Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ACCC Makes Model License Deal with Access Copyright & Raises More Questions re Prior Deals

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges has just struck a deal with Access Copyright. It is similar to the AUCC deal - with one big difference. It’s for $10 per student per year and not $26 as per AUCC and $27.50 as per UofT/UWO. Here’s the model license.

So why the difference? AC has suddenly and conveniently determined that “Although we have little data regarding digital copying on campuses, historical coursepack usage data indicates that universities copy 2.6 times more than colleges.”

This appears to justify why the ACCC license is for $10 and the AUCCC model license is for $26. But is there any evidence to support either figure?

The previous ACCC rates per FTE and per page were the same as the AUCC rate, namely $3.38 and $0.10 per page each. Here’s an example of a community college agreement.

AC originally sought $45 per FTE from universities and $35 per FTE from colleges.
So why does ACCC deal now appear to be a MUCH better deal than that of AUCC ($26) or UofT/UWO ($27.50)? Is the discrepancy in copying quantity between universities and colleges really so great?

However, it’s not that the ACCC deal is so good. It isn’t – given the CCH decision from 2004 and the imminently expected legislation, not to mention the forthcoming Supreme Court decisions which are likely to make things better and not worse for the educators than the status quo. It’s just that it makes the AUCC and UofT/Western deals look even worse than they are. And they already looked pretty bad in the eyes of most both interested and independent observers. 

Indeed, the ACCC deal is about three times more expensive than the American CCC rate which most institutions don't bother using - which is now very problematic anyway given the recent Georgia State decision. Canada is way out of line with the USA, See here and here

A prominent American law firm has now weighed in questioning why Canadian institutions would pay to do what may now be or soon will be legal anyway because:
Some critics argue that such a license is unnecessary, because educators are already permitted to copy approximately that amount without a license under existing Canadian law, or at least they will be upon the passage of Bill C-11, which is currently pending before Parliament.
None of these figures make very much sense – especially when compared to each other. Students, academic staff and taxpayers will expect some answers.

Meanwhile, other questions will arise. Will many ACCC members sign on? Will there be a “limited time” offer re retroactivity discount? Will ACCC abruptly withdraw its objection at the Copyright Board and abandon its membership, as did AUCC? What is the future of the Board hearing?


PS - York University has just announced that "After careful review, a decision has been made that York University will not be entering into the Access Copyright licence agreement that was negotiated by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC)." York is the latest entry on Prof. Ariel Katz's Hall of F/Sh/ame.

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