Universities will not receive indemnity if they infringe the copyrights of authors who have excluded themselves from the Copyright Licensing Agency's licence scheme.
At the final hearing of the Copyright Tribunal called by Universities UK to settle the dispute over the next version of the licence, the tribunal ruled against UUK's call for wider indemnity. The costs of the case, believed to run to £2 million, have not been settled.
Sol Picciotto, professor of law at Lancaster University and a member of the UUK negotiating team, said: "As long as the publishers play ball, universities have got the licence they wanted." But he added that UUK was still worried about the scope of the licence.
UUK called for a tribunal last year when it could not agree the terms of a new licence with the CLA, due to take effect on August 1 2001. In December the tribunal ruled that a £4.00 per full-time student fee should cover all copying in universities.