Broadcast E-mail: UBC is not signing a license agreement with Access Copyright, May 15, 2012

The following message is sent on behalf of David H. Farrar, Provost and Vice President Academic (Vancouver) and Doug Owram, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Principal (Okanagan).

After extensive review, the University of British Columbia has decided not to sign a license agreement with Access Copyright (AC) based on the model that it has recently negotiated with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

We believe we are taking the bolder, more principled and sustainable option, which best serves the fundamental and long-term interests of our academic community.

AC, the copyright collective that collects copyright fees on behalf of a number of publishers from universities and colleges in Canada, offered certain one-time discount incentives to universities to sign a license based on the model.   In order to maximize such discount incentives, universities had to determine by May 15, 2012, whether or not they would sign. In light of these new developments, UBC reviewed its 2011 decision to operate outside the tariff and has determined that it is in the best interests of its students and faculty to stay the course and to not sign a license with AC. In making this determination, UBC recognizes that the circumstances of each university are unique and that different decisions will be made across Canada.

We are determined to stay this course for three main reasons:

  • UBC has existing license agreements with over 950 publishers providing access to online resources.  UBC’s decision positions us towards a sustainable future and full adoption of digital learning and teaching technologies.
  • UBC remains concerned about the affordability of higher education, which is borne in part by taxpayers and in part by students.  The measures taken by UBC since its 2011 decision have positioned it well and enable UBC’s students and faculty to access teaching and research materials more cost-effectively than if UBC were to enter into a license based on the model.
  • The AUCC model license only permits copying of up to 10% of a work (20% in case of course packs) and only with respect to a narrow repertoire that is almost exclusively print-based.   Therefore, the license would not be cost-effective for UBC and does not absolve faculty members and students from the need to respect the legal rights of copyright owners.

UBC’s faculty, staff, and students have worked very hard since 2011 when UBC decided to operate in a copyright-compliant fashion without resorting to the interim tariff. We thank you for your efforts and support since we embarked on this course last year. We believe this reflects UBC’s core values:  academic integrity, the respect of intellectual property rights and a sustainable future.

UBC remains committed to providing our academic community with the resources it needs to easily and legally access learning and research material, including:

  • The dedicated website ( with extensive information on how to efficiently and legally access teaching and research materials;
  • The existing UBC Copyright Advisory Group that responds to questions and supports faculty and staff regarding appropriate use of copyrighted materials;
  • Ongoing course pack production with copyright clearances arranged through the Bookstore; and
  • The new UBC Copyright Office, which will be established to further enhance UBC’s capacity to support faculty, staff and students, through the provision of one-on-one support for lecture note review for faculty members and other instructional supports.

For more information and new developments, please consult the Copyright at UBC website at: