Last updated: May 25, 2012 4:34 pm
UBC opts out of Access Copyright agreement
VANCOUVER (CUP) — UBC has announced that it won’t be returning to Access Copyright.
The Association of Canadian Colleges and Universities (ACCU), of which UBC is a member, agreed to draft a deal with Access Copyright, a publishing organization that centrally controls rights for academic materials such as course packs. Access Copyright had been performing that role for UBC until 2011, but UBC, after reviewing the ACCU deal, has decided they’re not going to sign up.
“We showed that we could live without the interim tariff and things went quite well for the last year since September,” said Allan Bell, UBC director for library digital initiatives.
“[It] went so well, in fact, that we think we can continue on that course, and that’s what we’ve decided to do.”
The decision ends just under two years of uncertainty on the issue. Access Copyright first proposed a $45-per-student flat rate in 2010 before agreeing to a deal with the ACCU that laid out $26 per student as a model rate for individual schools to approve.
The deal in effect prior to 2010 charged $3.38 per student, and 10 cents per printed page. In response to the $45-per-student proposal, UBC decided to leave the service in 2011.
“We showed that we could live without the interim tariff and things went quite well.”
Bell said dealing with licensing in-house hasn’t been negative for UBC. “It actually gets us talking about intellectual property rights, it’s better financially for taxpayers and our students and it hastens our adoption of forward-looking digital technologies for teaching and learning,” he said.
“People actually have a much greater understanding of their obligations under the Copyright Act that maybe they didn’t have before.”
Mark Vessey, chair of the Senate Library Committee, said that effect of the decision wouldn’t be as widely felt as last year’s choice. “Initially, they were dealing with an emergency situation. The rules of the game changed very suddenly last year and everybody was caught a little blindsided,” he said. “What I think the university has managed to do is set up some quite good and robust processes.”
In a broadcast email sent out May 15 — the deadline for deciding whether or not to sign onto the deal — UBC criticized Access Copyright for charging too much, as well as providing only a limited repertoire of material.
Bell said UBC already pays over $10 million for electronic licences, which is a cost over and above the amount charged by Access Copyright. The rejected deal also only permitted copying of 10 per cent of a work, or 20 per cent if it was for a course pack.
The university will continue to operate the Copyright Advisory Group, which took questions from the community, reviewed course materials and oversaw material as it went on UBC Vista, the content management system for courses. Bell said the university will be opening a physical copyright office.
According to Vessey, there was no easy road back. “Instructors delivering courses are going to have to carry on working at this, and in some cases that’ll be a lot of extra work. I think everybody recognizes that,” said Vessey. “There’s no quick or easy fix, but then there never actually was before.
“[Copyright] has always been a fairly arduous process, if you’re going to do it right.”