The Access Copyright Post Secondary Interim Tariff…A Message to Our Professor Affiliates
Some of our affiliates who are also members of the academic community have contacted us recently with questions and concerns about the withdrawal by several Canadian universities and colleges from the comprehensive licences we administer.
Our objective as your representatives is, as always, to ensure your rights are protected, and that you are compensated when your works are used. However we share your concerns as affiliates about the impact of these decisions on faculty and students.
The comprehensive licences and tariffs we administer are for the benefit of students, faculty and rightsholders alike. Comprehensive licences have long enabled faculty to make the copies they need of copyright-protected texts, whether as class handouts or for inclusion in coursepacks, free from worry about legal liability or the need to get clearance from rightsholders.
These licences historically covered only paper copying. With the advent of digital copying, there is a clear need for licences covering digital uses, such as posting works onto course management websites. We believe that many of these growing digital uses infringe copyright. That trend cannot continue.
We would have liked to negotiate an agreement with post secondary institutions and did attempt to do so, unfortunately, the Association of Universities and Colleges (AUCC) cut short talks aimed at determining just how much digital copying is taking place, how much of it must be paid for and what would be fair value for it.
To ensure that you continue to be fairly compensated when your works are used in Canadian colleges and universities, we had no choice but to explore other options, and so we applied to the Copyright Board to examine these questions and set a tariff that reflects the fair value of what is being used. The Board will hear evidence and make a pondered decision reflecting the actual amount of copying on campus and its fair value.
In our application to the Copyright Board, we suggested the amount of $45 per student be considered as an upper limit. This proposed tariff blends the previous per-student rate of $3.38 with the $0.10 cents per page that students paid when protected works were included in coursepacks (for example, a coursepack of 200 pages would cost the student $20 in royalty fees). Under the proposal, students will no longer pay that per page fee when they purchase coursepacks. The proposed tariff also includes digital copying that is currently not paid for and is by all accounts growing.
It is very possible that the rate set by the Copyright Board will be less than what we proposed. However, while it looks into this matter, the Board has set an Interim Tariff. In its reasons for granting Access Copyright an Interim Tariff, the Board reviewed the negotiation history and concluded that "…it takes two to tango. In this case the Institutions have refused to even walk to the dance floor." The Board then went on to set an interim rate approximately equal to what institutions paid in the past. The final rate will be evidenced-based.
This decision by the Copyright Board appears to have prompted some university administrators to opt out of the comprehensive licence that we offer. In the absence of a comprehensive licence, the burden of clearing rights for specific works will now fall onto university professors. This was a task the Access Copyright licence makes easy and worry-free.
This extra burden imposed by university and college administrators may have the unintended consequence of restricting professors and students' seamless access to content and impeding teaching, learning and academic freedom.
Some university administrators are going so far as to suggest that their professors may be legally liable if copyright is infringed. We believe none of this is necessary, and that the comprehensive tariff is the best solution for universities, professors, students and rightsholders.
Access Copyright has produced a number of statements on the post-secondary tariff. You can find them here.
I hope this information is helpful. Please feel free to contact Valerie Bulanda (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to request further information.