Originally posted on Prof. Katz's blog.

The University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) has recently sent a letter to UofT's Provost and Vice President questioning the decision to sign a license agreement with Access Copyright. UTFA's letter raises many concerns that have already been shared on this blog and by others.

UTFA asks the Provost to "clarify the Administration’s interpretation of the scope of fair dealing rights and any plans by your office to advocate publicly for an expansive interpretation of these rights in higher education in Canada. This might include, for instance, any plans you have to revisit the new contract in light of pending developments in the interpretation and implementation of fair dealing rights and copyright law more broadly in Canada."

Also, probably in response to comments made at Governing Council on Feb. 16, UTFA adds that "It would be helpful to know how many faculty and librarians now receive such royalties [from Access Copyright], the size of that revenue stream, and how the new agreement will affect this flow of revenue." UTFA also asks the Provost how she sees "balancing the material interests of authors and creators of copyrighted materials among our community with the broader goal of facilitating free circulation of scholarly and creative materials for research and educational purposes within the university. Reconciling these potentially conflicting interests is of concern to the entire academic community."

This question alludes to the fact that on several occasions the Administration mentioned that the effect on the royalties received by faculty members who are members of Access Copyright has been a consideration in the decision to sign the agreement. While UTFA is correct to point out the potential conflict of interests in this regard, the letter does not mention a similar issue: the degree to which the effect on the royalties collected by the University of Toronto Press has played a role in the decision.

Nor does the letter mention what is now a publicly known: that UofT sought legal advice on the agreement from the same counsel who has been acting for Access Copyright on related issues. The question of why did UofT seek the advice of that particular counsel for that particular purpose and whether this choice has been the the wisest one is probably another matter of concern to the entire academic community.

UTFA's letter can be accessed here. As far as I know the Provost hasn't replied yet.