The long debate concerning whether universities across Canada should sign on to Access Copyright’s model plan is ongoing. The University of Calgary is still in the consultation process and has delayed signing on to the agreement once again.
The U of C opted out of Access Copyright’s previous plan in 2011 after the prices increased, but in April 2012, the copyright collective introduced a new agreement that is stirring debate nationwide.
On May 15, the university signed a letter of intent, meaning the U of C remains interested but does not have to formally sign the agreement, prior to the deadline on June 30. Again, the U of C administration is continuing to speak with stakeholders before a decision is made. The next deadline to sign on is September 30.
The model agreement allows educational facilities to reproduce digital and printed works while acting within copyright. There is an estimated yearly cost of $780,000 for the U of C if they sign on to the agreement. However, many stakeholders and educational institutions are concerned that the agreement will only hinder students’ ability to access copyrighted materials.
According to a June 20 Canadian Alliance of Student Associations press release, Canadian universities are advised to object to the model license.
“Increasing information accessibility is paramount to the improvement of post-secondary education in Canada. Signing an agreement with Access Copyright will increase restrictions and fees at institutions for an outmoded delivery model. The modern pace of change in information sharing and development renders such a license counterproductive,” said casa national director Zachary Dayler in the press release.
According to U of C’s provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall in utoday on July 4, the U of C needs time to make an informed decision concerning this extremely complex issue.
“The Copyright Committee of the [U of C] is working hard on behalf of the university community, and intends to use the next few months to continue to do our due diligence and consult concerning this complex matter,” said Marshall. “The [U of C] is committed to providing our university community with the resources it needs to easily and legally access learning and research material.”
Students’ Union vice-president academic Kenya-Jade Pinto said the U of C administration is doing everything in its power to gather the information needed to make the right decision. She said the extra time the university has gained by postponing the agreement to September 30 has made the process easier.
“The provost continues to do her due diligence in making sure that all stakeholders on campus are being consulted and that the right decision is made,” said Pinto. “It provides the university with some more time to take an in depth scan at the resources on campus that are available, and in order to make the most informed decision. By not signing the June 30 deadline, the university has effectively gained resources so the best decision can be made and really see what is needed on campus.”
Marshall said the university has a lot of work that still needs to be done so that the best interests of students and stakeholders on campus are met.
“Whether or not our university signs an agreement with Access Copyright, we are doing a number of things as an institution to manage our university’s copyright needs,” said Marshall.