McGreal Warns on Access Copyright Demands

Rory McGreal of Athabasca University warns about the latest demands from Access Copyright, which could result in a major increase in costs for students and education institutions.


  1. … Access Copyright’s rather idiotic demands…
    “If the money grab were not enough, Access Copyright also wishes to burden institutions with the responsibility for monthly reporting on every page that is made available to students, including not only extensive bibliographic data, but also information on the number of students in every class, the number of staff, the term dates, the course names and codes, and electronic addresses.”

    Does the univercity’s library need to report each book that a student access while doing his research on a subject?
    Does the univercity is required to say which website the student access, how manny whitepapers he/she reads?

    Do Access Copyright realise that their demands are gonna put a large burden on univercities… and some of the demands might not be feasable? (exemple, I’ve read alot of whitepapers on Windows Server 2008 this semester for a research on it’s architecture… I did all my reading home and there’s no way the univercity can know about what I accessed.)

    “And, their agents will have the right of full access to secure institutional computer systems to spy on teachers and students use of all content.”
    Do they want to read email content? do they want to read in SSL streams? Do they realise such move might be illegal?
    Oh and do they realise that I, like alot of students rarely use school computers, so will they require that we install spy systems on our personnal laptops?

  2. Certainly some of the the proposal is completely nuts… and frankly, if this went through then why the desire to snoop around the computer systems of the university? They are already getting their tribute. Do they, instead, want to harvest stuff from there for directed marketing to the staff and students? That is the only reason that I could see for it.

    I do, however, disagree with the statement “More significantly, this tariff will serve as a disincentive for institutions that want to increase their use of free materials. With a per-student levy, there is no advantage in accessing and using the growing free educational content available on the Internet.” There is still an advantage. It is free and more likely to be up to date. In the first case it is still necessary for the university to acquire a copy (at a cost) from the publisher in order to reproduce it for the students. This reproduction would be covered by the tribute, er, levy, but still costs money to make the copies (assuming it is printed… if it is put onto a CD-R, the costs would include scanning/OCRing and then the music industry also gets its tithe via the recordable media levy ;-).

  3. hmm
    For the most part library copying should be covered under fair dealing -so say the courts. Commercial distribution should involve the collection and distribution of royalties -its fair and right , but the market should supply the mechanism necessary to discipline the price and reflect demand.

    and btw, this new approach will not allow new levels of copying. The restrictions on the amount of copying remain in place while the list of materials outside of the access copyright license grows each year.

    What happens if one outcome of the Google settlement includes a portion of works currently subject to AC license is made available for free- like Google Previews, or that institutions are granted preferential terms for access to materials?

    Access copyright has difficulty managing the distortions of their current monopoly on aging materials in their analogue world . It should be interesting to watch them compete with new content , new forms, new competition in new century.

    News of Access Copyright’s life has been greatly exaggerated.
    ( appologies to Mr Twain)

  4. @CBQ
    Agreed. However, this “levy” would seem to indicate that they aren’t interested in competing; at least to me it would seem to indicate that they want to get money even if the students and staff of the university use nothing that they represent…

    Dire Straits said it best “Money for nothing and your chicks for free” (but I doubt that is what Mark Knopfler and Sting had in mind when they wrote it 🙂

  5. Something for nothing is a great business model for AC . I wonder how many of their authors ,creators are comfortable with the approach? Perhaps we will see more use of the the creative common license as a result.

    Many authors i know will have difficulty with this new construct, not all authors are interested in their individual renumeration and those that are may may find that Access has priced them out of the market. In the future Access will compete for creators with alternatives like Google and Creative Commons. MY understanding is that list of exceptions ,or those creators and publishers not party to the Access agreement, has grown significantly over the last few years.

    It would be interesting to learn how much of the collected royalties are distributed directly to the authors and how much is distributed to the publishers. How many of those publishers are Canadian and not controlled or owned by foreign international concerns.

    At times I wonder how much Canadian policy serves Canadian author interests.

    The government confuses the interests of the Canadian reading public with the interests of so called Canadian publishers. It would not surprise me to learn after millions of dollars of lobbying that Ottawa confuses Canadian authors interests and the interests of “their” agents or publishers and in this case “their” collectives like AC.