A copyright controversy was recently touched off in the Canadian higher education sector as university administrators seemed prepared to enter into an expensive new licensing deal with commercial publishers that could drive up the cost of student tuition.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, the initial terms of the agreement were tendered by Access Copyright, an organization that facilitates the distribution of commercial publications, to the Association of Universities and Colleges Canada, a coalition that represents dozens of the nation's leading higher education institutions. Each school will make its decision independently, but signing the agreement is expected to cost administrators $26 per student annually - a marked increase over current arrangements.
Student advocates are also concerned about possible interpretations of contract language that could significantly restrict the functionality of content provided and even breach individual privacy as Access Copyright monitors how materials are being used and shared.
"We are calling on university administrators to reject this arrangement and instead work with students to build a better copyright model, not spend our money shoring up an obsolete one," Canadian Federation of Students national chairperson Roxanne Dubois explained.
Some of the proposed alternatives, according to the Ottawa Citizen, include campus-wide electronic database licenses that enable online journals and e-books to be directly incorporated into course packs or open access licensing that utilizes research made freely available through online outlets.