IFRRO supports IRRO in its efforts to provide affordable legal access to copyright educational content (Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013)
Copyright assures the supply of quality educational material worldwide
The world needs well educated graduates and, for that, university students need to be able to access good quality educational material quickly, easily, legally and in a way that does not inhibit the supply. All over the globe Reproduction Rights Organisations (RROs), such as IRRO in India, help assuring both the access to this material, for instance when students do not need to make use of the whole book or journal, and its ongoing supply by enabling authors to continue to produce it and publishers to continue to disseminate it.
RROs and collective rights administration contribute to seamless access to copyright works
Educational material is accessed in two ways – the sales of the original text book (primary sales) and the copying of parts either by the student or by the teacher frequently in the form of course packs (secondary use). Legal access to this form of secondary use is handled by RROs in nearly 80 countries, including in many developing countries, and is a vital element in ensuring that universities and other educational institutions get the quantity and quality of the material that they need.
No-one wants to block students’ access to copyright works. Quite the contrary! To facilitate legal access to both Indian and non-Indian learning and other intellectual resources in a way that benefits both students, educational institutions, creators and publishers, the authors and publishers have set up IRRO. IRRO offers pre-authorization to access certain frequent forms of students’ uses of copyright works through a “one-stop shop”.
Copyright is a fundamental human right that provides authors with a living and enables them to create new works
A recent study of access to educational material in the UK, by consultants PwC, found that authors and publishers depend heavily of income from secondary uses for their continued production and publication of text books. The survey showed that some 25% of authors derive more than 60% of their income from secondary uses of their works. A loss of 20% of that income for authors would mean a diminution of 29% in their output, or the equivalent of 2,870 works per year. For publishers, the secondary income represents an average of 12% of earnings, which equates to around 19% of their investment in new works. This represents a significant proportion of the funds publishers use to invest in content development and the development of new digital learning resources.
It is difficult to see that anyone would benefit from initiatives that would jeopardize such strong incentives to create and disseminate new scientific and literary works. Rather the modest fee asked to be paid under the license with IRRO, described by some as the equivalent of 2 cups of tea per student per course pack, could have a tremendous positive impact on the development of new Indian based learning resources and other copyright works. This would bring invaluable benefits to Indian students and educational institutions and to the Indian society at large.
Strengthening copyright and collective management benefits knowledge and culture and helps create economic growth
The Indian creative sectors and publishing industry has the potential of being among the strongest in the world. The strengthening of copyright and collective management helps create wealth, employment and economic growth; the weakening of it has potentially the opposite effect. Studies have shown positive correlations between the strength of the copyright sector and, for instance, innovation, competitiveness, economic freedom, freedom from corruption and GDP per capita1.
Referring to the foremost international legal expertise IFRRO2 also disputes that, for instance, course packs can legally be made at universities under India’s international legal obligations. Other mechanisms to provide easy legal access are required. Licensing agreements with RROs such as IRRO meet dynamic and changing user needs in a way that exceptions and limitations cannot do.
A society that values cultural diversity and knowledge also values its creators.
There is a balance of interests between right of rightholders and user demands and between CMOs and the institutions that they license. Broad copyright exceptions for educational uses, which do not recognise the need to reward authors and publishers, will result in fewer academic works published by fewer academic publishers. Neither universities nor their students will benefit in the long run from the evaporation of their sources of learning. Rather it is important to consider how to facilitate legitimate legal access to copyright works, including through collective rights management and the national RRO. In this vein we strongly urge that the universities quickly come to an agreement with IRRO for the use of copyright material that can be covered by the licenses they offer.
Brussels 20 March 2013
2 IFRRO is the main international network of RROs, authors’ and publishers’ in the text and image sector, with 140 member organisations that represents millions of authors and publishers in nearly 80 countries worldwide.