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The Decline of Collective Copyright Licensing in Canada's Post-Secondaries Explained Using the Theory of Fields

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Fligstein's and MacAdam's Theory of Fields was used to analyze how Access Copyright lost its incumbent advantage in the traditionally stable field of copyright administration in Canadian post-secondaries and why that field is still unsettled today. Theory of Fields considers actions rather than motives and explains how a field moves into crisis using the concepts of: strategic action fields composed of incumbents (Access Copyright) and challengers (post-secondaries); external shocks to a field (e.g. court rulings); the social skill of the actors, particularly how an inability to envision alternatives leads to prolonged disruption. A field enters a crisis when the challenger(s) or incumbent act in ways which causes others to attempt to disrupt the status quo. Through interviews with copyright professionals and administrators actively involved at the beginning of the period of contention (2010-2012), analysis of institutional communications and records, and analysis of judicial and tribunal decisions, I used the Theory of Fields to analyze the actions of groups in the field of post-secondary copyright management and in proximate fields such as government and the courts. This approach moves us away from hyperbole and the "us against them" paradigm with its oversimplifications of "Access Copyright got too greedy" and "universities are trying to rip off creators". The presentation, using the Theory of Fields, will demonstrate how the actions of Access Copyright and of organizations like AUCC (now Universities Canada) led post-secondaries to challenge the status quo and how a series of actions/reactions, along with a lack of skilled social action by both incumbents and challengers, naturally brought us to the current period of contention in copyright management in the post-secondary environment.
Conference presentation from ABC Copyright Conference, Saskatoon SK, May 2019.
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