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Copyright battle over university texts

11:05 Fri Mar 8 2013

Copyright action is pending against New Zealand universities after they refused to increase the amount they pay to publish works in course packs.

Copyright Licensing New Zealand (CLNZ) says the fee of $20 per student paid by universities to publish chapters and articles in course packs, saving them from having to buy full textbooks, is not enough.

CLNZ wants the fee to increase for the first time since 2007 to $26, saying there has been an increase in the average number of pages copied but universities weren't prepared to pay an extra $6 per student.

CLNZ chief executive Paula Browning says many universities have increased student fees by the maximum amount allowable, and then charge students for each course pack.

"Fees charged per pack are significant - up to $85 in some cases. At the same time the universities are paying just $20 per student per year to compensate authors and publishers whose works are included in the course packs."

Proceeds of the licensing scheme are paid to the authors and publishers whose works are published in the course books.

CLNZ has gone to the Copyright Tribunal seeking a four-year deal which would increase the deal to $26 per student and then increasing by the rate of inflation every year after.

It has offered the universities the option of rolling over the existing licence while the case is before the tribunal.

Universities New Zealand said CLNZ had referred the case to the Copyright Tribunal without consultation.

"The universities are considering their response to this action and do not wish to comment further," a spokeswoman said in a statement.