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Universities Agree To Email Monitoring For Copyright Agency 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the somebody-forgot-to-read-the-fine-print dept.
New submitter fish waffle writes "The universities of Western Ontario and Toronto have signed a deal with Access Copyright that allows for surveillance of faculty correspondence, defines e-mailing hyperlinks as equivalent to photocopying a document, and imposes an annual $27.50 fee for every full-time equivalent student to pay for it all. Access Copyright is a licensing agency historically used by most universities in Canada to give them blanket permission to reproduce copyrighted works, largely to address photocopying concerns that may extend beyond basic fair-use. Since the expiration of this agreement, and with recognition that many academic uses do not require copyright permissions or payments or are already covered under vendor-specific agreements, Canadian academic institutions have been united in opposing continuation of the agreement with the agency. Access Copyright has countered with a proposal for increased fees, and expansion of the definition of copyright to include linking and the need for online surveillance. In a strange breaking of ranks, the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto have capitulated and signed agreements that basically accede to the licensing agency's demands. The Canadian Association of University Teachers bulletin provides detailed background on the issue (PDF)."
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Universities Agree To Email Monitoring For Copyright Agency

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  • by twotailakitsune (1229480) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:46PM (#39088459)
    The fact that others are NOT doing this means that people in Canadian Universities can change to a different University. Lucky people.
    • by phrostie (121428) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:47PM (#39088469)

      eh

    • Unfortunately, $27.50 is a drop in the bucket compared to tuition, and hence not likely to affect much of anything.
      • by zill (1690130)
        Engineering undergrad at UofT is around $8000 a year. $27.50 would be appropriately 0.3% of tuition. To me that feels quite substantial, considering that this $27.50 fee doesn't help students at all; they still have to spend hundreds of dollars every year on textbooks.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          0.3% feels substantial to you? You aren't going to switch schools over another $30. You might switch on the principle, but not for economic reasons. Just driving out to the university, getting lunch, and spending your time looking at the program costs more than $30.

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            Considering it costs over $1k/mo in London and Toronto in just living not food expenses? Yes, $30 is expensive. Food is a bit of a different story depending, by the time you left the university to get lunch and came to head back, the afternoon might be over.

          • by ae1294 (1547521) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:40PM (#39089305) Journal

            0.3% feels substantial to you? You aren't going to switch schools over another $30. You might switch on the principle, but not for economic reasons. Just driving out to the university, getting lunch, and spending your time looking at the program costs more than $30.

            Zill (1690130) - Engineering undergrad
            Missed something, I do think.

            • Then he's a terrible engineer. 0.3% of $8000 is $24. Transferring to another university would cost more than that in transcript fees alone (which vary but can be about $30). Once you take into account moving expenses you blow that out of the water.

              0.3% is insignificant for just about everything engineers do. You're going to use a factor of safety of somewhere between 1.5 and 2 for even the most well-known situations, 0.3% is well within this limit.
              • by zill (1690130)
                27.50/8000=0.34375%, which I rounded down to 0.3% since $8000 only has one significant digit.

                I still maintain it's substantial, considering that students gain absolutely nothing from this $27.50.
                • If you're paying $8000, and only care about the "one significant digit", can I have the $499 you don't care about ?

                  Just because a digit is 0 doesn't mean it's insignificant.

                  • by Grishnakh (216268)

                    Actually, yes it does mean that. Trailing zeroes are always insignificant, unless they're indicated otherwise [wikipedia.org] with either a decimal point at the end or a bar on top. I haven't seen any of those here.

        • The professors should supply hyperlinks to the textbooks.

      • by sgt scrub (869860)

        I remember college. I remember $27.50. I even remember not ever having $27.50 while in college.

      • by niftydude (1745144) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:54PM (#39090419)

        Unfortunately, $27.50 is a drop in the bucket compared to tuition, and hence not likely to affect much of anything.

        You are focussing on the students. I think it is more likely that the faculty staff will start leaving. Email is insecure enough as it is, and the last thing most professors actively involved in research will want is a third party having access to any unpublished research that is sent to colleagues and co-authors via email.

      • by Tuoqui (1091447) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:58PM (#39090439) Journal

        This isnt about drops in the bucket this is about Copyright Lobby's war chest...

        73,685 Students (UofT) * $27.50 = $2,026,337.50 / per year

        That is being given to hostile entities that may just come by and sue anyways. Sorry but UofT and Western Ontario did their students a great disservice by selling them out to the copyright lobby. Honestly, if I was in either of these schools I'd be transferring and encouraging everyone else to transfer to.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Expensive or not, it is just another sickening grab for greed. Students already have to pay for textbooks and access to online articles. They are now being charge extra for a link to what they are already paying for. If you can't see the transparent disingenuous grab for cash at the expense of those already struggling to feed the greed of the already rich. You paid for the content in fees already, but wait that's not enough you have to pay more to be told where to access what you have already paid for. Wil

    • Switching University may not be enough, they'll also need to ensure they don't send emails to anyone on those two University email systems.

      Are there any privacy-focused email Block Lists one could subscribe to?

  • Did I understand this correctly, linking to content is the same as providing a copy of the content and requires a fee? Does that mean that Google Canda is next?
    • Re:Poor Google? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ThePeices (635180) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:52PM (#39088499)

      Poor Google? How about poor Canadian WWW, almost every website that's hosted in Canada has at least one hyperlink to an external site, the contents of which are copyrighted.

    • Re:Poor Google? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PIBM (588930) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:55PM (#39088525) Homepage

      What I find interesting is that for 27.50$ per year per student, they have a blanket permission to reproduce any copyrighted work (should I understand the summary correctly) ... That's such a small fee vs what people have had to pay for limited copyright infringements..

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Auroch (1403671)

        What I find interesting is that for 27.50$ per year per student, they have a blanket permission to reproduce any copyrighted work (should I understand the summary correctly) ... That's such a small fee vs what people have had to pay for limited copyright infringements..

        Not quite blanket. No music, and nothing that would reproduce the entire work, unless that work is short and/or monumental.

        • by nurb432 (527695)

          "entire work" .. ok just 90% then? The parts you care about.

          Sounds like a 'unlimited license to all content'. Sort of like some of the music services here, pay a monthly fee and get all that you want.. But in this case, you can make copies.

        • Re:Poor Google? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by msobkow (48369) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @09:46PM (#39089721) Homepage Journal

          Seeing as they contractually treat sending a link as making a photocopy, it would seem that you are now allowed to photocopy entire works under this new agreement.

          Not a bad perk for the price increase at all.

          • by Coryoth (254751)

            I've heard that part of the reason that UoT and Western signed on to this is that they found the working sufficiently ambiguous in the actual contract and have their own interpretation of it that differs vastly from what Access Copyright intends. In other words, they think they have some "interpretation" loopholes big enough to drive a truck through and win big on this in the long run. I suspect the issue you point out here is exactly suhc a loophole.

      • by trolman (648780) *
        For the low price of 19.95 I will let them do anything they want on the Internet.
      • by Nikker (749551)
        An amendment to the Canadian Copyright Charter is being passed that offers the same protection as the service being offered. The other schools are banking the bill will pass, rendering the fee obsolete. These other institutions are obviously do not feel the same. This is what raised the fee from approximately $3 to the $27 dollar figure, a comapny with a failing business model trying to sustain an unsustainable business. For what ever reason UofT and Western feel the governments protection by law is not s
      • That's such a small fee vs what people have had to pay for limited copyright infringements..

        Keep in mind that the flat fee last year was $3.75 (which was paid through the University), plus an additional sum per page for course packs (which are usually paid and collected through the stores where the course packs are purchased).

        And if I'm reading the article and the backgrounder correctly, the flat fee has increased to $27.50, but the additional fee for each page hasn't gone away, and most likely the traditional penalties for copyright infringement haven't gone away either (if nothing else, the numb

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Did I understand this correctly, linking to content is the same as providing a copy of the content and requires a fee? Does that mean that Google Canda is next?

      Yes, and then the world.

  • by tkrotchko (124118) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:50PM (#39088481) Homepage

    You'd think the Universities would be the last to cave in to a blatant demand for protection money.

    Can they really be serious? Linking is equivalent to a copyright?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Apparently it's also equivalent to seeing the full page, as if merely sharing the title of a paper was all you needed to share a document.

      • I was about to say that I don't see the difference between URL-as-reference and international-standard-Harvard-system-referencing. Neither gives the reader access to something they wouldn't otherwise be able to see, and neither reproduces any content. This is a ludicrous state of affairs.
      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        Apparently it's also equivalent to seeing the full page, as if merely sharing the title of a paper was all you needed to share a document.

        Maybe if you are Edgar Cayce.

    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:12PM (#39089049) Homepage Journal

      Somebody high up in the university administrations got bribed, is my guess. I honestly can't think of any other reasonable explanation.

      • I would actually think that they caved in for psychological reasons. The mafia sent some very angry frightening people to them, and they felt that the only way to stop this terror is to pay up. The university staff was probably just trying to do the very right thing, and then the terror convinced them that strangling free flow of information and start sponsoring more terrorism was the only thing that is surely legal.
    • by cstdenis (1118589)

      Never underestimate the power of bribes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Next up: referencing ISBN numbers is considered photocopying.

      Later: SHOCKING BREAKING NEWS: Every reputable peer-reviewed field is engaged in MASSIVE copyright infringement! Just look at all the links at the end of all these articles - we can't have that!

      Still later: Per resulting legislation, no peer-reviewed articles or texts can include references, and every reference on Wikipedia has by law been replaced with [citation removed].

    • From what I can see, Universities in Canada are now more about making money and less about education. Not that you can't get a good education in the process but they are very focused on maximizing the amount of money generated.
      At University of Victoria, they added an Engineering Department, it got a brand new building, tons of funding etc, and the reasoning at the time was that it would generate revenue via patents etc.
      Meanwhile the Fine Arts department languished in the same ancient Quonset huts it had bee

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:50PM (#39088489)

    ...Access Copyright that allows for surveillance of faculty correspondence, defines e-mailing hyperlinks as equivalent to photocopying a document...

    How can emailing a hyper-link be equivalent to photocopying? When one photocopies, they then get a physical copy of a document. On the other hand, e-mailing a hyper-link provides no such physical object.

    Here's how to circumvent the insanity: Email actual documents and then argue that *no* hyper-links were emailed as required by the stipulation. How about that?

    • by Skapare (16644)

      Just tweet the links, instead.

    • by izomiac (815208)
      My guess is that someone doesn't know what the "L" in "URL" stands for. If that's not the case, I've got some directions (to a bridge) I'd like to sell...
  • Anti-scientific? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte@dr u n k snipers.com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:54PM (#39088517) Homepage

    This practice sounds like complete the opposite of the principles of scientific research.

    • by hism (561757) <{ten.fs.sresu} {ta} {msih}> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @07:47PM (#39088825)

      The prevailing trend in Canada seems to be drifting way from scientific research: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16861468 [bbc.co.uk]

      Each time I read a new article about my country, I become more and more ashamed to be Canadian...

      • by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:14PM (#39089071)

        See, people keep saying Canada is just another part of the USA, but you guys never believe us...

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          See, people keep saying Canada is just another part of the USA, but you guys never believe us...

          If they fully embraced the awesomeness that is capitalism as we have in the USA, then they wouldn't have to "muzzle" scientists, they could just not pay them. Amateurs.

      • If you think that's bad, imagine what it feels like to be an American! We were founded on awesome principles and ushered in on the back of slavery and genocide only to see things go on the down slide from there.

      • by Nemyst (1383049)

        That's what we get for having Harper in power. I didn't think people could be so foolish as to think he wouldn't make Bush look like a commie.

      • by nadaou (535365)

        Don't be ashamed to be Canadian, be furious that the current excuse for a government is sitting back while the local bully is freely wandering around destroying your town (and if they are in cahoots with said bully it's time to organize the neighbors to run them all out of town come next election).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Amadablam (516748)

      This practice sounds like complete the opposite of the principles of scientific research.

      Of course. Publishers aren't in this for the science.

      • by ae1294 (1547521)

        This practice sounds like complete the opposite of the principles of scientific research.

        Of course. Publishers aren't in this for the science.

        Science is for the weak, extort er marketing non-existent protection is for sharks.

  • Except in Canada you have to give them the right to monitor email or internet traffic as you do have reasonable expectation of privacy.

    Simply have to refuse to sign any paperwork which gives them the right to monitor. If they do monitor and try to do anything then they are basically providing evidence that makes your lawsuit very easy.

    • by Auroch (1403671) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @07:28PM (#39088725)

      Except in Canada you have to give them the right to monitor email or internet traffic as you do have reasonable expectation of privacy.

      Simply have to refuse to sign any paperwork which gives them the right to monitor. If they do monitor and try to do anything then they are basically providing evidence that makes your lawsuit very easy.

      One of the universities I attended had some BS clause about allowing them to give access of my information and documents to third parties as they saw fit. I argued it up to the dean and was eventually told that if I wanted to continue in the program, I needed to sign the clause.

      • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki.gmail@com> on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:38PM (#39089285) Homepage

        If you're in Canada, you should have demanded your money back. They have no right to give your information away, or force you to sign it away like that. It's a violation of the privacy act. Hell, if you are canadian and are in Canada, and this happened I'd consider filing a complaint to the privacy commissioner over it anyway.

        • by msobkow (48369)

          Privacy laws in Canada dictate that a service provider or business have you sign a document granting permission to use your data, and explaining how your data is going to be used, and usually verifying that they will not give away nor sell your data to third parties.

          But if you sign a contract that grants "above average" priveleges such as surveillance of professor's accounts, the contract is perfectly legal because you signed it. It is not "illegal" to "abuse" customer data, only to do so without notify

          • by msobkow (48369)

            If you read the article, they're only talking about surveillance of staff, not student, accounts. i.e. Employee emails.

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            Privacy laws in Canada dictate that a service provider or business have you sign a document granting permission to use your data, and explaining how your data is going to be used, and usually verifying that they will not give away nor sell your data to third parties. ...

            True, but they can not sign away your rights to abuse this data by handing it away to third parties(exactly who these are) and without notifying you, or in a way, shape or form that infringes on the charter or the rule of law. Which is exactly what this does. This is covered under the privacy act and case law.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        What I did with BS clauses was write "NoThankYou" backwards with the opposite hand I normally sign with on the signature space, fast enough to look like a typical sloppy signature. I have yet to have anyone question it, but if it came to a legal issue, I can say that is not my signature.

        Alternate idea: tell them that all reproduction rights have already been signed over to your literary agency, and they will have to contact them to get access.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          IANAL, but you DID sign the document. You didn't write your name, but it was you who physically signed it. Judges don't look fondly upon jokes like that.

    • I use gmail now for everything. Sure it is not "secure" in the general sense and google can sell information. But over all i am one person in millions on gmail where i am one person out of 100s in my department. And despite the lack of deep security that SSL provides, I am pretty confidant the university is not eaves dropping on gmail traffic.
  • And in other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skapare (16644) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @07:06PM (#39088595) Homepage

    Use of encryption, and international email services on HTTPS, has started to rise in Canada.

  • Time to move to an independent email account. Not a good idea to entrust your email in the hands of your employer.
  • ... why wouldn't work for email as well?
    You pay the levy/tax or whatever is called for CD-Rs as well even if you just use them to back-up your own pictures (or even if you want to use them as coasters).
    Why not tax email as well, even if you don't use it for copyright infringement, even if you don't use it at all.

  • by sdavid (556770) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @07:59PM (#39088933)
    Monitoring faculty email in this way may well violate the U of T's collective agreement with their faculty. I'm at another Canadian university, and I'm pretty sure it would violate ours.
  • WTF? have they completely lost their minds? I hope this is not the crap they are teaching the kids there.

  • Suppose I email a link that explains where a certain book is on a shelf in my home? Is that equivalent to copying the book and does it become a copyright violation? If a piece of paper with writing on it falls to the ground and I point to it, is that also not allowed? Whole matter sounds insane to me. Lucky I am in the US where this can't possibly happen.
    • by forkfail (228161)

      Can't happen in the US? Where have you been for the past decade? Let alone the last year?

  • by bky1701 (979071) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:22PM (#39089133) Homepage
    ...that no one intelligent will ever apply to again. Good job; now watch your rankings fall like the stones in your university administrators' heads.
  • by benjfowler (239527) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:24PM (#39089161)

    I heard about the "copyright police" at university, where a bunch of petty small-dicked wankers have nothing better to do, then to get paid by scumbag publishers to hang around photocopiers to make sure nobody's copying too much.

    Clearly, some fat cat assholes at Elsevier and friends are afraid of losing their obscene 45% profit margins.

    But intrusive surveillance to monitor in case somebody might link to somebody copyrighted, is bizarre and utterly extreme. It's a bit like burning down the entire forest, just because there might be a snake somewhere. But then, with corporatist extremists seemingly on the march everywhere, and seemingly completely untouchable these days, little surprises me.

  • by Grieviant (1598761) * on Saturday February 18, 2012 @08:33PM (#39089229)
    I honestly can't believe that U of T and Western would be bullied into to such an outrageous proposition, even if they were being paid money in an attempt by Access Copyright to gain a foothold so that other universities will fall in line. Although this upstanding company can surely be trusted with the contents of all faculty and student e-mail correspondences, including those containing original research ideas and algorithms that aren't intended to be disclosed to anyone else, it just doesn't sound like a good idea.
  • Why are students paying for the "privilege" of being monitored ? Do they not have law students over there ? I'd sue the goddamned administration!

  • Considering all of the news coming out of Canada, I'm wondering if it might not be a bad idea to get into the gun running business. This begs the question, "Would they sell them back, when our turn comes, at the same price".

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      can you fake a hispanic accent, our BATF might sell you some machine guns just to see what you'll do with them....

  • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @09:24PM (#39089581)
    When no one deals with them electronically, I'm guessing that the criminal researchers and students will have to submit all their PDFs and .doc files for approval too, since they also might have links in them. And if you're an academic working with them, you have to have your work inspected for purity.

    Why would anyone at universities that haven't gone batshit crazy deal with these morons? Aren't links kind like what the web is about? Canada is getting it's tubes tied. With roughly the same result

  • by avgjoe62 (558860) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @09:42PM (#39089699)

    I have a blog that I write and own the copyright on. Will Access Copyright send me my cut if a student happens to send a link to my blog to a friend? And what if they send a link to their own blog? Will that student now be entitled to a partial refund of their 27.50 Canadian?

    Seems like this could be a revenue stream that bloggers may have to wake up to!!

    • Of course they will when that amount gets to a high enough amount to cover the cost of writing a check. Now you have to keep in mind that there is only $0.50 per student being distributed to copyright holders, the rest of the $27.50 per student goes to the administrative costs that Access Copyright incurs to facilitate this process (I may be underestimating their administrative costs).
  • Obligitory (Score:3, Informative)

    by forkfail (228161) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @11:26PM (#39090281)

    Yeah, Stallman's The Right To Read [gnu.org] may be getting linked a lot (for free, still) - but it is so apt.

  • by ancarett (221103) on Sunday February 19, 2012 @12:00AM (#39090455)
    Via Ariel Katz, UofT Students and Faculty Demand Suspending the Access Copyright Agreement [arielkatz.ca]

    I'm on faculty at a different Canadian university. So far, we've cut no deal with Access Copyright yet and I hope we stay strong. You can bet that I'm asking our union to keep an eye on the situation as it relates to the privacy rights of students and faculty!

    Ironically, I benefit financially from Access Copyright, having registered as an author with them years ago when a colleague pointed out they were collecting money on my behalf, whether or not I made my claim against them. I'd much rather take a few hundred dollars out of their pockets to pass onto a copyfighting cause each year!

    If my university does cave to Access Copyright, I'll cease using my university email. It'll be annoying to switch away from an address I've used for twenty years, but better than seeming to acquiesce to further indignities. I suspect that we'll see more and more academics exploring that option if Toronto and Western are setting a trend.
    • by dcollins (135727) on Sunday February 19, 2012 @01:28AM (#39090799) Homepage

      I've worked at two universities and both, during my time there, have had IT departments evolve to demand that all communications be done by in-house email (i.e., "we cannot reply to personal email addresses for security reasons"). It seems (a) dumb, (b) not really a security benefit, (c) a violation of academic/speech freedom, and (d) unsustainable if anyone outside wants to communicate with us (i.e., break the whole structure of email itself).

      But it's the first thing I thought of with this "monitor faculty email" bit. Link that with "all correspondence must be by faculty email" and then you've got a real academic dystopia going.

      • by ancarett (221103)
        Yup, if they do get into AC and don't want to deal with an off-campus email, that's too bad. There's not that much that I care about that comes via university email but the dean's office will be the losers if they can't reach me to schedule a committee meeting!
    • Just do what I do and set up your university email to forward everything to a different address so you don't miss anything.
  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday February 19, 2012 @02:25PM (#39093811) Journal

    If only there were a way to encrypt attachments, or ideally an entire email!

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen

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