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CAUT and CFS withdraw from Copyright Board Hearing

(December 23, 2013) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) announced today that they will withdraw their participation from the Post-Secondary Educational Institution Tariff (2011-2013) hearing before the Copyright Board of Canada. Access Copyright has been attempting to use this tariff to force colleges and universities to pay a dramatically higher per-student fee in order to use works in their repository.

“When the university and college associations dropped out of the process, the CAUT and CFS were left as the last institutional adversaries to the tariff,” said CAUT Executive Director James Turk. “We had to weigh the potential positive impact we can have in the hearing against appearing to legitimize a process of which we are increasingly doubtful. In the end we believe it would be better to withdraw.”

Universities and colleges across Canada are opting out of licensing agreements with Access Copyright, relying instead on open access journals, fair dealing, and direct licenses with publishers. Throughout the hearing, the Copyright Board has shown little interest in CAUT’s and CFS’s request to first address fundamental legal questions relating to the scope and authority of the tariff. In this context, the likelihood of CAUT and CFS influencing the outcome of the hearing, and the relevance of the hearing itself, have become increasingly remote.

“Remaining involved in the Copyright Board hearing is no longer advantageous in defending students against exploitation by Access Copyright,” said Jessica McCormick, National Chairperson of the CFS. “We will continue this fight on our campuses and in our classrooms until students’ right to use materials for educational purposes takes precedence over private profits.”

The Copyright Board hearing is scheduled to begin February 12, 2014. CAUT and CFS filed a formal objection to the tariff in August 2010. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the Association of Community Colleges of Canada withdrew their objections on April 24, 2012 and October 25, 2013 respectively.

The Canadian Federation of Students is Canada's largest student organisation, uniting more than one-half million students in all ten provinces. The Canadian Federation of Students and its predecessor organisations have represented students in Canada since 1927. 

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