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CAUT saddened by Access Copyright’s hopeless lawsuit

(April 9, 2013) The association representing Canada’s academic staff is disappointed that Access Copyright, a licensing agency representing some authors and publishers, is suing York University for copyright infringement.

“New copyright laws and practices have rendered Access Copyright’s business obsolete and it is sad that they think they can revive it through pointless litigation,” says James L. Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). “In a world of direct licenses with content providers, open access publishing, and fair dealing, the organization needs to stop its ill-considered lawsuits and focus on finding a new rationale for existence.”

The post-secondary education sector spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on copyrighted works. Increasingly, this money flows directly to large publishing companies through site licenses that sideline Access Copyright’s previous role as a marketplace broker. Growing emphasis on open access publishing where academics make their scholarly work available for free on the internet has further diminished the need for Access Copyright.

In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada established fair dealing (the right to copy without permission or payment under various circumstances) as a powerful tool for research and study. Amendments to the Copyright Act in 2012 and further decisions from the Supreme Court have confirmed fair dealing in the educational context.

“Suing York University signals Access Copyright is not interested in working with educators to find a useful role for itself,” says Turk “We urge them to drop this legal action. It will waste vast amounts of student and taxpayer money in a hopeless attempt to turn back the clock on well-established law.”

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is the national voice of 68,000 academic and general staff at more than 120 universities and colleges across the country.

Click here to read CAUT’s letter to the Executive Director of Access Copyright.