CAUT reaction to copyright agreements signed by Western and U of T

Copyright agreement with Western and Toronto a bad and unwarranted dealBackgrounder on copyright agreement]

(Ottawa – February 2, 2012) The Canadian Association of University Teachers is condemning an agreement two universities have made that allows for the surveillance of faculty correspondence, unjustified restriction to copyrighted works and more than a million-dollar increase in fees.

This week, the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto signed a deal with the licensing group Access Copyright that includes: provisions defining e-mailing hyperlinks as equivalent to photocopying a document; a flat fee of $27.50 for each full-time equivalent student; and, surveillance of academic staff email.

“Toronto’s and Western Ontario’s actions are inexplicable,” said James L. Turk, CAUT executive director. “They have buckled under to Access Copyright’s outrageous and unjustified demands at a time when courts have extended rights to use copyrighted material, better alternatives are becoming available to the services Access offers and just before the passage of new federal copyright legislation that provides additional protections for the educational sector”.

Turk also pointed out that the Supreme Court is set to clarify the educational use of copyrighted works in the coming months, clarifications that could undercut Access’s bargaining position. In contrast to Western Ontario and Toronto, many institutions have opted out of agreements with Access Copyright or are fighting its demands at the Copyright Board of Canada.

“These two universities threw in the towel on the copyright battle prematurely,” said Turk. “We call on other post-secondary institutions not to follow Toronto’s and Western Ontario’s example of capitulating to Access Copyright. It‘s time to stand up for the right to fair and reasonable access to copyrighted works for educational purposes”.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is the national voice of 66,000 academic and general staff in more than 100 universities and colleges across the country.