Last week, the University of British Columbia made brief headlines when it declared that, as a matter of principle, it was not going to sign a collective licensing agreement with Canada's copyright licensing agency, Access Copyright. The principle at work was unclear, since a copyright licence is nothing more than payment for materials used. Was the principle "we don't want to pay for materials we will use?"
In a broadcast e-mail rife with the same free culture rhetoric and inaccuracies Canada's artists have suffered for years now, UBC declared that they could do without Access Copyright licensing and still provide the same, if not better, educational materials for their tuition-paying students. This claim was repeated by Allan Bell, UBC director for library digital initiatives, in a recent article in the Ubyssey, the student newspaper at UBC. Mr. Bell said "“We showed that we could live without the interim tariff and things went quite well for the last year since September. [It] went so well, in fact, that we think we can continue on that course...”
Judging by the lone comment beneath the UBC article, not all the tuition-paying students agree with the administration's assessment of their materials coverage. And I quote (carefully):
What a crock of sh*@. Clearly Mr. Bell isn't speaking on behalf of science students, as we might as well have been in the f*#@ing dark ages dusting off library tomes this past year. The majority of our lecture powerpoints and handouts were filled with blank slides where diagrams are supposed to be because UBC was too arrogant to pay the interim fee until they inevitably walked away from this agreement - leaving students completely sc@#*ed in the process. Know what's less fun than learning from professors at a research university that cares little for its undergrads? Having to look up 10-20 diagrams per lecture. Yeah, real win there UBC... thanks.
When you're paying upwards of $5,000 per year in tuition on a campus that sports a private golf course and some of the most expensive beachfront property in North America, and that school is unwilling to pay $26 per year so that you can have all the materials you actually need for your learning, I think a little spicy language might be excusable.