The costs of compliance

The backplot here is simple: I was, uncharacteristically, in a law-abiding mood and looking into what it would take for me to get a non-profit Access Copyright license to help with some of my teaching. I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to worry about my handouts, and wouldn’t it be nicer if I could save my students a couple of bucks and make coursepacks rather than forcing them to buy big, heavy, useless texts that cost too much? Charitably, I went to the Access Copyright website and looked around. My hackles stayed down. I didn’t get angry or start to throw things (though I did find much of their verbiage annoying). And then I saw this:

The licence fee for the non-profit/association photocopying licence is based on your organization’s annual operating budget, making it easy and affordable to meet your legal obligations under the Copyright Act.

Ummm.. yeah. Sliding-scale fees based on your total budget. And what percentage might that be, exactly? No way, Jose. You tell me how much you want, at a minimum, and then I’ll tell you how much money I have to play with.