Universities refuse to pay extra copyright licence fees
Universities are being taken to the Copyright Tribunal because they refuse to pay more than $20 a student in annual licence fees to photocopy authors' work.
Copyright Licensing New Zealand (CLNZ) has filed a disputes case against Universities NZ, which represents all eight universities, because it refuses to pay an extra $6 a student to retain its licence.
It is the first case of its kind to be dealt with by the tribunal, which is an independent disputes forum.
A copyright licence is required to produce materials such as the course packs that students buy containing photocopied chapters and articles, to save them buying textbooks.
A Universities NZ spokeswoman said CLNZ had chosen, without consultation, to refer its demands to the tribunal.
But CLNZ chief executive Paula Browning said the organisation was forced to take action after a year of failed negotiations to increase the $20 fee agreed in 2007.
"Despite increases in the average number of pages being copied per student and the ability the licence gives universities to provide copies electronically to students, the universities aren't prepared to agree to the modest $6 increase in the annual fee sought, which hasn't been adjusted in over five years."
Many universities had been increasing student fees by the maximum allowable a year, and expected them to buy multiple course materials, sometimes at a cost of up to $85 each, she said.
"At the same time, the universities are paying just $20 per student per year to compensate authors and publishers whose works are included in the course packs."
The universities' copyright licence expired on December 31, but has been extended by CLNZ until the case is settled.