Why is this so complicated?
The way knowledge circulates in the education world is complicated — and here is only a simplified version of reality! This comic represents the traditional model of disseminating knowledge in post-secondary institutions. We chose to focus on McGill as an example of a Quebec university, but all Canadian universities operate within the same paradigm.
What’s Copibec? It seems to be at the center of this…
Copibec (like its Canadian equivalent Access Copyright) is an organization that sells educational institutions the right to make paper copies of copyrighted works — books, journal articles, news reports — in exchange for a variety of fees. Quebec universities band together and sign a single agreement with Copibec instead of concluding agreements with individual authors and publishers. Copibec, in principle, redistributes the millions of dollars it receives every year to authors and publishers. In reality, there are serious problems with this model: see for yourself.
How can we work within the traditional model while exploring alternatives to it?
1. Reduce costs. Traditionally, professors give students course materials in coursepack form (rather than as individual handouts, web links, etc). Under the Copibec agreement, this can get expensive. Learn why, and learn how to avoid excessive costs.
2. Use alternative distribution methods. Publishers were great when the Internet wasn’t around. Today, better options exist. Universities around the world have created an exciting alternative that allows free access to a wealth of scholarly literature: open access repositories.
3. Understand and take advantage of copyright exceptions. Copyright is not a total prohibition against using copyrighted materials. People, especially in educational institutions, benefit from copyright exceptions. Copyright exceptions give certain people the right to use copyrighted materials for free. These are your rights: understand them.