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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    abc gum, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 4:46pm

    "Who Will Stick Up For Smaller Colleges"

    When I was young and naive, I thought it was a role of government to curtail such predation. But government is just as bad if not worse. It has become so bad that in Canada one is not even allowed to speak up about such unethical behavior.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 4:50pm

    ...and now, on top of that, in order to play recorded music at a wedding, you'll have to pay fees... et-hit-with-new-royalty-fees-for-using-music

    can you say insanity?

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 5:47pm

    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.)

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 7:33pm


    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.

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2012 @ 10:55pm

    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.

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

  6. identicon
    Mark McCutcheon, Jun 2nd, 2012 @ 10:27am

    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

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2012 @ 2:06pm


    According to your linked article those fees only apply if the music is played by a commercial entity. Your cousin Ned does the DJing? You're fine.

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

  8. icon
    Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 2nd, 2012 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Who will stick up for smaller colleges?

    Ah interesting I missed that - well it's nice that the ACCC got a slightly better deal. Though, there are still some schools in the middle that I think may be screwed by the AUCC model agreement....

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

  9. identicon
    abc gum, Jun 3rd, 2012 @ 7:45am

    Re: Who will stick up for smaller colleges?

    It is still a "you must be guilty tax".

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

  10. icon
    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Jun 4th, 2012 @ 6:49am

    I work at a smaller college, in the department that prints out course packs, and several professors have been asking us how to scan their materials so they can put it online as a PDF since the price to copy is so high now.

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

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