On January 30th, 2012, the University of Western Ontario and Access Copyright, Canada’s copyright licensing agency, reached a licensing agreement on the copying and reproduction of copyrighted works on campus. The agreement increases the annual fee charged per full time equivalent (FTE) student to $26.00.
Unjustified and burdensome, the university has passed this excessive increase onto students with no real consultation, discussion, or approval from the Western student body.
Fundamentally flawed, the licensing agreement features broad definitions of key terms and gives Access Copyright rights that do not exist under Canada’s Copyright Act. The agreement expands the definition of “copy” to include posting a link to a digital copy, a definition not set out or supported by the Copyright Act or court decisions interpreting the Copyright Act.
A potentially intrusive invasion of privacy, the agreement could threaten academic freedom and may have serious consequences for the students, faculty, and librarians of Western. The licensing agreement mandates the creation of survey instruments to monitor the volume of copyrighted works in use on campus. With the expanded definition of “copy” and the reference to email in the definition of “course collection,” the agreement could require the university to monitor students, faculty, and librarians and their email accounts and course content for use of copyrighted materials.
Innovative alternatives to the Access Copyright license have arisen. Alternatives include making better use of the fair dealing rights under copyright law, expanding access to digital site-licensed material through Western Libraries, Creative Commons licensed materials, and increasing use of open access materials.
Western’s decision to sign the agreement was poorly timed. Recent amendments to the Copyright Act in Parliament and decisions from the Supreme Court this year have significantly clarified and expanded copyright user rights.
As the rising number of universities opting out of continued agreements with Access Copyright understand, Access Copyright licensing agreements have become increasingly unnecessary. Rights granted by the agreements are limited and do not go beyond established copyright user rights like fair dealing. As fair dealing has been strengthened and alternative ways of using copyrighted works have arisen, the academic community has begun to move away from licensing agreements with Access Copyright.
Organizations that have opposed the agreement include the Atlantic Provinces Library Association, British Columbia Library Association, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canadian Federation of Students, Faculty of Information and Media Studies Faculty Council, Manitoba Library Association, Newfoundland and Labrador Library Association, and the Progressive Librarians Guild.
The initial term of Western’s Access Copyright agreement is to December 31st, 2013. This initial term will be extended automatically by one year terms unless the university gives six months notice they do not wish the agreement to be extended. Western has the option of ending the Access Copyright agreement after the initial term if notice is given by June 2013.
Join the Progressive Librarians Guild (London Chapter) in rejecting the Access Copyright licensing agreement. The Progressive Librarians Guild urges the University of Western Ontario to give notice to terminate this agreement by June 2013.
Progressive Librarians Guild (London Chapter)
Dated 30 August 2012