An agreement is in the works that would likely see an increase in student fees for Access Copyright, which licenses universities for copyrighted works, including course materials.
Although McMaster faculty and staff would also fall under the agreement, students would likely be absorbing the cost.
The agreement might also be redundant, given that court case precedent and the new federal Copyright Bill (Bill C-11) already offer similar protections.
“It is the University’s responsibility to provide academic materials,” said Huzaifa Saeed, McMaster Students Union’s VP (Education). He has been challenging University administration on the deal.
Under the previous agreement with Access Copyright, which expired in December of 2010, students were charged $3.80 each, plus $0.10 per courseware page. The new agreement would charge $26 a student and no per-page fee.
The elimination of the $0.10 per-page fee, though, does not necessarily mean a decrease in courseware prices, as the University could continue charging the same amount for course materials.
The agreement would also add restrictions on how students can save and share academic materials.
It appears clear at this point that the University intends to sign the deal, but the details are unclear.
Other universities have chosen different options. Some are choosing not to download the extra cost onto students, while others have refused an agreement altogether, setting up individual agreements with publishers directly, which has been much cheaper for them.
Peter Smith, McMaster’s Vice-President (Academic) and acting Provost, was unavailable for comment.