Copyright confusion

By Michael Grondin

The frustration and confusion surrounding Access Copyright is still ongoing, as universities maintain a ‘wait and see’ approach to the court decision before deciding their next course of action.

The partnership between the University of Calgary and Access Copyright, which ended on Sept. 1, 2011, ensured that students and instructors had access to copyrighted works and texts, in which Access Copyright acted as an intermediary for the reproduction and distribution of those works.

In 2010, however, when the conditions came up for renewal, Access Copyright turned their old agreement into a $45 per student tariff, however U of C has opted out of the tariff, said head of access services Rob Tiessen, stating that the supreme court, the federal government and the copyright board are currently coming to terms with the situation.

“For the next six months, it’s going to be a little bit confusing until we hear what the Supreme Court has to say and we see what the final version of the bill that passes through parliament will be,” said Tiessen. “At that point, we’ll have a better idea as to what the situation is and whether we even need a license at all.”

Tiessen said the decision that is finally made can make or break the dealings, but the University of Calgary must remain patient.

“You’ve got the tariff filings before the copyright board, you’ve got the supreme court who are listening to the arguments, and there are a lot of balls in the air at this point,” said Tiessen.

However, since the university is already paying large sums of money for copyrighted works and online materials, paying the tariff is unnecessary, according to Greg Hagen, a professor in the faculty of law.

“The university is already paying publishers and authors for access to academic journals and online sources,” said Hagen. “It’s already paid for. Why would the university want to pay $45 a student just for the Access Copyright repertoire?”

According to Students’ Union vice-president academic Ola Mohajer, students are not being impacted by the court proceedings.

“At this point, students are not being affected, and as long as students are able to receive the information they need for their classes, and if they can get their course packs, that’s what’s important,” said Mohajer. “The Students’ Union will always strive to ensure that course materials are affordable for students and our advocacy efforts in this case, as well as the university’s interests in maintaining access to information, remains successful and stays in the students’ interest.”

The university will be able to carry on as usual, but close attention must still be paid to the undergoing decisions.

“I know it’s a frustrating situation for everyone, and I think universities in general are in an odd situation,” said Tiessen. “Until the supreme court and the copyright board makes their decision, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

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