Access Copyright Tariff Challenge

Currently Universities and Colleges across Canada are spending hundreds of man-and-woman hours pulling together a list of copy machines, computers, scanners, etc., at the whim of Access Canada Copyright (got the name wrong throughout this post, initially), the agency created, and then named in high irony, to restrict the educational use of materials, to pursue an obsolete model of protecting the interests of creators, and to funnel the resulting funds into pockets unknown. At least, that’s what you might think their mandate was if you judged by their actions. For their self-image, see their About Us page.

Backed in this request by the Copyright Board of Canada, Access Canada Copyright intends that all Canadian students should increase their payments from $5.16 to $45/$35 per student. It’s all in their Statement of Proposed Royalties.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Canadian Library Association, and many others have objected to the increases, and not only on financial grounds. All objectors were dismissed, except the AUCC and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges.

I cannot believe the Board dismissed the CLA. The best summary of objections is produced by the CLA (see above). From the university library community, this letter of support for the AUCC.

In any case. it is obvious that Access Canada Copyright suffers from the effects of too much of their own Kool-aid. Their recipe for a Board of Directors is one part publishing industry advocates, one part creator advocates, and zero parts public interest advocates. No wonder they are sleep walking into this. If they knew a bit more about who they are trying to sell their licenses to, they might come up with a better strategy.


  1. David Collier-Brown

    In a word, barbarous…

    As a former York staff person and a published author, I find the so-called access copyright initiative to be bad public policy. As an author, I get nothing. As an educator, I pay. The worst of all possible worlds…

    –dave (alas, frothing at the mouth a wee bit) c-b

  2. Well, I belive in art and culture, creation and innovation. If we do not compensate the creator, artist and scientist then innovation will stop. I feel pretty guilty by the fact that throughout my university degree I rarely bought any text book, I photo copied the entire book, instead, to save money. And its not only me, a lots of my fellow students used to do the same. Therfore, I am for strong copy right law and enforcement.

    Toronto, ON

  3. Hear, hear. A large part of my summer is being spent doing the contortions necessary to try and deliver content to students.

    Bon, I don’t think anyone would disagree with your notion of fairly compensating creators, that is not the point here. The point here is revenues for Access Copyright, a third party organization that Michael referred to as somewhat nebulous as in “who are these people holding us up?”. There are questions of fair dealing and educational exemptions which are being trod over by these folks. Universities have always paid for the material you used as a student, Access Copyright just wants them to pay more; to the point of unreasonableness. The result being that Universities have either giving in to highway robbery and passing the fees onto students or find themselves stuck in an uncomfortable grey area trying to meet their obligations.