Course Pack prices significantly reduced in Fall 2013

The UBC Bookstore provides a custom course pack service for UBC faculty at both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. The service includes producing the physical copies that make up course packs, and ensuring that all copies are made in compliance with copyright laws. The price of course packs include the costs of production, and the amounts paid to obtain any necessary copyright permissions.

As a result recent developments and lot of hard work by UBC faculty and staff, the cost of course packs created and sold through the UBC Bookstore has dropped by an average of at least 33 percent, compared to last year (please note: cost reductions are greater for some course packs than others).

How did this happen? These reductions in course pack pricing have been made possible by three developments:

  1. Use of Digital Subscription Licences. The UBC Library obtains and manages digital subscription licences, making millions of journal articles and other scholarly materials available for use in the UBC Connect learning management system, and for personal research or study. Many of these licences permit copying for course packs, at no extra cost. The UBC Library has worked closely with the UBC Bookstore to ensure that digitally licensed materials are incorporated into course packs, whenever possible.
  2. Reliance on Fair Dealing. The Copyright Act says that one may copy from a copyright-protected work if the copying is “fair dealing”. For a copy to qualify, the copy has to be for one of several listed purposes, and the dealing in the copy must be fair. Until recently, fair dealing was most relevant and useful for individual faculty, staff and students.  In 2012, the Copyright Act was modernized and the Supreme Court of Canada released several landmark decisions about fair dealing. The result is not only that Canadian copyright law is generally better suited for the digital era, but that “education” is specifically listed as a fair dealing purpose, and the “symbiotic” relationship between an educator and their students was confirmed. It is therefore now permissible for the UBC Bookstore to exercise fair dealing when it produces course packs on behalf of faculty.  For a more detailed examination of fair dealing, see the UBC Copyright Guidelines. For the rules applicable to UBC faculty and staff regarding copyright, and fair dealing in particular, see the Copyright Requirements, and the Fair Dealing Requirements.
  3. Avoidance of Onerous Blanket Licence Terms. When UBC’s licence agreement with Access Copyright (AC) expired in December, 2010, Access Copyright demanded dramatically increased fees of $45 per full time student. UBC, together with many other educational institutions across Canada, questioned whether there was sufficient value in what AC proposed. In the end, UBC concluded that UBC’s faculty, staff and students are capable of operating in compliance with their copyright obligations without the onerous and duplicative blanket fees and invasive surveillance terms imposed by AC. The Copyright at UBC site contains a detailed history of UBC’s decisions and actions regarding copyright.

These developments created the opportunity to reduce course pack costs, and we commend UBC’s faculty and staff, whose dedication and hard work allowed UBC to make the reductions a reality. In particular, the UBC Bookstore and the UBC Library are to be commended for their diligent, collaborative efforts to reengineer and streamline business processes to ensure that course materials are properly assessed and cost-effectively included in course packs.

The affordability of course materials is a real issue for students and these cost reductions show progress. The UBC Bookstore offers students choices for their course materials including used books and a coursebook rental program that saves students 50% compared to the cost of purchasing new books.  UBC will continue to work to find further opportunities to improve the affordability of course materials, both in course packs ordered through the bookstore and through digital alternatives.

Louise Cowin, Vice President, Students
David Farrar, Provost and Vice President, Academic (UBC Vancouver)
Deborah Buszard, Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (UBC Okanagan)