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One licence, one payment for the digital age

Is it just me or is copyright licensing silly? We operate 10 licences, excluding software, in my college - which heaven forbid should bear any resemblance to Ordinary College.

Few of those licensers have successfully tackled the digital issues that the academic world would like resolved. No doubt, with time, forests of correspondence and a healthy budget, I could clear the rights for Mrs Bland but the funds don't exist.

Now my turn to be silly: why can't the Copyright Licensing Agency, Newspaper Licensing Agency and Design and Artists Copyright Society produce a simple, easily administered licence to allow the copying, in various formats, of text?

Such an alliance might include British Standards and Ordnance Survey while the three music licensers could work under a single licence. The Educational Recording Agency, which has always kept up with technologicl change, could happily stay the same, as far as I am concerned.

I believe that the world of academe is just that - facilitators and recipients of teaching and learning, carrying out the Government's vision of lifelong learning, using the technology to achieve learning objectives.

It's not a den of piracy and counterfeiting.

We respect copyright; many of us are authors and creators in our own right.

But we don't want our efforts to facilitate learning to be mired in a welter of licences which proliferate rules and regulations with each issue.

Nor do we want to be furtively lurking around photocopiers, computers and scanners, frightened of our own shadows, fearful of infringing a right that has probably been paid for over and over already.

Dare I even suggest that we might pay more to have many of the unnecessary shackles removed?

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