Access Copyright renewals update (pinned post)

Updated: February 8, 2016

The time has passed for universities to decide whether they will renew their collective licences with Access Copyright. Below is a table (after the jump) I will use to keep track of the decisions once they become public. The table includes all of the universities that are members of Universities Canada (formerly AUCC). This table only shows whether they’ve renewed the current licence, but does not indicate if they are in negotiations for a new one. Continue reading

My article “Awareness and Perception of Copyright Among Teaching Faculty at Canadian Universities” has been published in Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, vol. 10, no. 2 (2015).


This article describes the background, methodology, and results of a study undertaken in 2014 to determine university faculty awareness and perceptions of copyright as it affects their teaching. An online survey questionnaire was distributed to teaching faculty across Canada, seeking feedback about the copyright policies and training opportunities at their institutions, where they go for copyright assistance, and how they would respond to various copyright-related scenarios that may arise in the course of teaching.

Most of the respondents are aware of the copyright policies or guidelines at their universities, but much fewer know whether or not their institution offers copyright training. Of those who are aware of training opportunities, only one third have taken advantage of them. When needing assistance, faculty members are most likely to go to a librarian or to the institution’s copyright policy.

Responses to the four scenarios suggest that faculty members are more likely to share digital copyrighted materials (including online works) with their students, whereas they are more likely to ask permission or guidance when it comes to print materials.

Comments from the respondents touch upon issues of the complexity of copyright, and the often time-consuming process of obtaining permissions for the use of copyrighted materials in teaching.

This study was supported by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Michael Geist wrote:

“Academic Matters, a semi-annual publication that explores issues related to higher education, has just published a pair of essays on education, fair dealing, copyright, and collective licensing. Roanie Levy, the Executive Director of Access Copyright, wrote an essay in support of the role of her copyright collective. I wrote the other essay, arguing that emerging forms of access for copyrighted works lessens the value of the Access Copyright licence.”

Read the rest of his post and his essay here.

On January 14, 2016, author Heather Menzies wrote an op-ed for The Globe and Mail concerning the issue of fair dealing and its seeming responsibility for the decline in income of Canadian authors, particularly in the educational sector.

Meera Nair has written a well-thought-out response to Menzies’ claims, addressing copyright law’s history and goals, collective licensing, and the rise of alternatives to traditional publishing of educational materials.


Access Copyright’s new offerings and the collective’s future with universities

Access Copyright is now offering two licensing options for universities to consider: the Access Premium, which takes the same form as the pre-2015 blanket licences including course packs and digital copying, and transactional licences for over-limit copying; and the Access Choice, which starts at a lower flat rate and adds on transactional licences for course packs and digital copyright. (Still no stand-alone pay-per-use option, however.)

The flat fee for each of the options is reduced if the licence term is longer. For Premium, a one-year commitment requires a fee of $18 per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student, which then drops to $15/year for a three-year agreement, and $12/year for a five-year agreement. The Choice option starts at $6/FTE for a one-year agreement, then drops to $5/year for a three-year agreement. (The previous agreement was $26/year.)

The addition of transactional licences to the scheme might be attractive to some university administrators who perceive it to offer some security. However, it doesn’t seem to be attractive enough. December 31, 2015, marked the end of the latest round of Access Copyright licences. I have been keeping track of whether the signatory universities were planning to continue with a further Access Copyright agreement. The results so far show that universities are continuing to move away from the blanket licence model, even with the lower price and option of transactional licences; more and more universities are opting to rely on fair dealing and other user rights, publisher and database licences, open access alternatives, and public domain material.

As of today, according to publicly-accessible sources, 37 out of 65 universities (57%) are not a party to a licensing agreement with the collective (compared to 24/65 [37%] last year, and 100% in 2010). For 27 universities, their status is unclear, but evidence suggests that two of them have decided not to renew. The University of Regina decided to opt into an Access Premium agreement.


Copyright advice or information?

Copyright expert Lesley Ellen Harris recently posted at IP Osgoode about an important but seldom-addressed issue involving post-secondary institutions and copyright: When a librarian answers a question about using copyrighted works, is she giving legal advice? Given that more universities are opting to handle copyright compliance in-house rather than outsourcing it to a copyright collective, the answer becomes more and more significant. The answer will not be found in my post; instead, I’ll relate some of the thoughts I had after reading Harris’s post.

[Note: The thoughts below are based on the IP Osgoode post; some of them might already be addressed in Harris’s full article upcoming in the Intellectual Property Journal.]

Continue reading

Awareness and Perception of Copyright Among Teaching Faculty at Canadian Universities

Earlier this month I had the privilege of presenting my research at the 2015 ABC Copyright Conference in Winnipeg, hosted by the University of Winnipeg, the University of Manitoba, and Brandon University.

In the short talk I discussed the results of a survey of Canadian university faculty members undertaken from October to December 2014. The survey sought to determine teaching faculty awareness of copyright law and institutional policy and training, and how they would respond in various scenarios.

Analysis of the results suggests that while faculty members are aware of the existence of their institution’s copyright policy, much fewer know whether their institution offers training. Of those who do know about training, only one-third have attended. However, faculty who have attended copyright training find that their knowledge is enhanced by the experience.

It also appears that respondents are more comfortable reproducing and displaying materials in class that are freely available on the Internet, like YouTube videos and images, but more likely to ask for permission or guidance when it comes to print materials or electronic versions of print materials like PDFs.

The research was supported by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.


Speaking notes

A staring contest between libraries and electronic resource providers

Today, on the last day of Fair Use Week, Prof. Samuel Trosow and I got to speak with members of the University of Western Ontario law and library communities about potential conflicts between the law of copyright and the law of contract, where the terms of a subscription licence seemingly abrogate the user’s right of fair dealing. Some of the audience wondered whether, in a situation where a user “contravenes” the contract by using the materials in a way consistent with a copyright exception, a database provider or publisher would take the subscribing library or institution to court. This has not yet been an issue in Canadian courts, and at this point it would be difficult to predict.

Teresa Scassa has written a blog post about copyright and municipal transit data (bus route maps and real-time GPS data) in which she makes a very important observation: “Being in a position to make a claim to IP rights was in many ways more important than actually having a good claim.” The same can be said about contractual entitlements (or at least the appearance of entitlements). As long as the risk of a breach of contract suit exists, this could be enough to ensure compliance with the licence, despite that there might be no such obligation in law, and despite that there may be a loss to the library community and its patrons in the short and long term. On the other hand, if a licensor did bring such a suit and lost, the precedent set could be more damaging to the industry than simply ignoring it. I wonder who is going to blink first?

Happy Fair Use/Dealing Week

February 23-27 is Fair Use Week, a “community celebration of fair use coordinated by the Association of Research Libraries.”

Here in Canada, we’re celebrating the equivalent (but not exactly the same, of course) Fair Dealing Week.  The Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office at the University of Toronto are initiating a nation-wide discussion on fair dealing in Canada, via the Twitter handle @UofTSCCO and the hashtag #FairUseWeek2015.

Here at the University of Western Ontario, on Friday, February 27, Prof. Samuel Trosow and I will be discussing fair dealing and how it relates to contract law. Details are below:

Copyright and contracts: The fight over information

Fair dealing is a exception to copyright infringement that is granted by the Copyright Act. In 2004, the Supreme Court characterized fair dealing as not only an exception, but as a user’s right that should be interpreted broadly. In 2012, it reiterated that position. That same year, Parliament extended the scope of this user’s right by adding “education, parody and satire” to the list of fair dealing purposes in the Copyright Act. However, copyright owners and database publishers can attempt to limit the reach of fair dealing in contracts granting subscriptions to electronic information. Are these contract terms valid? Professor Samuel Trosow and Lisa Di Valentino will discuss the intersection between copyright law and contract law that has become a significant issue in a world of digital access to knowledge.

Friday, February 27, 2015
12:00pm – 1:20 pm
North Campus Building, Room 293