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CAUT/ACPPU Bulletin Online


Vol 59 | No 2 | February 2012

Toronto & Western Break Ranks to Sign Access Copyright Deal

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New Access Copyright agreements have been signed at Western Ontario (above) & Toronto (inset). (Balcer/Nat)
New Access Copyright agreements have been signed at Western Ontario (above) & Toronto (inset). (Balcer/Nat)
The universities of Western Ontario and Toronto have signed a deal with Access. Copyright that allows for surveillance of faculty correspondence, unjustified restriction to copyrighted works and two million dollars in fees that will be passed along to students.

The agreement reached last month with the licensing agency includes provisions defining e-mailing hyperlinks as equivalent to photocopying a document, an annual $27.50 fee for every full-time equivalent student and surveillance of academic staff email.

CAUT executive director James Turk des­cribed the news as incredulous.

“Western’s and U of T’s actions are inex­pli­cable,” he said. “They have buckled under outrageous and unjustified demands by Access Copyright at a time when not only have the courts extended rights to use copyrighted material, but also better alternatives are becoming available to the services Access Copyright offers and just before passage of new federal copyright legislation that provides additional protections for the educational sector.”

He also noted the deals undermine efforts underway at universities and colleges nationwide to develop fair new models of scholarly communication and to reach principled copyright arrangements with authors and publishers.

The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to clarify the educational use of copyrighted works in the coming months, a move that could undercut Access Copyright’s bargaining position. In sharp contrast to Western and U of T, many universities have opted out of agreements with the licensing agency or are fighting its demands at the Copyright Board of Canada.

“These two universities threw in the towel prematurely on the copyright battle,” said Turk. “We call on other post-secondary institutions not to follow their example of capitulating to Access Copyright. It’s time to stand up for the right to fair and reasonable access to copyrighted works for educational purposes.”

Turk said CAUT is working with the library community, copyright officers and member academic staff associations “to protect academic rights to the fair use of copyrighted material. We also intend to do everything possible to protect the academic freedom rights of our members threatened by provisions in these two agreements.”

CAUT intervened in 2011 against Access Copyright’s application to the Copyright Board for a new post-secondary education tariff. CAUT also intervened in the two copyright cases currently before the Supreme Court.

A CAUT backgrounder that warns against the copyright agreement is available here.