Access Copyright Wants $45 From Every University Student For Copying & Even Linking To Copyright Works

from the linking? dept

One of the biggest problems we have with various collection societies is that, even if they're put in place for all the best reasons and run by folks with the best of intentions, over time they seem to have an insatiable appetite to grow and expand what they cover and the things they want to demand money for. We've seen it over and over again, with things like ASCAP demanding performance fees for ringtones or SOCAN (in Canada) claiming that 30-second song previews required a separate license (ASCAP tried that too...).

Sometimes these landgrabs reach absolutely ridiculous levels. Take, for example, the Canadian group Access Copyright, which charges students a copyright levy for photocopying documents. Right now, it apparently collects a few dollars per student, plus some per copy fee, that gets distributed to copyright holders. Howard Knopf, who is a member of Access Copyright, is horrified to note that the group is now asking to increase its fees by more than 1,300% to $45 per university student. Even though Knopf would conceivably get more money from this, he notes that this is a really, really bad idea. Not only is it ridiculously high, but Access Copyright wants it to cover some things over which it clearly has no rights whatsoever, including website links to copyrighted material:
Incredibly, the tariff defines a "copy" to include "posting a link or hyperlink to Digital Copy". So, that would presumably include any website with copyrighted material. For example, take this blog -- please! AC apparently expects to be paid whenever a professor posts a link on his or her website to my blog, or Michael Geist's blog or the Globe and Mail or eBay. That is simply absurd.

Merely linking does not create liability.... Linking requires neither permission nor payment. The Copyright Board should not even consider the issue of "linking", because it is not covered by copyright law. This issue is a non-starter and should be eliminated as soon as possible by the Copyright Board before a lot of time and money is wasted on it.

The same for "displaying" a copy on a computer. How, precisely, is one supposed to read anything otherwise? The concept of "display" does not occur in the Copyright Act, other than in connection with dry erase boards.
Knopf also notes that many of the other areas Access Copyright is seeking to use to cover with this exorbitant $45 fee includes areas that are clearly covered by fair dealing exceptions in Canadian copyright law, and for which there should be no fee paid whatsoever. The whole thing is clearly a landgrab for cash, and even though he might technically get bigger payouts from it himself, Knopf recognizes how ridiculous the whole thing is, and is suggesting people file comments expressing their displeasure with the plan. Comments are apparently due by this Wednesday, so if you're a Canadian, hurry up and make your voices heard. Knopf has the details of how to file your comments on his site.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 10:36am

    Um

    Do the words pound salt mean anything?

     

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      Benjamin, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 11:49am

      Re: Um

      I thought it was pound sand.

       

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        MrWilson, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 1:10pm

        Re: Re: Um

        "I thought it was pound sand."

        It was, but Access Copyright has claimed that common phrases are covered by their fees, so you have to make up new phrases if you want to avoid paying them $45, at least until your new phrase becomes popular, and then they own it.

         

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    crade (profile), Aug 9th, 2010 @ 10:39am

    "The concept of "display" does not occur in the Copyright Act, other than in connection with dry erase boards"

    Anyone know what this is about? Dry erase boards?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 10:43am

    "Howard Knopf, who is a member of Access Copyright"

    Even the bad guys realize they're too bad. More likely, he doesn't want this much evil because then they'd get too much attention. At a few bucks per student, their parasitism can go by mostly unnoticed.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 9th, 2010 @ 10:52am

      Re:

      Even the bad guys realize they're too bad. More likely, he doesn't want this much evil because then they'd get too much attention. At a few bucks per student, their parasitism can go by mostly unnoticed.

      Knopf isn't a bad guy by any stretch of the imagination. He gets this stuff. It's just that, as a professor, he's a member of the organization. He doesn't work there or anything.

       

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      crade (profile), Aug 9th, 2010 @ 10:57am

      Re:

      He may be a member of access copyright, but he is also the writer of a blog called Excess Copyright on which he regularly writes about how copyright and the orgs playing with it are going too far.

       

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 9th, 2010 @ 10:46am

    Yeah and

    I want $45 from Access Copyright every time I use something fairly, just to cover potential court costs.

    Which actually makes more sense when you think about it.

     

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    Ryan, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 11:22am

    Typical

    One of the biggest problems we have with various collection societies is that, even if they're put in place for all the best reasons and run by folks with the best of intentions, over time they seem to have an insatiable appetite to grow and expand what they cover and the things they want to demand money for.

    This seems to include a ton of groups, and I'm not even sure how to define what groups they are or what the effect is. Virtually every government bureaucracy for sure, and most anybody that is empowered by the government to collect or enforce.

    But then also most NGOs - unions, obviously, but take MADD. It was originally founded by a woman who wanted to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, but it was quickly hijacked by the power-hungry crazies that got governments to raise drinking ages, dramatically lower the legal BAL, increase punishment, etc. such that it has nothing to do with safe driving now and everything to do with power and vengeance. The founder quit.

    Or charities - most charities, I think, are much more about getting money than actually using it to improve the world, but I think the Susan G. Komen Foundation is becoming one of the worst. Breast cancer already gets far more money than it needs, to the detriment of all the other cancers. Everybody likes to wear pink even though it's pointless at this point, and the foundation sues other organizations that even use the color pink in conjunction with cancer.

    I liked the satirization of this effect in Network, in which the revolutionary group descends into a shouting match over the terms of their TV contract. Is there a name for this sort of thing? And don't say "greed"; if there is a more over-used, absolutely pointless adjective in the human language, I cannot fathom it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 11:28am

    Enough!

    When people start pulling $#!^ like this it is time to abolish copyright altogether.

    I bet there will be far more creation after copyright is abolished than now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 11:55am

    I just got my tuition statement today, the current Access Copyright fee is $16.45. So it is not just a few bucks, but yea...

     

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    NullOp, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    What...

    You would think some lawyers, somewhere would come out against this sort of stupid behavior. But, here in the Real World, its much more likely all the other lawyers will want to get in on the payout rather than do anything sensible.

     

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    Jay (profile), Aug 9th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

    Heh

    Even the Chamber of Commerce has rules like this...

    Source

    I believe they're still using the OECD report though.

    Source

    Most troubling when the government can't depend on new work, but ferret something already debunked by even the OECD.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 4:20pm

      Re: Heh

      Neither the US Chamber of Commerce nor the Global IP Center is part of the US government. They are lobbying groups that act in favor of businesses and copyright holders respectively. Just thought you should know.

       

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    Gracey (profile), Aug 9th, 2010 @ 1:11pm

    That whole thing is ridiculous. I actually believe in copyright (not as it currently stands however), but I wouldn't agree with AC - frankly I don't think students should have to pay any fee for using copies of anything if it's for educational or study purposes.

    I'm no writer, but when a student or teacher contacts me for permission to use my images, they not only get my permission, they get a letter of authorization that allows them to reproduce whatever they asked for, so long as it's for educational or presentation purposes.

    As for the linking...huh? Crap. Anyone can link to my site (yes, copyright contents) for no fee whatsoever, and why the hell should the AC collect any income from THAT? It's my site, not theirs. Thanks but no thanks. I am an anti-violence type of person, but I might join in if someone decided to stone the AC.

     

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    drew (profile), Aug 9th, 2010 @ 1:15pm

    Linking? really?

    So presumably, in the eyes of Access Copyright, putting references in your essays is also chargeable? FFS!

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 1:35pm

    and the p2pnet copyright link decesion ways in

    you should also make some referance to the fact tat a judge has stated that linking to INFRINGING material is the users choice not the person whom posts a link.

    Therefore this fee is actually illegal and i would gather someone should challenge its legality. A judge says its not the link whom should be at fault or pay its the user of said link and its up to them to pay you for a visit to infringing. NOW if the work is a link to a site thats legit and has rights to what is there.....YOU cant force anyone to pay, its actually against the law too. WHY students put up with this and dont sue them class action style is beyond me. And why the RCMP and csis aren't investigating fraud of the CRIA copyright collections that aren't paying artists is beyond me.

    ask john at p2pnet about the legal fight, and why they will back down cause one more WIN in court = precedent and they don't want to test the waters up here considering 84% dont want billc32 and 74% said they want lower copyright terms.

    THAT'S right no political party that sides with hollywood in canada will ever gain power....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 1:38pm

    and if gvign you the right to photocopy USE IT

    start doing it and posting up movie pictures and state at bottom that this is a educational experiment or something in real smalllllllll fine print

    also start posting printing off whole parts fo books do a chapter per friend then put together and WELLA
    this chapter photocopied by so n so and you ty them together and share

    SCREW THE GREEDYONES get your monies worth and when yore done with it give to another friend for a few bucks

     

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    BruceLD, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 1:56pm

    Subject

    So whose actually getting the money from these levies?

    *drum roll* The people that are getting the lions share of this money are...the executives of these "groups"!

    That's right. Even though they actually do absolutely nothing and don't give a dime out to compensate anyone, they pay THEMSELVES anywhere from $150,000 to $500,000 a year. And guess what else? They get expense accounts and all expenses paid for vehicles, airlines, hotels and everything else under the sun.

    I have no idea why the governments are not investigating them. I have no idea....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2010 @ 3:14am

    Demanding Money Under False Pretences

    When Access Copyright demands money for anything which is already explicitly available for free, then is not that demanding money under false pretences? Is not that illegal under existing Canadian law? So where are the police? Why are these bad guys not getting charged?

     

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