May 20, 2022

University of Toronto and Western University End Agreement with Access Copyright

From The Varsity (Student Newspaper at UT):

University of Toronto has decided to end its license with Access Copyright.  The announcement was made on Thursday, December 11, with U of T opting to handle its copyright dealings without the company’s assistance. The license cost U of T students a fee of $27.50 per year.

“This is a significant victory that will save students over $1.5 million annually and is the result of a campaign led by students and faculty,” said Agnes So, vice-president, university affairs of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). “I am glad that the University of Toronto has listened to our concerns and ended the collection of a fee that many students saw as a cash grab.”


Western University was in negotiations with Access Copyright at the same time as U of T. It has  also chosen not to renew its license.

The UTSU has long advocated the end of the license in favour of a university-run copyright department, similar to the systems currently operating in other schools in the country, such as UBC. The union repeatedly said that the $27.50 fee was unnecessary and could be better spent elsewhere.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: University of Toronto’s License with Access Copyright Set to End (U. of Toronto Official Statement)

The University sought to obtain a license that reflected the significant evolution in copyright regulation that has occurred over the term of the current license, including the amendments to the Copyright Act in 2012, and the Supreme Court’s expansive approach to the user right of fair dealing in its 2012 decisions. We also tried to obtain a royalty rate that took into account changing technology, increased availability of open access material, changing publishing practices and changing user expectations.

Despite this outcome, the University will continue to be diligent about compliance with copyright law, making proper use of other licenses, of fair dealing, and of other permissions. We will continue to educate our faculty regarding copyright compliance, and will intensify efforts to make expert resources available through our libraries to faculty so that they can make the widest possible range of excellent teaching and study materials available to their students in a manner that fully respects the law.

The University of Toronto’s community consists of both users and creators of copyrighted material. The University remains committed to diligent compliance with the laws that address the rights of both.  In addition, the University spends over $27 million annually on library acquisitions, including licensed material and electronic resources, and also supports scholarly publishing through the University of Toronto Press.

See Also: From Western University’s Official Statement

Western gave Access Copyright notice in June that the university did not wish to renew the existing agreement on its current terms, but would be prepared to discuss renewal at a substantially lower royalty rate that takes into account the changing copyright landscape and fairly values the service that Access Copyright provides.

During the term of the current agreement, a new federalCopyright Modernization Act was passed into law in 2012 and the Supreme Court of Canada also issued rulings that have altered the landscape considerably with respect to fair dealing and the use of published materials for education and other purposes without seeking permission of the copyright holder or paying a royalty.

As a satisfactory agreement could not be reached with Access Copyright, the university is preparing for the expiry of the current agreement on Dec. 31.

The university is providing a combination of education, information resources and services designed to ensure that members of the Western community can make informed decisions when using the published work of others in research and teaching and have a clear sense of their user rights and obligations under the Copyright Act, while at the same time ensuring that copyright-holders’ rights to grant permission and receive compensation are appropriately respected.

See Also: From Access Copyright’s Official Statement

Thousands of Canadian creators and publishers learned today that despite efforts to negotiate new and reasonable rates, the University of Toronto and Western University will not renew their current licences with Access Copyright.

We are extremely disappointed,” said Roanie Levy, Executive Director of Access Copyright. “Access Copyright’s licence has enabled faculty to create efficient resource packages in both paper and digital form that are tailored to both their needs and those of their students. Millions of pages are shared in

this way every year. Roughly 80% of the content copied comes from books. It is unlikely that access to these titles is licensed by the universities through library or institutional subscriptions.”
Instead of paying royalties to creators and publishers it is expected that these institutions will now rely on fair dealing guidelines, which are untested by law and closely replicate the scope of coverage in the Access Copyright licence. These policies represent a self-interested interpretation of what some in the education sector would like the law to be. Clearly fair dealing requires clarification. Renewing licences is difficult without fair dealing guidelines that work for everybody – educators, students, creators and publishers.
About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.