Both sides in copyright tribunal expecting victory

September 28, 2001

As the tribunal hearing to decide the future of the copyright agreement between universities and publishers closed last week, both sides were confident of a win.

Universities UK brought the case, calling for course packs to be covered by the blanket copyright licence paid for photocopying rights and for a smaller licence fee per full-time student.

Sol Picciotto, professor of law at Lancaster University and a member of the UUK negotiating team, said: "Their lawyers were clutching at straws. " But Peter Shepherd, chief executive of the Copyright Licensing Agency, said: "We felt that we had to defend ourselves against a reduction from the fee of £3.25 to 60p and the inclusion of course packs. An increase is more justified than a reduction."

The CLA said that as the current licence was agreed with UUK in 1998, it must be reasonable. It also argued that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the system used to gain copying rights for course packs and that publishers would quit the scheme if the blanket deal included course packs. UUK said publishers could not pull out because they would be bound by a tribunal decision.

A ruling is expected before Christmas.

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