May 11, 2012
In a joint press release issued on April 16th, Access Copyright and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) announced they had negotiated a model license that purportedly allows universities to reproduce copyright protected materials in both print and digital formats. The agreement includes an astonishing increase on per-student fees of more than 600%, and has unprecedented and vague monitoring and surveillance requirements that may seriously compromise privacy and academic freedom. The agreement also contains the creation and assignment of fictitious rights to Access Copyright that do not exist under Canadian copyright law.
Under the agreement, universities and colleges will see a steep increase in payments to Access Copyright, which in many cases will be passed on to students by way of new ancillary fees. The agreement charges royalties to institutions at the rate of $26 per full-time student, up from previous agreements in which $3.38 per full-time student was paid in addition to course pack fees. Access Copyright rationalizes the increase based upon new digital rights added to this agreement. It does not account for the price of these new digital reproduction rights, and the fact that they are largely redundant. Universities have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to publishers directly to obtain online access to these materials including e-journals and e-books. Institutions that sign on to the agreement will be forcing their students to pay several times over for the use of copyrighted materials already licensed through direct-licensing with publishers.
The agreement creates and assigns new rights to Access Copyright that do not exist in copyright law, such as redefining “copy” to include “posting a link or hyperlink”. This will cause universities and students to pay yet again for linking to already licensed materials as well as for linking to articles that are freely available on the Internet. Additionally, this broad definition of copying, which encompasses email and Internet use, combined with unprecedented surveillance and monitoring powers granted to Access Copyright, will invariably lead to infringement upon student and faculty privacy. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has noted many privacy and academic freedom concerns in its own objections to the agreement stating that “because the license defines copying to include transmission by electronic mail and storing, posting, displaying, uploading and linking to digital files, the survey instruments will require intrusive monitoring of professors, librarians, researchers and students”.
The Manitoba Library Association urges universities and colleges to reject this terrible deal and not capitulate to Access Copyright's unreasonable demands. The MLA joins with many groups across Canada who have expressed their concerns on this proposed agreement including the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Atlantic Provinces Library Association, the Canadian Federation of Students, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Library Association
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