Universities should pay six times more for their copyright licences than they do, according to the Copyright Licensing Authority.
In response to accusations of overcharging from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, the CLA said that the fee of £3.25 per student is "a small fraction of the true economic value of the copying undertaken by higher education institutions".
The problem centres on the updated Higher Education Copying Accord (Heca) agreed in 1998 between the CVCP and the CLA.
The CVCP appealed to the Copyright Tribunal in July, claiming the licence fee was unreasonable. It said universities should pay the same as secondary schools, which would result in a 55p fee per student. It also complained about the CLA's introduction of a separate licence to cover embedded artistic works.
In its response, the CLA said that taking into account its latest copying surveys, the licence fee should be Pounds 13.36 per student. But it added that if a "root-and-branch review" of the fee was carried out as requested by the CVCP, the fee would be in the region of £22. It dismissed the comparison with schools as "incorrect" and based on misquoted figures.
The CLA claimed it wrote to the CVCP twice last summer offering "a licence to copy all artistic works embedded within text at no additional cost and to copy separate illustrations for a small uplift to the basic fee" but had received no response.
Peter Shepherd, CLA chief executive, said: "We remain open to realistic negotiations. The holders of the rights want to work harmoniously with the CVCP. But they don't want to underestimate the true economic value."
Alan Story, lecturer in intellectual property at Kent Law School and spokesman for the Copyright in Higher Education Workgroup, said:"The CLA certainly has shown chutzpah. If we don't like their rules, they'll make a 600 per cent increase."
He accused the CLA of abusing its monopoly, saying the two parties are further apart than ever.
A spokeswoman for the CVCP said: "Before the tribunal considers the matter, there will be a period of discussion and arbitration between the parties."
The Heca runs until January 2001. The licence fee is calculated by multiplying the number of photocopies by the price per copy, less a fair dealing discount.