More Canadian Universities Opt Out Of Access Copyright's Skyrocketing Tariffs

from the unfair-'deals'-are-paving-the-way-for-an-explosion-of-'fair-dealing& dept

Following up on the University of Calgary’s decision to drop Access Copyright after 1,300% rate increase, Michael Geist has compiled a still-growing list of Canadian colleges who have decided to opt-out of Acess Copyright’s increasingly expensive service.

As of July 29th, the list looks like this:

1. Columbia Bible College (BC)
2. Royal Roads University (BC)
3. Quest University (BC)
4. University of Calgary (AB)
5. Lethbridge College (AB)
6. University of Alberta (AB)
7. Mount Royal University (AB)
8. Portage College (AB)
9. Athabasca University (AB)
10. NorQuest College (AB)
11. University of Manitoba (MB)
12. University of Saskatchewan (SK)
13. University of Regina (SK)
14. University of Guelph (ON)
15. Queens University (ON)
16. University of Waterloo (ON)
17. University of Windsor (ON)
18. York University (ON)
19. Carleton University (ON)
20. Holland College (PEI)
21. University of PEI (PEI)
22. University of New Brunswick (NB)
23. Memorial University (NL)
24. Mount Saint Vincent University (NS)
25. Acadia University (NS)
26. Dalhousie University (NS)

As Geist points out, this is going to hit Access Copyright hard:

The current list includes 14 of the 25 biggest Canadian universities (as measured by the number of students).

Looks like Access Copyright is going to have to swiftly familiarize itself with an economic truism, one that most politicians seem unable to comprehend: If you tax something (and that’s really what this is — an arbitrary fee that enables Access Copyright to stay solvent enough to ask for more arbitrary fees), you get less of it.

This sort of misguided thinking rarely troubles businesses that provide products and services. These businesses are (usually) at the mercy of the customers who help determine, via "vote by wallet," what they can charge for their products. However, entities like royalty collection services and governments somehow still feel that they can increase their fees in order to increase their total income, despite repeated evidence to the contrary.

Ask New York City how that huge cigarette tax is working out for them. It’s increased the per-pack fee so much that smokers are becoming amateur bootleggers. How about you, Chicago? Slapped a nickel-per-bottle tax on bottled water, did you? Enjoy watching all those extra nickels roll right out to the suburbs. How’s that "tax the hell out of Amazon" plan coming along, various states? Null set?

Same thing here. By asking for more (much more), Access Copyright is pricing itself right out of the market. At this point its balance sheets are going to need a complete overhaul. This short-sighted plan most likely led to irrational exuberance at the AC offices, but once everyone sobers up (and that list of universities is pretty sobering), they’re going to find that a 1,300% fee increase is going to do some particularly ugly things to the bottom line.

Even worse, this tariff is supposed to benefit the many writers, artists, etc. that Access Copyright represents. So, through no fault of their own, these "represented" artists are going to see diminishing returns on their investment in copyright. Whoever came up with the "skyrocketing tariff" plan needs to be removed from their position posthaste. (Unless Access Copyright is taking suggestions from mailroom clerks or that one guy at the end of the bar, in which case no further action is necessary. Or wise.) Sooner or later, the practice of increasing fees to offset dwindling revenue catches up with businesses like these and they end up fading away, trying desperately to multiply by zero.

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Companies: access copyright

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Comments on “More Canadian Universities Opt Out Of Access Copyright's Skyrocketing Tariffs”

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blaktron (profile) says:

As a U of A employee, I know that these vampires have tried to suck the blood out of us, effectively charging as if nothing we do is fair use just to prevent the occasional infringement lawsuit. Well, then they tried to raise the prices higher than a full time litigator, soooo sucks to be them, because law suits cost everyone and we are WAY bigger than they are.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Re: Re: Cigarette Tax?

The problem is that there are ultra-rich and giant companies even they have a limit to taxation and will go away somewhere else if things get silly.

The real problem is a system that allows people to exclude the natural competition that would put those people in check and create more business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Aww, I was hoping Google’d buy the US. Rename it “Googletopia”, establish bandwidth as a legal right (a la Finland), make BitCoin the national currency, stuff like that.
Well, maybe they can buy the parts that Canada doesn’t pick up. Except for Texas; you know they’ll declare independence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m almost certain this was sarcasm.

Though, on a serious note, Canadian colleges aren’t like US colleges. From what I’ve heard, American colleges are more like Highschool 2.0, whereas the Canadian ones are seen as stepping stones into a University, or as actual focused training for specific trades or practices.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I always saw it as this way, If an institution provides a doctorate program (PhD .. Piled Higher & Deeper) then it is classified as a Higher Education Institution or University (as it is in England, Canada, and Australia)

If they only Provide Technical/Industry Certifications or Diploma Level Systems they are Tertiary Education Institutions or Colleges (TAFE in Australia)

Though to me a Degree means Bachelors Degree, though in the USA a College Degree equates to a Diploma everywhere else in the world, unless it’s a Bachelor’s Degree.

A Masters Degree seems to be the Same worldwide and can really only be done at a research based University, the same as PhD (either Professional Doctorate or Research Doctorate).

If you’re not confused, you haven’t been paying attention 😉

jakerome (profile) says:

How much is it really going to hurt?

They increase their fees by a factor of 14. And they lose 60% of their customers. By my math, that means they’ll now make:

FY12 Revenue = FY11 Revenue x 14 x 0.4 = 5.6 x FY11 Revenue

So that’s nearly a 700% increase in revenue this year! The short term thinkers at Access Copyright will no doubt be high-fiving each other.

Next year, though, when the other 40% ditch the program, they won’t be feeling so SMRT.

out_of_the_blue says:

Vaguely correct theme: mistaken examples.

Yes, a 1,300 percent IS going to reduce purchases of almost anything. Too much at once. But doesn’t invalidate that a 100 percent increase last year and another doubling this year WOULD have brought in more money. Why the huge jump would be interesting to know: perhaps think a captive market? If so, they’ll come crawling back.

Particularly mistaken is your jab at New York CITY, this from the link:
“Sales of taxed cigarettes have plummeted 27 percent since July, when state lawmakers raised the excise tax to $4.35 a pack on top of the city’s tax of $1.50, making the average price of Marlboros here $11.60, with some shops charging as much as $14.”
See how ACTUAL FIGURES invalidate your statement? State $4.35, city $1.50? And you claim it’s a CITY problem? Wrong, wrong.– And smokers are paying FOURTEEN BUCKS A PACK! It’s a matter of product, not a general rule…

From same paragraph, Chicago bottled water tax: you can’t drive much out of your way and save $1.20 a case; perhaps 10 cases at a time would be worthwhile, BUT this appears to be FIRST time to get ANY figures, so just because they don’t meet predictions, nothing is proved yet.

Same with Amazon: you don’t have actual figures, are just guessing so far.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Vaguely correct theme: mistaken examples.

You do know that most bottled water is just filtered tap water don’t you?

People just need to buy a filter to have the same thing(probably better) is that so hard?

About Amazon actually there are figures coming out of that deal 25.000 people who brought in 2 billion dollars to the state of California have been cut and many are moving out of the state to be able to continue to do business with Amazon, just so the state projected to gain $200 million dollars in taxes.


“I always figured that in California, home to Silicon Valley and a million tech startups, they’d never pass a law like this,” said Loper, 28, who’s moving to Nevada, which has no online sales tax, to run his newest online venture, ShoeSniper.


Other sources:

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Vaguely correct theme: mistaken examples.


In one case, a brand of bottled water, advertised as ?pure, glacier water,? was found to be taken from a municipal water supply while another brand, flaunted as ?spring water,? was pumped from a water source next to a hazardous waste dumping site. While ?purified tap water? is arguably safer and purer than untreated tap water (depending upon the purification methods), a consumer should expect to receive something more than reconstituted tap water for the exceptional prices of bottled water.



Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coca-Cola Co’s Dasani are both made from purified water sourced from public reservoirs, as opposed to Danone’s Evian or Nestle’s Poland Spring, so-called “spring waters,” shipped from specific locations the companies say have notably clean water.


Other sources:

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Vaguely correct theme: mistaken examples.

The exact same thing happens with copycrap, after a certain threshold if people find other means to acquire something they will do it and there is no law that will stop them from doing it until some legal alternative surfaces, if not they just stop using that crap.


Among this group getting broadband but not multi-channel video, the reason for not subscribing to a multi-channel video service is generally not driven by online video. Just 5% of this group doesn’t subscribe to a multi-channel video service because they can watch all that they want on the Internet or in other ways, and 2% specifically mention Netflix as a reason for not subscribing. In contrast, 28% cite cost, 26% say that they don’t watch much TV, and 18% say that they have no need for a service.


Now is time for some collection societies to watch that happen to them as well apparently, they will leave a lot of money on the table for others to grab, legally or illegally people will find ways around that crap.

Nicedoggy says:


Perhaps worse than the diversion of money has been the crime associated with the city’s illegal cigarette market. Smalltime crooks and organized crime have engaged in murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery to earn and protect their illicit profits. Such crime has exposed average citizens, such as truck drivers and retail store clerks, to violence.

The failure of New York policymakers to consider the broader effects of high cigarette taxes has been a mistake repeated across the country in the stampede to maximize tax revenue from this demonized product. Too often, policymakers do not consider these effects in the erroneous belief that people do not respond to government-created economic incentives. The negative effects of high cigarette taxes in New York provide a cautionary tale that excessive tax rates have serious consequences?even for such a politically unpopular product as cigarettes.


Also where did you read that anybody said that N.Y. Cityis responsible for the problem?

They are suffering from it and they are the best well known and documented case of what happens when legislators from the city or state or both like in this case ignore reality.

And it is not that they don’t get the big picture, those dumb politicians get a thousand pages report every time they will do that describing all that can happen and they do it anyways, just to get slapped by reality.

There is just so much that normal people will accept after a certain threshold they just say “f. it, who cares?!”

Rekrul says:

How about you, Chicago? Slapped a nickel-per-bottle tax on bottled water, did you? Enjoy watching all those extra nickels roll right out to the suburbs.

Is it a tax, or a “deposit”? Here in CT, they added a $0.05 deposit to bottled water containers a year or two ago. You pay the extra five cents a bottle when you buy them, but you get it back if you return the bottles.

Of course most people don’t return them. They either throw them away, or toss them in the recycle bin, usually with anywhere from 25-75% of the water still in them. Seriously, is it some kind of a status thing to throw away bottles of water that are still half full? “I’m so rich, not only do I buy bottled water, I waste half of it!”

People do it with soda bottles as well.

Dave says:

You don't get it

Chicago didnt add a nickel to water because they thought they would get rich, they did it thinking people would buy less bottled water.

Same goes for smoking, I guess unless you know someone in the cigarette mafia, they are prohibitively expensive. I quit when I moved here because of the price. True story.

And I guess Amazon can try to run from taxes, but eventually they’re going to end up in a less desireable place. Add to that it’s fucking shameful to see them run from their obligations to their states.

You, the author I mean, sounds like a twelve year old anti-tax teabagger. As if the point of all taxes is to raise revenue for the greedy government. So simple minded.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you tax something (and that’s really what this is — an arbitrary fee that enables Access Copyright to stay solvent enough to ask for more arbitrary fees), you get less of it.

How does that work then? (assuming that you mean you get less tax revenue)

No tax = ?0 revenue
Some tax = ?x revenue, where x != 0, as some or most law abiding citizens will pay.

It seems to me that some tax is better than no tax, from a revenue rasing point of view.

If you mean an increase in tax, then you are in Laffer Curve territory and I mean this ( not the nice inverted parabola, which is totally unrealistic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Tim, your posts are always are such over hyped crap, it’s almost hard to read. Quote Geist doesn’t make you appear any brighter either, considering his stands make most of the Tardian nation look sane. I don’t care if he is a tenured professor, he’s still out there.

The rest of your “how’s that working out for you” post indicates that you don’t really understand the effects of taxation and tariffs to change the public’s habits. When are you going to graduate, anyway?

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