Court Ruling Could Impact McMaster Copyright Deal

August 7, 2012 at 16:46 pm

Mac student union seeks clarity on university copyright deal after court ruling
From the Hamilton Spectator
By Molly Hayes
July 12, 2012

The McMaster Students Union is hoping a Supreme Court ruling on copyright will push the university’s administration to take a second look at a recently signed agreement.

Mac was among several Canadian universities that signed a deal with licensing agency Access Copyright this spring, as a legal precaution against copyright infringement for things such as photocopied course packs.

The court ruling released Thursday, stating that the use of photocopied works for students is not a copyright infringement, came less than a month after the universities signed their agreement.

While this decision references K-12 (kindergarten through high school), the student union (MSU) says the decision is likely to have an impact at the university level as well.

“The specific wording of the ruling references ‘research and private study,’” said Huzaifa Saeed, MSU’s vice-president of education.

He says the principle is the same no matter the institution.

“We believe it applies because there’s not much difference. It’s for educational purposes. If you’re learning in a K-12 classroom, you’re also learning in a university classroom.”

McMaster’s deal with Access Copyright was based on an agreement reached with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) earlier this year, on a licence model granting schools the use of copyrighted materials in their repertoire.

McMaster’s agreement costs full-time students $3.38 per year, plus a 10-cent per page royalty fee for course-pack copying. Once the new deal takes effect, the school will be charged a flat fee of $26 per full-time student — a fee Saeed says will likely come out of students’ pockets.

Financial and privacy concerns had the MSU opposed to the deal from the start.

“I feel that (the ruling) goes to prove what I said … a month ago,” Saeed said. “I’m really happy for the universities that decided not to sign the agreement.”

York University and the University of British Columbia are among the schools that rejected the deal.

McMaster’s administration said while they will review the Supreme Court ruling and its effect on their agreement, they are confident that it applies only to K-12 classrooms.

“We’ll review the ruling, and I’m sure universities across the country will take time to review the ruling,” said Gord Arbeau, McMaster’s director of public and community relations. But our understanding is that the agreement that we signed in the past few weeks would still be relevant and important. … We would still require licence to copy required readings for students.”

The agreement does not affect students in the 2012-13 school year. The new fees are set to come into effect in 2013-2014.

“Right now, I hope that the universities, the AUCC, gather together again and try to find a way out of this,” Saeed said.

To read the original article, please click here.

For more information, please contact:

Huzaifa Saeed
VP (Education)  
905-525-9140 ext. 24017

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