Open Letter Regarding the Agreement Reached Between Access Copyright and the AUCC

Atlantic Provinces Library Association
School of Information Management
Faculty of Management – Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building
6100 University Ave., Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 3J5 


April 20, 2012


Open Letter Regarding the Agreement Reached Between Access Copyright and the AUCC


Dear Presidents of the Universities and Colleges of Atlantic Canada:

The Atlantic Provinces Library Association (APLA) was dismayed to learn of the agreement reached between Access Copyright and the AUCC.  This is a bad deal from several perspectives, including the following:

  • Existing Rights and Expanded Definition of Copying  – The expansion of activities defined as “copying” in the model license is of great concern.  The license requires payment for rights already granted under current copyright legislation.  For example, there are provisions within the Act such as fair dealing that have allowed faculty and students to copy works without permission or payment.  Also, the license indicates that “posting a link or hyperlink to a digital copy” is copying, which contradicts a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling (Crookes v. Newton).  Further, institutions are already paying heavy premiums to license digital content, the terms of these licenses granting additional copying and sharing rights not covered by current legislation.  If institutions agree to the model license, they will be paying for already existing rights, or paying double for extended rights.  Why would institutions want to do that?   And what are the risks for the future, once Access Copyright has been given this control over royalty fees?
  • Increase in Fees – The per FTE student fees have increased from $3.38 to $26. The value offered  for this money is questionable on two counts - the decline of course pack printing in recent years (replaced by the use of licensed and free digital resources), and the uncertain number of content owners actually represented by Access Copyright.  The argument has been made that institutions should be paying less, not more.  We agree.
  • Long Term Implications – Why would AUCC sign this agreement now with Access Copyright?  Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act that is likely to be passed soon, will expand the fair dealing rights that the academic community currently enjoy. Copyright decisions pending from the Supreme Court of Canada, particularly the K-12 case, may also have positive outcomes. Universities and colleges do not need to pay for rights they already own, and additional ones they may have in the near future.

APLA vigorously supports the position taken by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) on this model agreement and we urge you not to sign on.  It is perplexing that institutions of higher education would consider paying unnecessarily for rights already belonging to them, particularly at a time when post-secondary institutions are struggling to balance their budgets.  To sign now is to relinquish the fight before it is over and at a very high price indeed.



Jocelyne Thompson