The US Copyright Clearance Centre (“CCC”) has started a test case against Georgia State University. Here’s an article about that case pointing out the blanket license rate in the USA for a university such as Georgia State would be $3.75 per student per year. There are no additional per page costs for course packs, etc. The only additional cost would be a one-time, first-year-only administrative charge of 20% of the total annual amount for the institution. The per student rate varies depending on the nature of the institution. However, my understanding is that the GSU rate is more or less in the middle of the range.
And yes - CCC does do transactional licenses, if the university prefers that route and does not need or want a blanket license. And many don't. More info is here.
Here’s the relevant portion of a recent article about all this by Tom Allen, who is President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers:
At trial, Tracey Armstrong, president and CEO of the Copyright Clearance Center, testified that anyone seeking to use copyrighted materials could obtain permissions on a case-by-case basis through CCC's Web site or subscribe to a "blanket license." [Editor's note: CCC is underwriting half of the publishers' legal costs in this suit.] When a university adopts CCC's blanket license, called the Annual Academic Copyright License Service, it covers all faculty, students, and others attached to the institution, including distance learners. It provides access to approximately 2.5 million titles, including books and periodicals. Prices are based on the number of students attending the institution and the proportion of those in graduate study. In combination, these two licensing services and parallel efforts by publishers are making the process of obtaining permission quite efficient.
What would be the annual cost to Georgia State University if it subscribed to a blanket Annual Academic Copyright License? The answer is $114,000 in rights-holder royalties per year plus a one-time, first-year-only administrative charge of 20% of that amount.
With an estimated 30,400 students at GSU, $114,000 works out to about $3.75 per student. About the cost of one medium-sized Starbucks drink.
So - why is AC asking for $45 per student in Canada for a license that costs about $3.75 more or less in the USA? And why will millions be spent to cut that amount more or less in half - with AUCC presumably declaring “victory”? Even if the tariff comes in at $20 per head, that’s more than five times the apparent rate in the USA.
While the details of the AC blanket license and the CCC license may differ, the overall bottom line is that a university license in the USA costs only as a small fraction of what AC is demanding. And the entire Canadian post secondary system in Canada is being put to the enormous cost and inconvenience of opposing this overreaching demand at the Copyright Board.
There are many questions that arise out of this apparently enormous overall discrepancy - but for the moment, one will suffice.
Why does such a discrepancy exist?