It goes without saying that 2020 was a challenging year for everyone, with 2021 looking like more of the same - the Higher Education sector being no exception. Back in March 2020, Universities and academic libraries closed for the first time and quickly moved to online teaching; students were sent home and all teaching and administrative staff began working remotely. It was a huge undertaking.
We’re committed to keeping an open dialogue with our stakeholders and even before the first lockdown, we met with the UUK/Guild HE Copyright Negotiation and Advisory Committee (CNAC) who made a couple of requests: to increase access to digitised extracts in the DCS by removing the requirement to own an original copy, and to increase the copying extent limit from 10% or one chapter. As the weeks went on, we consulted rightsholders about the options available and what we could do to provide more support to universities in these unprecedented times. In a process that would usually take six months, we received positive feedback and strong support for a licence extension from CLA member organisations (PLS, ALCS, DACS and PICSEL), major scholarly and academic publishers and publisher trade associations. This meant that before the Easter break, we were able to come up with a consensus on the extent limits and various terms which were implemented from April to June 2020.
Temporary Licence Extension 1: April – June 2020
Following consultation with rightsholders, we were able to add a temporary extension to our Higher Education Licence to remove the requirement for an institution to own an original, and increase the copy extent limit to 30% or three chapters from publishers works who had opted in. There were a few rules on the use of the extension, including that it only applied to printed books published by participating publishers, either the institution or the academic must own an original, it applied only where no digital edition is available for commercial channels and the copies had to be made through the DCS or Talis. We were able to quickly onboard any institution that wanted to use the DCS temporarily, so that as many HEIs as possible could make use of the licence extension.
What happened next?
The temporary licence extensions were well received by librarians and administrative staff who were under intense pressure to support full online learning at incredibly short notice. On top of this, academics were able to copy more and recommend wider reading to their students who were learning remotely. The integration with technology platforms including DCS was also praised for the support it provided to HEIs.
However, the requirement that a digital edition was unavailable through commercial channels proved a little challenging. Although this requirement is already in place for US works copied under our main licence, we had to quickly develop and evolve our FAQs to provide greater clarity for users.
At the end of the extension period in June 2020, all HEIs complied with the requirement to take down content, which helped provide reassurance to our rightsholders.
Following this extension period, things went back to normal for a bit, however the world did not go back to normal and the COVID-19 pandemic continued…
Further Extension to July 2021
Following the summer extension, Vice-Chancellors of more than 15 HEIs, the Chair of the Russell Group and CNAC wrote to CLA requesting a further extension in order to allow institutions to provide students with increased access to learning resources during the ongoing pandemic.
Following further consultation with rightsholders, who were also feeling the impact of the pandemic due to the effect on their commercial activities, on 21 August 2020 we announced a further temporary increased extent limit to 20% or two chapters, whichever is the greater, for the full academic year until 31 July 2021. The same terms and conditions apply including the requirement to check whether a digital edition is available.
More than 190 book publishers have now opted-in to the licence extension, including Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Elsevier, John Wiley and Sons, Pearson UK, SAGE, SpringerNature, Taylor & Francis and Bloomsbury.
What we learned
We learned a fair amount from the whole process of extending the Higher Education licence. We learnt that we were able to act quickly to assess user needs and gain rightsholder consensus in the early days of lockdown. It was clear that our education licences were already ready for online distance learning: they were technology-neutral and they permitted all the required digital uses. The only challenges came from ownership and extents, but luckily most publishers were keen to opt into these gratis extensions and provide assistance to HEIs during such a difficult time. We also had a ready-made platform for HEIs in the DCS that allowed us to monitor additional usage in a way that would reassure rightsholders. The DCS also gave HEIs access to copies of content when originals were inaccessible due to lockdown.
However, we did come across some challenges throughout this process. Developing an emergency extension for a short period during the summer led to increased expectations from licensees, and implementing the further extension was not easy as it required extensive discussions with rightsholders to reach an agreement.
The wider market issues around eBook pricing and access became more relevant to the CLA Licence because of the requirement for licensees to check whether a digital edition was available. This proved challenging when you consider the wide range of eBook platforms and retailers out there, and it required further evolution of FAQs to reach a compromise on what was meant by ‘commercially available’.
And finally, despite over 190 publishers participating, due to the huge range of material that is copied in universities there was demonstrable demand for a wider range of content that was not opted-in, including US works.
New year, new lockdown
Now we’re back to where we were in March, with most Higher Education teaching and learning back online during a third national lockdown. The temporary HE Licence extension is still in place for HEIs to make the most of until the end of this academic year.
We continue to support HEIs through the DCS, Second Extract Permissions and EHESS, and want to say a huge thank you to our rightsholders who helped facilitate the extension(s) during the ongoing pandemic.
For more information about the Temporary HE Licence Extension, please visit: cla.co.uk/HE-licence-terms-amended-covid19
About the Author
James is responsible for managing the development of new and existing CLA licences for the education, business and government sectors, as part of CLA’s mission to make copyright simple for users and copyright owners. His day-to-day work includes consulting with publishers, customers and partners in the UK and overseas, exploring opportunities for innovative licensing and technology solutions, and promoting CLA and its licensing activities to a wide range of stakeholders. Before joining CLA, James enjoyed a fifteen-year career working for a number of successful trade publishers, commissioning and writing non-fiction books and subscription products. He holds an MBA from Henley Business School.