The Information Policy Blog

The (unofficial) blog of the BCLA Information Policy Committee

AUCC Access Copyright Model License: beware hidden extra costs

The AUCC press release on the Access Copyright Model License states that the license “provides long-term certainty on price”. Does it really? Sections 14, Records Retention and Audit, and Section 15, Adjustments, clearly state that institutions that sign this license can be still liable for additional fees for use – and potentially also the costs of the audit.

Section 14 d states: “(d) If an audit conducted in accordance with this section reasonably determines that Royalties invoiced by Access Copyright have been understated in respect of any Royalties that ought to have been paid pursuant to this agreement by more than ten per cent (10%), the Licensee shall pay the reasonable costs of the audit”.

and Section 15 states: “Adjustments in the amount of Royalties (and audit costs if applicable) owed as a result of an audit under section 14, or as a result of an error or omission, shall be applied to the next invoice issued by Access Copyright to the Licensee, or, if this agreement has expired or has been terminated, paid or refunded within twenty (20) business days of receipt of notice of such adjustment(s)”.

Elsewhere, the Model License talks about copying no more than 10% of works in paper format or 20% of works in digital format. This is less than we currently have rights to under fair dealing and the vast majority of our electronic licenses. If institutions sign this license, they are giving up rights we already have through fair dealing (or by paying, sometimes quite substantial amounts, through electronic licenses)! In return, institutions take on the burden of what could be highly cumbersome audit procedures – and as the result of auditing, may have to not only pay more for use, but also for the costs of the audits if Access Copyright found that their royalty assessments were an “understatement”.

See also Ariel Katz’ analysis of the implications of the Georgia State University case for Canadians. In brief, 3 publishers sued Georgia State University for supposed copyright infringements with their e-reserves. 95% of the claims were ruled as non-infringing! Before we commit long-term to large payments to Access Copyright, let’s make sure we understand and use the rights that we currently have under fair dealing.

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