Earlier this month, Access Copyright (AC) and the Association of Colleges and Universities Canada (AUCC) reached an agreement for a model copyright license. This model licence, which individual AUCC member institutions must choose whether to approve or not, covers the reproduction of copyrighted works on campuses across Canada.
The AUCC is an organization representing over 90 Canadian universities and colleges. A copy of the model license can be found here.
Drawing immediate condemnation, the model license has been strongly criticised by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) for the high fees it imposes, the damage it could do to academic freedoms, and the potentially coercive measures it includes. Both groups have called on institutions to reject the model license outright.
The agreement reached appears to be strikingly similar to the copyright licensing agreements signed in January by UWO and UT. It appears to feature many of same the inherent flaws described in PLG London’s objection to Western’s copyright agreement here. Featuring similar unjustified royalty increases, the model licence raises fees imposed on full time equivalent students to $26.00 and fails to provide little more than is already granted by existing user rights.
Replicating overbroad definitions from the UWO/UT agreement, this model license grants AC rights not set in the Copyright Act and includes posting a digital link within the definition of copy.
Featuring similar surveillance mechanisms, the model license mandates the creation of survey instruments to monitor use of copyrighted works on campuses. While the license suggests academic freedoms will be respected, the presence of this clause is highly troublesome. As with the UWO/UT agreement, many fear the license could require universities to monitor student and faculty email and course content.
As universities across Canada have walked away from their relationships with AC, innovative licensing alternatives to traditional copyright agreements have developed. As we make use of fair dealing and user rights, direct site licensed material, and the increasing amount of peer reviewed open access materials available, the academic community has begun to move away from the increasingly unnecessary AC licenses.
The decision made by AUCC, UWO, and UT to reach agreements with AC significantly harms the ongoing struggle at the copyright board.
To learn more about this model licence, please visit the following blogs I consulted while researching this post:
- Access Copyright and AUCC Agree to “Model License”: But What Does it Mean? – Sam Trosow
- AUCC Follows U of T & Western and Capitulates to Access Copyright Bullying – Howard Knopf
- A Bad Deal: AUCC/Access Copyright Model License Agreement – CAUT
- The Best Possible Outcome for Universities, Really? – Ariel Katz
- Other People’s Money: Why AUCC Signed the Most Expensive Copyright Insurance Policy in Cdn History – Michael Geist