Print Edition: November 28, 2012
We’ve seen the email circulating: “UFV decides against signing Access Copyright License.” It explains that after review of Bill C-11 and other recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions, UFV has chosen to “opt out” of another license with Access Copyright. So what does that mean for students and instructors?
The agency acts similarly to a middleman between creators—or people who hold the copyright—and users. UFV pays Access Copyright a fee, and they provide us with a license that allows students and faculty to use material that Access Copyright represents legally.
According to Kim Isaac, a librarian here at UFV, Access Copyright has provided “an important service” for about 20 years. However, due to some recent changes in copyright law, this has all changed.
UFV previously paid a flat rate of $3.38 per student full time equivalent (FTE), plus a transactional fee; this came to a total cost of roughly $120,000 a year that UFV was paying for the rights to use material (which Access Copyright represents) in a classroom setting.
In the summer of 2010, UFV’s license with Access Copyright was due to expire. Isaac explained UFV expected to negotiate new terms and continue the relationship with Access Copyright. This did not happen.
Instead, Access Copyright went to the copyright board of Canada and filed for a tariff.
This would have “resulted in a greatly increased cost for our institution,” Isaac said. Access Copyright was seeking an increase in fees of $45 per student FTE – an “astronomical increase,” Isaac said.
Not surprisingly, Isaac stated, post-secondary institutions banded together under the two major agencies they are members of—Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) and Associations of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC)—and “filed an objection to that tariff under the copyright board.”
This legal process took us to the summer of 2012. In the meantime, the negotiation continued between ACCC, AUCC and Access Copyright.
Both AUCC and ACCC negotiated a deal with Access Copyright that seemed a much better deal then the tariff Access Copyright was trying to push through. The new model license that ACCC had negotiated came to $10 per FTE, something UFV was fully prepared to sign.
However, just as UFV prepared to do that,” a new copyright act was passed—the copyright modernization act—bringing in some changes to how copyrighted material can be used,” Isaac said.
“Almost at the same time,” Isaac continued, ”a couple of decisions came down from the Supreme Court of Canada that gave what we felt was a very sympathetic interpretation of using copyrighted material in an educational setting.”
Before the copyright modernization act, a “fair dealing” clause—which permits the use of a copyright protected work without the direct permission of the copyright owner—allowed copying for reasons of personal research. However, if an instructor wanted to make copies for every student in a class, it was not considered fair dealing. Before Access Copyright, Isaac explained, we would have to approach the writer or publisher for permission, a “really unwieldy and difficult” process. Educational use was not considered fair dealing.
Over the summer this all changed. The Supreme Court stated that educational use is considered to be fair dealing, which completely changes the copyright rules for both students and instructors.
This only applies to excerpts of material, Isaac clarified. Longer works, such as entire books, don’t fit in to fair dealing, and now “individual institutions can once again approach copyright holders themselves.”
Before UFV signed the new license with Access Copyright, it received a legal opinion from ACCC stating that in light of these changes the model license was “not a good value for money.” UFV was stuck in a sort of limbo, debating whether to sign or not to sign.
After reviewing info from ACCC legal council, the new copyright modernization act and the supreme court decisions, UFV finally decided not to sign the model license, “essentially deciding to move away from operating within an agreement with Access Copyright” according to Isaac.
“We’re really scrambling to try to figure out what all these changes mean,” Isaac said. “It’s crazy right now.”
So what can people reasonably copy? What falls under fair dealing? The UFV library is currently trying to develop a more comprehensive website to answer these questions. Any questions in the meantime should be directed to UFV librarians, as UFV learns to navigate in this very new copyright environment.