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Cabinet adopts bills targeting hurdles to e-book use in schools

JIJI

The Cabinet has adopted a bill that would allow digital textbooks to be used at elementary, junior high and high schools.

The government aims to get the legislation enacted during the current Diet session, with an eye to replacing some traditional textbooks starting in April 2019.

The students, including those with visual, developmental or other disabilities, would be allowed to use digital textbooks for all subjects via tablet computers and other devices.

The education ministry is exploring the full-scale introduction of digital versions of traditional textbooks in fiscal 2020, when guidelines for the new school curriculum will be fully introduced.

Also on Friday, the Cabinet approved a bill that would bypass copyright protections to make it easier for schools to distribute educational materials online.

The government hopes to get this bill passed by the Diet this year as well so it can become law by January 2019.

Current law on this issue requires that copyright owners grant consent for online distribution, though no consent is needed to distribute printed materials.

The bill calls for making consent for online distribution unnecessary if schools pay compensation to organizations to be designated by the commissioner for cultural affairs.