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.

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Companies: access copyright

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

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Ryan says:


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.

Gracey (user link) says:

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.


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….

Anonymous Coward says:

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

BruceLD says:


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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