Campus Life

Copyright changes create framework for transition

When Access Copyright, the collective that administers creator and publisher rights, changed the model by which it would charge users for the use of copyrighted materials, it set off shockwaves across the Canadian university landscape.

Where previously universities faced a licensed model that charged libraries a little more than $3 per student and set the price of course packs at 10 cents per page, Access Copyright introduced a combined tariff that grouped charges together into one $45 per student price. Needless to say, universities across the country cried foul.

In stepped the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), who took up negotiations for Canadian post-secondary institutions with Access Copyright. Before long, the two sides were at the foot of the Copyright Board of Canada. AUCC is working closely with Canadian universities and colleges, including the University of Lethbridge, providing information and recommending strategies and next steps.

With no agreement signed with Access Copyright, U of L faculty will not be able to create course packs as usual. University Librarian Alison Nussbaumer says it necessitated the creation of a project team to lead and manage the transition. They have since created a website loaded with information to assist faculty and instructors with the process, including suggestions on where to find course materials and a feedback forum where faculty can submit questions.

"What we've done is try to think of all the questions people might ask, and then provided those answers under the FAQ tabs in the website," says Nussbaumer. "The most important thing about the site is the feedback area. If people look through the website and can't find what they're searching for, please post a question and somebody on the project team will do their best to find the answer."

As of now, there is no end in sight to the legal proceedings and even if Access Copyright and the AUCC were to come to an agreement, Nussbaumer says it could all become moot by copyright legislation currently being debated in the House of Commons. That debate is trying to address the emergence of the digital age and how it affects copyright.

"There's a transition in the publishing world, it is increasingly graduating towards electronic content," says Nussbaumer. "Even though we're being forced right now, in terms of timing, to respond because of an external situation, internally I think there will eventually be a shift away from print course packs anyway, based on student preference and blended learning."

She says it's a natural move into the digital age.

"Students are going after content in different ways. I see a lot of things now that are being born digital, there is no print equivalent," she says.
Presently, Nussbaumer advises faculty that the simplest route for next term may be to put items on library reserve for use. By the middle of December, the library will introduce a new search interface that will, where available in the license, inform the user if there is permission for a full text article to be used in course packs and learning management systems such as the U of L's new Moodle system.

"If faculty members want to know if an article is approved for Moodle or a course pack, they can search for it by journal title and a box will pop up and tell them whether it is approved for use," says Nussbaumer.

"Working without a collective license is a work in progress. It's new to every institution across the country, and here at the U of L we're trying to make it as easy for faculty as possible. Quite frankly, those who are most impacted are faculty who use a lot of course packs."

She urges those with questions to visit the website (, and if they can't find the information they are looking for, to please contact project team members through the feedback option. If there is a demand for workshops on specific areas of copyright legislation, that too could be a consideration. In the end, Nussbaumer says it might be time for the addition of a copyright officer on campus to help wade through this new territory.

"It really is a shift for everyone and we're working through this the best we can," she says. "We haven't planned any workshops as of yet but if there is a need for them or any additional information, let us know through the website and we could put a workshop together to address specific needs."