By reading services I mean services that make print materials accessible for eligible persons and provides access to this content by means other than radio broadcasting and using specialized receivers. Examples of such services are NFB Newsline, NLS BARD, the Braille Institute's Telephone Reader Program, etc.
I understand that these programs make copyrighted material available exclusively to people who can prove that they have eligible disabilities (i.e., they have to register and use secret credentials to listen to the content).
It seems though that the copyright law of the U.S. does not explicitly permit this use case, and I base this on what I have found so far:
17 U.S. Code § 110(8)
[It is not infringements of copyright when a] performance of a nondramatic literary work [is transmitted] through the facilities of:
This section specifically refers to radio reading services that have a long history in the U.S., but none of the cited sections include phone systems or mobile applications.
17 U.S. Code §121 & 17 U.S. Code §121A
NOTE: Mentioning these two together as the latter is the an extension of the former with regards to jurisdiction of member countries of the Marrakesh Treaty.
“Phonorecords” are material objects in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term “phonorecords” includes the material object in which the sounds are first fixed.
“Copies” are material objects, other than phonorecords, in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term “copies” includes the material object, other than a phonorecord, in which the work is first fixed.
Both terms are defined as "material objects" which I would interpret as palpable, physical objects such as the specialized equipment of the NLS (i.e., USB cartridges and talking book machines) but mere files (e.g., digital audio recordings) would not belong to this category. This answer also supports this notion.
Unless, the alternate interpretation of "files stored on a physical storage device" (which is always the case) is also acceptable; this way,
- the service's servers store the files on their hard drive (or other storage device)
- the user usually downloads it to a storage device (e.g., hard drive, USB stick)
- the mobile app that caches the file from the service's server is a non-physical container similar in function to the USB cartridges (as in specialized access)
The reasoning in the first two items seem week, but I would compare them to when someone borrows a book from a library and reads it in public.
Please educate me if I'm misinterpreting the above parts of the U.S. code and/or missed relevant sections of it that pertain to these use cases.