Copyright changes to cost universities

A copyright fee increase set by Access Canada will add considerable costs to coursepacks created at universities. UBC currently spends about $650,000 on copyright fees. The fee increase is predicted to increase UBC’s copyright expense to almost $2 million.

The previous copyright agreement ended December 31, and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada is appealing the new tariff increase. Any outcome is likely to speed the adoption of digital reading lists and digital reserves where possible, at Canadian universities.

However, many materials are not available electronically, and in some cases, copyright laws and licence agreements prohibit creating e-reserves without additional payment. The issue is complex and in transition.

For now, a hybrid solution to provide students with reading materials may be the best one. A single central reading list can be created for each course, making it easy for students to understand how to access their readings. For items that can be digitally accessed, a link will lead students to the reading; library staff frequently provide this kind of linking. Other items might be kept in print reserve in the library, or provided via a coursepack. Although this solution is not perfect, neither is the world of publishing, and today’s students are capable of understanding this complexity, providing their reading list is kept in a central place such as their course management system website.

Following this route will keep the cost of coursepacks down, and allow students to access many materials at home 24/7, leading to greater student satisfaction and success.

For details about UBC’s approach to the copyright issue, please see the UBC Library’s Copyright webpage.

For further information see
Copyright fees could force universities to embrace digital age
, published in the Vancouver Sun on December 30.

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