A new way forward with universities

June 28, 2018

Copyright Agency and Universities Australia, representing 39 universities, have started negotiations on a new licensing agreement. For us and our members this is our second largest licence agreement, valued at over $30m per annum, and we are keen to work with UA to ensure its continued success.

This blanket copyright licence allows university teachers and librarians to share vast amounts of published work without having to seek permission, because a fair payment is made to creators under the licence. This is for less than the cost of a textbook for every student.

All universities participate in the licence and they utilise it to deliver millions of pages of valuable teaching content, such as books and journals in digital and hardcopy format, every year to university students across Australia. We conduct surveys of usage through an independent company, to sample the type and quantity of content being used under the licence.

Our current arrangements have been in place for many years and we think it’s time for a rethink to deliver a more innovative approach which integrates with the 21st century teaching environment.

Central to our proposal is for the parties to work together on common problems; make the licence more effective for all parties; look to undertake common research projects; and to ensure the arrangements continue to support the sector. We propose to do this by:

  • setting a reasonable licence fee
  • decreasing the survey burden for universities where possible, and
  • offering digital products and services, such as our new product, Flex, as part of the package

Copyright law and reform does not stand still, and we also think it’s important to include a mechanism in the new licensing agreement that allows us to jointly consider future changes to the Copyright Act. Our view is that consensus is the best way forward to deliver potential amendments to the Copyright Act that will work for both the university sector as well as for writers, publishers and visual artists, which should be achievable given our shared interests.

The current agreement runs until the end of the year. We will keep you updated on progress in this important area.