Thursday, December 23, 2010

Access Constriction at York University Following AUCC Fair Dealing Policy

An example of the fallout in the form of copyright chill and denial of access that is being promoted by AUCC itself can be seen at York University (my undergrad law alma mater).

Believe or not, York University has advised its faculty:
CHECK with the Libraries to see if there is a licence or subscription that permits copying, posting, or linking to the published material.  (emphasis added)
Even AUCC does not go so far as to suggest that linking requires permission. But maybe York U's administration hasn't heard that linking is not something covered by  Copyright Act. 

Here are documents that York has sent out to its faculty yesterday, on the eve of the “sky is falling” deadline set up by Access Copyright of January 1, 2011:

Here also is York U’s very unhelpful and very obsolete website material “Copyright and You”

Here, one will find such gems as:

In addition to considerations of personal liability, the staff of the York University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections, and Printing Services have a professional responsibility to respect copyright law and thus may refuse to copy or print something for you if they deem it to be an infringement of copyright law.


Can I digitize copyrighted materials?
Faxing, scanning, and other forms of electronic reproduction and transmission are also considered copying but the copy cannot be kept in digital form. Digital copies are allowed only as an interim format with paper copies being the final product. Even then, the electronic copies must be promptly destroyed.

What are the penalties for copyright infringement?

If one does not obtain appropriate permission from the copyright owner(s) to use protected works, both civil and criminal penalties can be imposed.
(emphasis added)
All of this results from overly cautious advice that could have come from Access Copyright itself. 

One might well ask whether:
Canadian universities are serving the interests of their faculty and students by self imposing policies and practices  that their counterparts in other countries - particular the USA - would find incomprehensible, unworkable and even risible?
How Canadian post secondary teachers and students can hope to be competitive with their foreign counterparts when “access” to essential reading material is discouraged or denied?
The “Can’t Copy” attitude of Access Copyright and AUCC are threatening the economics and quality of higher education in Canada?
Whether - if AC and Canada's post secondary institutions can’t deal with this in the public interest  - legislative intervention is required.?


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