Transformation Update: Developing Access Copyright’s Future Offerings

Thursday, October 22, 2015

One of the most important challenges now facing creators and publishers, and Access Copyright, centres around the shift from print to digital and the growing expectation that digital material be both “free” and “free-flowing” between devices and platforms.

Despite the growth of the “free content” movement, our research has found that many customers remain willing to pay for quality material that is reliably and conveniently available. Access Copyright’s challenge, therefore, is to make the use of paid or licensed content significantly more convenient than relying on free. To achieve this, paid content must be just as easily (if not more easily) discoverable, accessible and reusable as free material.

Copyright is often viewed as an obstacle to the development and widespread adoption of online services that deliver experiences around content. And solutions to date have tended to downloaded copyright liability to users, or encouraged users to adopt open content as a way to avoid the copyright issue.

We believe copyright clearance tools and services that integrate seamlessly with digital services will encourage the use of professionally produced content. Today we are working to integrate copyright clearance and content access tools with digital platforms in order to bring content directly to educators, students and researchers on the platforms they already use.   

What might that look like in practice?  Here’s a practical illustration:   

Professor Smith at the University of Alberta directs her students to read chapter four Studying Politics: An Introduction to Political Science published by O’Donnell Education, chapter seven from the Power & Choice: An introduction to Political Science published by McDougall Ryerson and chapter three from Democratizing the Constitution: Reforming Responsible Government published by Duncan Publications. 

She provides her students access to these chapters by searching and selecting the relevant chapters through an Access Copyright search tool. The content is then provided to her students through the university’s Learning Management System (LMS). Content that requires additional clearance and payment are automatically priced. As she searches for various titles, the search tool also recommends a couple of other titles that are often used along with these titles by other political science professors. The selected chapters are then packaged in an e-reader that allows her to annotate the readings with her “professor’s notes”. Students can access and purchase their readings directly through the LMS.

Access Copyright’s Role:Access Copyright developed a federated search service that allows instructors to discover and select content stored on multiple databases. Once the content is selected, the Access Copyright service automatically verifies the content’s copyright status. (Is it licensed by the university for this kind of use, or does Professor Smith need additional permission?) If the content needs to be cleared before being used, the Access Copyright service automatically clears and prices the chapters. Once the readings are purchased by the students, Access Copyright collects payment for the content and distributes the royalties back to the rights holders. The Access Copyright service is integrated with the university’s LMS so the entire process can be done through the university’s website.