U of W Rejects Copyright Deal as 'Money Grab'

By Martin, Nick | Winnipeg Free Press, May 19, 2012 | Go to article overview

U of W Rejects Copyright Deal as 'Money Grab'


Martin, Nick, Winnipeg Free Press


U of M to sign national agreement

The University of Winnipeg is opting out of a national copyright deal the U of W says would be a waste of $200,000 a year.

University president Lloyd Axworthy said this week that the university senate will vote next week to opt out of a copyright licence agreement the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has signed with Access Copyright, a private company based in downtown Toronto.

The University of Manitoba and several of Canada's largest universities will sign the deal. University College of the North said it doesn't use enough copyrighted material to make it worthwhile.

Axworthy said the deal would cost the U of W $26 per full-time student, which he called "a big money grab."

The university library and bookstore already have licensing deals with various publishers, which ensure access to copyrighted materials while giving authors and publishers a fair return on their work, Axworthy said.

"The (campus) consensus is, this deal doesn't provide much protection" on copyright infringement the U of W doesn't already have, he said.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has also been critical of the deal, which AUCC negotiated recently after giants University of Toronto and Western University signed on with Access Copyright.

Axworthy said the deal infringes on academic freedom -- it gives the private company the right to look for violations of copyright in something as simple as a student quoting and footnoting a paragraph from an online link.

"There's an implied iron fist in this," he said.

But Maureen Cavan, executive director of Access Copyright, said her company ensures authors and publishers get fair payment for their work.

"The only purpose of this is to protect the author and publisher," Cavan said. Access Copyright is a collective with links to international organizations, providing legal access to far more material than she believes the U of W has through existing agreements, she said.

Any licenced university and any person associated with that school can legally copy up to 20 per cent of a published book from the company's clients, Cavan said. …

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