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Legal Basis For Bookshare

Bookshare is a Benetech initiative. Benetech operates Bookshare under an exception to copyright law called the Chafee Amendment (17 U.S.C. § 121), which makes Bookshare legally possible in the U.S. The Chafee Amendment allows us to provide copyrighted digital books as long as they are available only to people with bona fide print disabilities. The Bookshare site does not provide access to copyrighted works for the general public.

Although the copyright law exception requirements are clear, Benetech has exceeded these requirements to ensure broad support for the project. We have been working for more than a decade with the Association of American Publishers, the main American industry group, to address publishers’ concerns about the design of the service. Many publishers and authors have volunteered to share their works with the disability community through Bookshare, going well beyond the copyright exception. We are also working with leading libraries for people with disabilities, including the Library of Congress and Learning Ally (formerly RFB&D), to make it easier for qualified individuals to access our services. With extensive input from consumers, authors, publishers, and leading organizations, we have created a model for Bookshare that a broad array of interests can support.