Monday, April 23, 2012

here we go again...

In his most recent Toronto Star column, free-culture activist Michael Geist is calling a recent copyright agreement between Canada's post-secondary school association and Access Copyright "one of the most expensive copyright insurance policies in Canadian history."

He might as well call the agreement one of the fasted hovercars in Canadian history. How about one of the most invisible invisibility tonics in Canadian history? Or one of the flyingest pigs in Canadian history?

The Access Copyright/AUCC model licence is exactly that - a collective copyright licence. It's not an insurance policy. Is there even such a thing as a copyright insurance policy?

What's more, the model licence is the result of negotiation and good-faith bargaining over a proven repertoire of works that Canadian universities and colleges use with great frequency. It is payment for use of materials at an agreed upon flat rate. That's about as far from insurance as you can get.

What else does Geist get wrong about the model licence? Just about everything.

Geist asserts the deal's pricetag represents "a significant increase from the previous agreement," hoping free-culture's funny math will prove his point. The new deal is $26 flat; the old one less than $4 flat plus 10 cents a page in coursepacks, therefore a significant increase. Not so fast - that 10 cents a page adds up, considering all of the photocopied and now digitally-gathered coursepacks that are used in post-sec education. Access Copyright's starting position in this negotiation was $45 flat; so, it actually looks like the AUCC got a bargain for works they know their schools will continue to use.

The rest of the column is a collection of the usual half-truths and diabolical inferences we've all come to expect from the anti-copyright crusade. In all, just a desperate, loud attempt by the well-compensated mouthpiece of free-culture in Canada to divert attention from the fact that his very own campaign against collective licensing for Canadian writers and publishers is pretty much guaranteed to fail, because it was never built on any kind of reasonable legal foundation.

Those universities Geist lists as operating "without Access Copyright altogether"? They almost certainly still use the Access Copyright repertoire, and every day they do so without paying for it is another day Canada's writers and publishers are being abused by them. Of course, the tenured Geist still gets paid whether his own university pays for a copyright licence or not, so what does he care? BTW, his university does pay a licence, ignoring the blowhardery of its own famous prof.

That Prof. Geist, in his column, chooses to not mention - at all - his long history of personal activism against Access Copyright is, sadly, not in the least bit surprising.

I have to say - that has got to be one of the dumbest Toronto Star copyright opinion pieces in Canadian history. And since Geist has been writing dumb copyright pieces in the Star for years now, that's really saying something.

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