version can be purchased from the publisher, we are expected to purchase the commercially available version rather than produce our own.

Provided a work can be copied under the CLA licence:

  • An accessible copy can be produced for any student or staff member who is disabled (in the sense of the Disability Discrimination Act). Note that the licence does not cover copying for individuals who are not SOAS students or members of staff (e.g. external users of the SOAS Library).
  • The work can be copied into any format or medium which is necessary to make the work more accessible to the disabled student: e.g. it can be scanned, converted to Braille, converted to large print, used to produce an audio version etc. Any changes should not go beyond what is necessary to make the work more accessible.
  • As much of the work can be copied as is required to meet the needs of the disabled student. The normal extent limits of the CLA licence do not apply (but see below regarding copyright notices).
  • Multiple accessible copies can be produced from the same work, e.g. if more than one student requires the same type of accessible copy, or if different students require different accessible versions.
  • The disabled student can retain the accessible copy for the duration of their course, and after completion of their course for their own personal use.
  • SOAS can charge for the production of the accessible copy, but any charge must not exceed the cost of making and supplying the copy.
  • SOAS can keep a copy of the accessible copy, and use it to produce further accessible copies for other students.

Where an accessible copy is produced under the CLA licence, some administrative requirements of the licence have to be met. If the accessible copy is greater than the normal amount allowed by the licence for non-accessible copies, the copy should be annotated to include:

  • The title, name of the author, name of the publisher and edition of the original work.
  • The following notice: “This copy is made under a Copyright Licensing Agency licence for the personal use of a visually impaired or a disabled person and may not be further copied (including any electronic copying or transmission) or dealt with without permission or save as may be permitted by law.”

The normal copying limits of the licence are:

  • Books: one chapter or extracts up to 5% (whichever is greater).
  • Journals, magazines: one article or extracts up to 5% (whichever is greater).

Similar limits apply to other types of material (see Copyright Guidance for SOAS Library Users for further details). Rather than trying to determine whether an accessible copy falls within these limits, it may be advisable to insert the above information in all instances.

Note that if an accessible copy is produced by scanning the original, it is not necessary to report details of the item to the Information Compliance Manager (as is normally the case for items scanned under the licence) for inclusion on SOAS's return to the CLA. You do need to ensure that if the amount scanned goes beyond the licence's limits, the scanned copy should include the bibliographic details and copyright notice for accessible copies outlined above.

For information on "ordinary" scanning under the CLA licence (i.e. other than scanning to produce accessible copies), see Bloomsbury Learning Environment: Copyright Guidance for SOAS Staff.

What can I copy under the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act?  

VIPA amends copyright law to allow accessible copies to be produced for persons who are visually impaired. The Act overlaps with the CLA licence, which allows copying for a wider range of disabled persons, but of a narrower repertoire of works (see How can I produce accessible copies under the CLA licence?). VIPA contains separate provisions relating to one-off copying and multiple copying which are explained below. The following principles apply to any accessible copying which is done under the Act:

General requirements of VIPA: all types of copying  

An accessible copy can be produced under VIPA if:

(1) The copy is produced for a disabled person who is visually impaired. A visually impaired person is defined in the Act as one who is:

  • Blind; or
  • “Has an impairment of visual function which cannot be improved, by the use of corrective lenses, to a level that would normally be acceptable for reading without a special level or kind of light”; or
  • Is unable to hold or manipulate a book; or
  • Is unable to focus or move their eyes to the extent that would normally be acceptable for reading.

Other types of disability are not covered by the Act, e.g. dyslexia or cognitive disabilities. However, it may be possible to use the CLA licence to produce accessible copy for a disabled person who is not covered by VIPA (see How can I produce accessible copies under the CLA licence?).

(2) A suitable accessible version of the work must not be commercially available (see How do I determine if an accessible copy is commercially available?). For example, if a visually impaired person requires an audio version of a book and a suitable audio version can be purchased, we are expected to purchase that version rather than producing our own.

Provided the above conditions are met:

(1) Any literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work can be copied to produce an accessible copy, regardless of whether it was produced in the UK or overseas (for explanations of these terms, see What is Copyright? in Copyright Guidance for SOAS Library Users). Musical works must not be copied by performing the music (note that "musical works" means written music, not recordings of music). Databases, films, sound recordings and broadcasts may not be copied.

(2) As much of the work may be copied as is necessary to meet the needs of the visually impaired person.

(3) The accessible copy can be in any format which is required by the visually impaired person: e.g. Braille, Moon, audio, large print etc. Any changes (e.g. the addition of navigation facilities) should not go beyond what is necessary to make the work more accessible for the visually impaired person.

(4) A charge can be levied for the accessible copy provided it does not exceed the cost of making and supplying the copy.

VIPA allows two types of accessible copying:

  • One-off copying, which is essentially designed to meet the needs of an individual visually impaired person (although copies can be reused in certain circumstances);
  • Multiple copying, where more than one accessible copy of a work is produced to meet the needs of many visually impaired persons.

The two approaches are not exclusive: e.g. the multiple copying provisions could be used if an accessible copy was needed for a single user, but the intention was to retain the "intermediate" copy used to produce the accessible copy so that it could be used to make further accessible copies for other users. If VIPA is the only option (i.e. you cannot produce an accessible copy under the CLA licence), it is recommended that you:

  • Use the multiple copying provisions if the original item was commercially published; the item is owned by SOAS; and the accessible copy is being produced by a member of staff for a SOAS student or staff member. Although the Act's reporting and recording requirements have to be met, the student or staff member can retain the copy indefinitely, and SOAS can keep the "intermediate" copy used to produce the accessible copy as a template to produce further accessible copies.
  • Use the one-off provisions if the original item was not commercially published (e.g. unpublished archives); or it is not owned by SOAS (e.g. a book owned by a student or staff member); or the accessible copy is being produced by someone other than a member of staff (e.g. by a visually impaired student for their own use, or a friend or relative of the student); or the recipient of the copy is not a SOAS student or staff member.
Multiple copying under VIPA 

The following conditions apply if you want to use the multiple copying provisions in VIPA to produce accessible copies of a work for more than one visually impaired student:

(1) The general requirements of VIPA outlined above which relate to any type of accessible copying must be met. In addition:

(2) The original item must be a commercially published literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work which is owned by SOAS. "Commercially published" is not defined in the Act, but probably covers any work which was originally sold. Unpublished works cannot be copied under the multiple copying provisions in VIPA.

(3) The accessible copy must be produced for the visually impaired student or staff member by a SOAS staff member. This is because the multiple copying provisions of VIPA only cover copying which is carried out by educational institutions and non-profit bodies.

(4) The accessible copy must only be used for SOAS's educational purposes. Consequently, copies should not be supplied to persons who are not SOAS students or staff members (e.g. external users of the SOAS Library).

Provided these conditions are met:

  • The visually impaired person does not have to have possession of the original item, and can retain the accessible copy indefinitely so long as the original item is still owned by SOAS.
  • SOAS can keep any "intermediate" copy which is used to produce the accessible copy (e.g. a template), and can use it to produce further accessible copies for other users. SOAS may also be able to share the intermediate copy with other educational institutions and charities (contact the Information Compliance Manager for further advice on this).

Where multiple accessible copies of a work are produced under VIPA, the following administrative requirements have to be met:

(1) The accessible copy must be annotated with a "sufficient acknowledgement" of the source of the copy. This is not defined in the Act, but it is recommended that you give the author, title, edition, publisher and date and place of publication. In addition, the following copyright notice should be added:

"This is an accessible copy produced under section 31B of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988".

If the original work is a musical work published by one of the members of the UK Music Publishers Association, the above notice should be replaced with:

“This copy is authorised by [insert name of copyright owner as it appears on the original work] under the terms of the MPA Visually Impaired Persons Licensing Scheme”.

This is a condition of the licence issued by the Music Publishers Association for the production of multiple accessible copies of musical works for visually impaired persons (the terms of the licence are essentially identical to VIPA's multiple copying provisions). Members of the MPA are listed on the MPA's website.

(2) SOAS has to keep a record of each accessible copy produced under VIPA's multiple copying provisions, and the person(s) to whom the copy was supplied. These records can be inspected by copyright owners. Details of accessible copies produced for visually impaired students under VIPA's multiple copying provisions should therefore be reported to the Information Compliance Manager using the Multiple Accessible Copying Reporting Form (VIPA).

(3) The copyright owner of the original work or their representative must be informed that an accessible copy has been produced, within a reasonable period of time, if they can be identified. This will be done by the ICM using the data supplied on the Reporting Form.

One-off copying under VIPA 

The following points relate to VIPA's provisions for one-off or one-to-one copying, where an accessible copy is produced for an individual visually impaired person. As previously indicated, these provisions should be used in situations where it is not possible to produce an accessible copy using the multiple copying provisions – which, in some respects, are more convenient for visually impaired students and SOAS.

(1) The general requirements of VIPA outlined above which relate to any type of accessible copying must be met. Provided this is the case:

(2) Any published or unpublished literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work can be used to produce an accessible copy, provided the visually impaired person has lawful possession or lawful use of it. For example, it can be a book which a visually impaired student owns or a book in a library which they have access to.

(3) An accessible copy can be produced for any visually impaired person, including those who are not SOAS students or staff members.

(4) The accessible copy can be produced by the visually impaired person or by any other person on their behalf, e.g. by a member of staff, family member or fellow student.

(5) The original and the accessible copy must "stay together". This means that if the accessible copy is produced from a book in the SOAS Library, the visually impaired student must borrow the book and must hand back the accessible copy when they return the book. The visually impaired student cannot keep the accessible copy indefinitely unless they also own the original.

(6) If the accessible copy is handed back by the visually impaired student, SOAS can lend it out again to another visually impaired person along with the original.

(7) The accessible copy must be annotated with a "sufficient acknowledgement" of the source of the copy. This is not defined in the Act, but it is recommended that you give the author, title, edition, publisher and date and place of publication. In addition, the following copyright notice should be added:

"This is an accessible copy produced under section 31A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988".

(8) There is no requirement to record details of accessible copies or report this information to copyright owners, unlike with multiple copying.

Frequently asked questions

1. Does SOAS have a facility for producing accessible copies?

Not at present, but any staff member who is able to do so can produce a copy for a student under the CLA licence or the multiple copying provisions in VIPA, provided the requirements of the licence and VIPA are met. Anyone (including students) can produce an accessible copy for a visually impaired person under VIPA's provisions for one-off copying.

2. Who can accessible copies be produced for?

Generally speaking, only for SOAS students and staff members. However, an accessible copy can be produced for any visually impaired person (e.g. an external user of the Library) under VIPA's provisions for one-off copying.

Note that VIPA only allows copying for the visually impaired. Other disabilities (e.g. dyslexia) are not covered by the Act. However, an accessible copy can be produced for any type of disabled student or staff member under the CLA licence.

3. Do I have to tell someone that I've produced an accessible copy?

If you've used VIPA's multiple copying provisions to produce an accessible copy for one or more visually impaired students, you must report details of the copying to the Information Compliance Manager (see Multiple copying under VIPA for the form to use). This is necessary to meet VIPA's requirements for record keeping and reporting data to copyright owners. Accessible copies produced under the CLA licence or VIPA's provisions for one-off copying do not need to be reported.

3. Can the disabled person keep the accessible copy?

Yes, unless the copy was produced under VIPA's provisions for one-off copying, from a work which the visually impaired person does not own: e.g. a book on loan from the SOAS Library. In the latter case, the visually impaired person can only keep the accessible copy as long as they have possession of the original, and should hand back the accessible copy when they give back the original.

4. Can I keep an "intermediate" copy and use it to produce further accessible copies?

Yes, if the copy was produced under the CLA licence or VIPA's multiple copying provisions.

VIPA's provisions for one-off copying do not allow intermediate copies to be produced, but an accessible copy which is given back by a visually impaired person can be kept and handed out to other visually impaired people along with the original.

5. How do I determine if an accessible copy is commercially available?  

This is not specified in VIPA or in the CLA licence. Information about many accessible works is available through the RNIB Library Catalogue (which incorporates data from the former Revealweb website of accessible formats). It is recommended that you check the RNIB Library Catalogue and obvious sources, e.g. Amazon.

6. Where can I get further information and advice? 

Guidance on accessible copying and other aspects of copyright law is available from the Information Compliance Manager, who can be contacted at the following address:

Information Compliance Manager
Directorate
SOAS
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7898 4150
Fax: +44 (0)20 7898 4019
Email: copyright@soas.ac.uk

Other internal sources:

  • Advice on the SOAS Library’s services for disabled students and staff is available from the Library’s Reader Services Department (see the Library' Disability Policy for contacts).
  • The Student Disability Office provides advice and assistance for disabled students.

The following external sources may also be useful:

Last updated November 2008