Universities to pay fees for eMailing links while faculty inboxes are monitored

The agreement will be in place until December 2013. UOW and UT can renegotiate the terms of the agreement after that. The universities’ renewal with Access Copyright will eliminate a 10-cent fee for every page of copyrighted material a student prints for a course packet.

Janice Deakin, UOW’s provost and vice president, said covering potential electronic copyright violations in the newest agreement would be an important legal maneuver to safeguard the university from lawsuits.

“The backdating of the agreement gives us peace of mind by covering past digital uses that may have exposed the university and the indemnity provision increases the university’s legal protection against copyright infringement,” she said.

A document outlining OUW’s negotiations with Access Copyright showed that university officials fought the inclusion of eMailed links in the final copyright agreement.

“We were adamant that we could not agree that hyperlinking constituted copying under the Copyright Act,” the university said. “In the end, we negotiated a compromise in which we essentially agreed to disagree over what constitutes copying, and there is a clear statement in the agreement to that effect.

UT’s agreement with Access Copyright doesn’t only deal with teaching-related copyrighted materials – it encompasses all materials used by university staff for professional purposes, Katz wrote.

“The university isn’t a ‘broker,’ but a ‘licensee,’ and has taken upon itself not only to pay license fees, but also to comply with a host of restrictions and obligations that concern the way most of its members conduct their day-to-day activities as researchers, students, librarians, administrators, and IT staff,” he wrote. “These obligations are not only unnecessary and burdensome, but may also threaten their privacy and academic freedom.”

Knowlton Thomas, a Vancouver-based associate editor of the blog TechVibes, described the universities’ Access Copyright deal as a “harebrained cockamamie copyright agreement” in a Feb. 21 blog post.

“And you just know that cost will be directly passed onto the poor students,” he wrote of the new per-student fee.

A UT spokeswoman did not respond to an eMail from eCampus News asking if the fee would lead to an increase in student tuition or technology fees.