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NLS Leads International Effort to Set Talking-book Standard for Protecting Information Copyrights

For Immediate Release:
August 16, 2005
Contact: Robert E. Fistick
(202) 707-9279 or

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, has brought together a panel of international experts to develop a universal system for protecting copyrighted information that is distributed to library patrons in the form of digital talking books. Digital rights management is required by the Chafee Amendment, which modifies copyright infringement laws for not-for-profit organizations who reproduce and distribute books for blind and physically handicapped readers, as long as special formats are used.

"Digital rights management utilizes encryption to allow access to digital book files by eligible readers only," says Michael Moodie, NLS deputy director. "In our system, anyone who is an NLS patron gets the key to unlock the book. The general public will not be able to read it."

Participating in the cooperative working group on digital rights management are software engineers, hardware and software manufacturers, and consultants from the United States, Canada, Denmark, and Sweden. The world's leading experts on digital talking books are on the committee. Many of them were instrumental in creating the original standards for digital talking books. The committee has solicited feedback and recommendations from consumer groups and publishers.

In December, the committee is expected to complete specifications for a digital rights management tool that will be used to enforce international standards. Once final, the specifications will be sent to a vendor to begin work on the software-based equipment. This effort moves NLS one step closer to its goal of converting the cassette audiobook system to a digital format by 2008.

More than 23 million copies of recorded and braille books and magazines were circulated to a readership of 799,718 in 2004. The International Union Catalog provides access to 423,500 titles (19 million copies). Audiobook readers borrow an average of 31 books and magazines a year. Braille readers average 20 books and magazines a year.

An overview of the NLS digital talking-book project may be found in Current Strategic Business Plan for the Implementation of Digital Systems at For enrollment information, visit or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

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Posted on 2011-01-10