Access Copyright and Academic Libraries in Canada

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The following is the response of the NLLA to the recent decision of two of Canada’s universities (University of Toronto, and University of Western Ontario) to enter into licensing agreements with Access Copyright. We have sent this open letter to Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Faculty Association and will be distributing it to other library associations in Atlantic Canada:

In 2011, over 30 Canadian universities and colleges opted out of licensing agreements with Access Copyright, The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency, due to both Access Copyright’s significant increase in per-student fees as well as the introduction of what many considered to be intrusive and impractical monitoring requirements.

The NLLA fully endorses the decision of Canadian universities and colleges to opt out of the proposed Access Copyright agreement, which we feel would have a significant and unnecessary negative impact on teaching and learning and on academic freedom in this country. In January 2012, two universities, the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario entered into a voluntary licensing agreement with Access Copyright. Hopefully, other institutions will not emulate this misguided and inexplicable decision.

From a library perspective, one of the most troubling aspects of the deal signed with Access Copyright is that it gives Access Copyright additional rights that simply do not exist under Canada’s copyright legislation, specifically, defining copying to include “posting a link or hyperlink to a digital copy”, a definition not upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. Academic libraries have already paid for access to online content. Having to essentially “pay twice” to link to this content in library reserves, on course sites, or even in an email is unacceptable.

The NLLA strongly urges universities and colleges, particularly those in Newfoundland and in Atlantic Canada, not to capitulate to Access Copyright’s unfair and unreasonable demands. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is also condemning the agreement, advising universities and colleges that “It‘s time to stand up for the right to fair and reasonable access to copyrighted works for educational purposes.”

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