Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Western and U of T settle with Access Copyright on annual fee covering print and digital copyright

Two of Canada's A-list universities -- Western and University of Toronto -- have settled with Access Copyright on a licensing agreement to reproduce copyright-protected material in both digital and print format. The deal is that each will pay Access Copyright $27.50 per full-time student annually to cover reproduction of copyright material for student use. The fee is less than Access is seeking in tariff negotiations at the Canadian Copyright Board, but does cover digital use and does put an end -- at least for these two leading schools -- to a contentious dispute over fair compensation for creators of written and visual material used by students.
“We welcome this opportunity to work in partnership with Western and U of T” said Maureen Cavan, executive director of Access Copyright. “The education and publishing industries depend on one another. An agreement that provides for usage of content, fair compensation to those that provide the content, with rules that favour sustainability, is in the interest of all players” said Ms. Cavan.
 The agreement is back-dated to cover digital uses not covered by previous agreements and will be used until 2013, with an automatic annual renewal. A method is being explored to assess and sample the actual amount of copying  being done of copyrighted materials to assist in setting the royalty in following years.
“This agreement gives us a convenient, comprehensive way to share content digitally and in paper form from a repertoire of millions of publications,” said Janice Deakin, provost and vice‐president (academic) at Western. “The backdating of the agreement gives us peace of mind by covering past digital uses that may have exposed the university and the indemnity provision increases the university’s legal protection against copyright  infringement.”
Last fall, the Copyright Board rejected attempts by Canadian universities and colleges to force transactional, pay-per-use licenses rather than comprehensive licenses that had gone before. At issue, among other things, was the use of digital copying, never contemplated or covered by previous tariffs. And Access argued that the pay-per-use model (without any means to monitor or track it) was an invitation for copyright violation. Higher education and Access have been working under (and arguing over) the terms of an interim tariff, pending the conclusion of a drawn-out Copyright Board process to settle on a permanent tariff. The interim tariff gives permission for day-to-day copying by instructors, students and administrators; production of paper coursepacks; and the option to make digital copies. Access's principal role is to collect the fees and distribute them to the creators.

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