Access Copyright Admits That It's Holding Education Hostage Unless Universities Pay Up

from the they-should-be-ashamed-of-themselves dept

We've written a few times about Access Copyright, the Canadian collection society that licenses universities and has them pay a per student fee in order to "pay" authors for all the photocopies and handouts professors make for students. Of course, it doesn't look like very much of that money ever actually makes it to the authors. In the meantime, being in a monopoly position, Access Copyright decided to jack up its fees. And they didn't just double or triple or even quadruple them. No, Access Copyright decided to go big and attempted to increase the per student fees by a whopping 1300%... and then tried to stifle objections to the plan.

In response to this, a bunch of universities decided opt-out of using Access Copyright, meaning that they all need to deal with making sure copies and coursepacks are properly licensed. Not surprisingly -- especially since this was all recently decided, just prior to the semester starting -- some universities are struggling mightily to deal with this and to make sure certain uses are cleared.

But what's really sickening is how Access Copyright appears to be watching this last minute scramble and laughing about it.
Erin Finlay, legal counsel for Access Copyright, said many of the issues that caused the breakdown in the relationship with the universities could have been resolved at the negotiating table. She said the institutions are putting students at a disadvantage.

"When an institution suggests that if you cannot clear this, if you can't get permission before you post it (online) you're not entitled to use it, or you have to find a substitute, or you have to find an open access substitute, I think that harms the educational experience, and I think it harms what we teach our children," Finlay said.

"There's a much easier way that allows access to all of the works and has allowed access to all of the works for the past 17 years, and that's through the Access Copyright licence."
This seems to be a flat out admission that Access Copyright is a monopoly that knows it's a monopoly and that it can charge outrageous monopoly rents, because there's no other game in town. And, really, it's ridiculously cynical to claim that its the universities' actions that are harming the educational experience. The universities wouldn't be doing this if Access Copyright hadn't jacked up the rates 1,300% in the first place... So, if Access Copyright claims that not providing works through it is "harming the educational experience," it has only itself to blame for offering such a bad deal.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    The eejit (profile), Sep 16th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    Where's Dick Turpin, the Flora Highwayman when you need him?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 16th, 2011 @ 1:30pm

      Re: Plants n shiznit

      There's a guy who's famous for stealing plants?

      Well, I learned something today.

      In other more pertinent comments:

      Business Opportunity for anybody who can whip up affordable (e?)books full of handy non-copyrightable facts!

       

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    monkyyy, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 1:45pm

    "1,300%"

    hmmm what could go wrong, even macs dont try that lvl of overpricing and they sell real hardware a good software if u can stand the locked down nature, and not.... what do these guys do? are they to blame for the current textbook costs?

     

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    Goyo, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 1:47pm

    When an institution suggests that if you cannot clear this, if you can't get permission before you post it (online) you're not entitled to use it, or you have to find a substitute, or you have to find an open access substitute, I think that harms the educational experience, and I think it harms what we teach our children,"

    Is copright law who says these things so is copyright laws who is harming the educational experience and the children.

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 16th, 2011 @ 1:50pm

      Re: Mirror mirror

      "Is copright(sic) law who says these things so is copyright laws who is harming the educational experience and the children."
      Isn't that alot like saying "It's the gun I'm holding and pointing at you which poses a danger. I myself am largely harmless and wouldn't even be here if not for this gun"?

       

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        Goyo, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 4:43pm

        Re: Re: Mirror mirror

        I don't think so. The gun can do little harm by itself. But copyrigth law in fact says that you are not entitled to use stuff without permission, no need for a guy pointing at the children --it can help to increase the harm though.

         

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    blaktron (profile), Sep 16th, 2011 @ 1:47pm

    ASCAP

    They truly harm students more than any other company I can think of out there. They plain don't care about our students.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 7:32pm

      Re: ASCAP

      You wonder why the U.S. is failing. Things like this are the reason why. If students go into the workforce less educated because everything is locked up behind paywalls then those students will know less and hence won't be able to innovate nearly as much when they finally become engineers and scientists. So what happens? All those jobs go overseas, in countries where they have knowledgeable employees that can do stuff. We fall behind because we don't know how to do anything because information is too expensive.

       

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    Punmaster (profile), Sep 16th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    Children? What children?

    Last time I checked, most of the affected schools were *universities*. Most of the students, therefore, are ADULTs, not children. Minor point, I admit, but it still bugged me.

    I hate it when people cry "think of the children" unnecessarily.

     

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      freak (profile), Sep 16th, 2011 @ 2:27pm

      Re: Children? What children?

      I really had to read again to figure out where Mike talks about children at all.

      And then I realized: It is finley, trying to convince people to buy into his protection scheme.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 1:59pm

    The stupid part is that Canada's copyright laws specifically give educational usage a pass. But the universities are so used to hearing bullshit from the industry (and likely government pressure from both Liberals and Conservatives) that they don't believe it, not to mention the hollow threat of legal action. I actually had to show my English professor the text of the Copyright Act before she made copies of a short story she wanted us to study because she thought making copies was illegal.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 2:04pm

    This is one you should cheer.

    "Sam Trosow, associate law professor at the University of Western Ontario, said there might be confusion on campuses for a while, but ultimately it's a good thing that universities are taking control of their own copyright issues.

    He said the institutions have been too risk-adverse when it comes to exercising their fair dealing rights."

    What happened to the usual take that the copyright mafia is doing themselves in? That telling the collection society to go jump in an icy lake is just what's needed?

    In any case, they're not yet to hostage stage, just switching to reviewing for copyright. I'll bet that few suits arise, so just calm down.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 2:29pm

    How did anyone not see this coming? My broken crystal ball predicted it a while ago... but honestly, no need for a broken ball. Who the hell does anyone give that power to only 1 company? Ah right, the same government that likes to break its own anti-monopoly rules.. I forget. /me goes sit in a corner.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

    "Holding Education Hostage"

    Is that sort of like waging a war on terror?

     

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    The Incoherent One (profile), Sep 16th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    Decisions should not be made simply because something is easy, but instead because it is the right thing to do.

    What Access Copyright is doing should not be allowed to occur. Trying to disseminate this type of information to students should not be this complicated, and is even more proof that the system is broken and needs to be fixed.

    I applaud those schools who have said they will no longer be held hostage by groups like this. I hope that they have the will to see this through and prove that companies like Access Copyright are not needed or necessary.

     

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    Zot-Sindi, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 3:22pm

    blah, how disgusting, what's worse is it's just typical behavior from the copyright bandits, i hope someday people just cut the last cable and get rid of copyright altogether

     

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      Zot-Sindi, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 3:25pm

      Re:

      When an institution suggests that if you cannot clear this, if you can't get permission before you post it (online) you're not entitled to use it, or you have to find a substitute, or you have to find an open access substitute, I think that harms the educational experience, and I think it harms what we teach our children," Finlay said.

      haha, ok, sure lady

      i like the intense irony of a copyright bandit talking about "harming what we teach children" when copyright is one of the most harmful things to teach children, i don't know if i will ever stop feeling sick about this whole situation

       

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    abc gum, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 5:20pm

    How is this not illegal?

     

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    Jason, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 6:36pm

    college degree

    Now I know why I pay a thousands for knowledge I could learn from having a three dollar library card.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 7:34pm

    "There's a much easier way that allows access to all of the works and has allowed access to all of the works for the past 17 years, and that's through the Access Copyright licence."

    Charging (higher) fees 'allows' for access to fewer products, services, and licenses, it's basic supply and demand.

    ABOLISH IP!!!

     

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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Sep 17th, 2011 @ 6:53pm

    Take off, you hosers!

    Eh?!

     

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    Jimmy the Geek (profile), Sep 18th, 2011 @ 7:27pm

    Open source education.

    Educators need to get together and write their own material. 10,000 English teachers could write a lot of open source English books. 10,000 Science teachers could write a lot of science books.

    Want your works to be even mentioned in college? You better be specifically licensing your works as free for education. Or you will disappear from history until your works enter the public domain.

     

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    Arthur Author, Sep 19th, 2011 @ 3:06pm

    What a swell idea!

    All the comments here seem to take the view that those who create, and invest in the creation of intellectual property should not be compensated for its use.

    Neat idea!

    Everyone knows that teachers work for free. And that the power company gives schools electricity at no cost. Just like car and truck makers, oil companies and drivers all kick in no- cost transportation to the education system. What else? Heat, insurance, telephone service, lab suppliers, furniture makers, construction companies - and let's not forget all the banks that extend zero-interest non-repayable loans to schools, colleges and universities. Wait! I forgot that all the custodial, administrative and maintenance workers willingly work for no compensation.

    It's only when you take all these well-known facts into account that the outrageousness of authors and publishers can be seen in their true light. How DARE they ask for money?!

    One more thing: we should also extend out gratitude to Ricoh, Xerox and all the makers of photocopiers, toner and paper who supply the schools gratis. Good fellas all.

     

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    Judith, Nov 30th, 2011 @ 10:23pm

    Sometimes you wonder!!

    I'm sure that a large part of the 1300% increase is the fact that lots of us are now cowering whenever we hear the term "copyright", with its legalistic and lawsuit overtones. Of course, this in large part can be attributed to recent years where copyright has really become a huge part of the new information sharing on the www.

     

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