Several Major Canadian Universities Reject Access Copyright Deal, But Who Will Stick Up For Smaller Colleges?

from the not-the-aucc,-apparently dept

When the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) drafted a terrible deal with the collection society Access Copyright, and then withdrew from their fight before the Copyright Board, the onus fell on the schools themselves to stand up for their rights and reject the ridiculous fees and terms of the agreement. Though they were rushed into expressing their “intent to sign”, a number of schools have since walked away and announced plans to manage their own copyright clearance, much as major American universities do, while others have capitulated to the deal. Professor Ariel Katz at the University of Toronto (one of the schools that infamously signed a bad deal with Access Copyright before the AUCC agreement, partially on the advice of a lawyer with close ties to pro-stronger-copyright groups and even Access Copyright itself) has been maintaining the Fair Dealing Hall Of F/Sh/ame to keep track of which schools are fighting and which ones are bowing down.

Several major schools have made the Hall of Fame so far: the universities of B.C., Athabasca, Windsor, Winnipeg, York and New Brunswick all turned down the deal in May. Meanwhile, the universities of Manitoba and Victoria have joined U of T and Western, who signed all the way back in January. McMaster University is also listed as signing, but apparently that remains unconfirmed.

Unfortunately, the real losers here are the smaller colleges across Canada, which don’t have the resources to set up copyright clearance offices or to assert their fair dealing rights in the tariff fight at the Copyright Board. In theory, that’s why we have both the AUCC and Access Copyright: to streamline the process by negotiating a good model agreement that schools can sign, with a set rate that eliminates the hard work of copyright clearance. But that only works if the AUCC does its job and stands up for the schools, making sure that the deal is fair. That didn’t happen. For whatever reason, the AUCC failed to strongly assert the fair dealing rights of schools—rights that were strengthened in a series of recent Supreme Court rulings, and which are about to be even further expanded by the soon-to-pass copyright reform bill, all of which should have resulted in lower fees and looser restrictions for schools. Instead, they agreed to significant rate increases, and bizarre restrictions and fees based on rights that don’t even exist under copyright law, such as linking and maintaining a personal research archive.

Hopefully, the schools that have chosen (and are able) to cut their own path continue to do so—and maybe, as they demonstrate that it’s possible and work out the kinks of their copyright clearance systems, we will begin to see a shift in attitudes surrounding copyright and education that eventually benefits all of Canada’s schools. But for the time being, many are going to have to face the consequences of the AUCC’s lackluster performance at the negotiating table and before the Copyright Board.

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Companies: access copyright

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Comments on “Several Major Canadian Universities Reject Access Copyright Deal, But Who Will Stick Up For Smaller Colleges?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This isn’t new by any means. Singapore had a similar deal some time back when the local version of ASCAP (known as COMPASS) made pretty much the same declaration. Naturally there was an anticipated backlash since enforcement would mean gatecrashing which the society claimed they wouldn’t do, but of course there was the obligatory arrogance of not paying the original rightsholder for the music usage, as though the rightsholder were personally involved in the wedding.

Still, to both countries, good luck enforcing the rule at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

That is pretty insane. These copyright-fees seems to have spun far out of control. Next will be:

– a fee to cover the ridiculous expenses of lobbying (Politicians need compensation for their difficult work of decieving the public!)
– a fee for having internet-access (having internet-access = you dirty pirate!)
– a fee specifically to cover the expense of monitoring the internet (hey, gotta create jobs and this is the easiest place to make them when we get the laws!)
– a fee for owning a any device with “the ability to create sound” (Inspired by patent-trolling and it has a huge potential if we can get the right judges. Note to self: Raise the lobbying fee to cover the judges we need!)
– a fee to cover the artists drug-habits (Look, nobody wants to play the horrible music the labels want to sell nowadays. Drugs are a pretty good way to assure they wont start suing for extorting or other rightious crap)
– a fee on any instrument (includes bottles appearently: This fee has to be so high that almost nobody can buy it. Independent artists are the biggest thread to real music-business.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Sack Them

If the AUCC declines to do its job properly and satisfactorily represent the interests of universities and colleges, then sack them. That is just the same as anybody else who is hired on to do a job, then bungles it. Bungling has been with us forever and will never be eliminated. Sacking is the answer for individual bunglers, including bungling organisations.

The AUCC customers should make very public their dissatisfaction with the AUCC’s performance. The universities have plenty of law schools, with lots of professors who are eager to be sent in to bat. Let them have a go. Form a competitor to AUCC for this one specific task, then show up what a hopeless bunch of bunglers the AUCC really are. Get on with it.

Mark McCutcheon (user link) says:

Who will stick up for smaller colleges?

The colleges may be doing a good job of sticking up for themselves: The ACCC has negotiated a deal with Access Copyright that includes a significantly lower per-student fee (though some of the problematic provisions about linking as copying, etc. remain). See IP lawyer Howard Knopf’s analysis of the ACCC agreement at

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