Given the legal reforms and the increasing comfort with operating outside of Access Copyright, why did AUCC settle? I have no inside information, but my guess would focus on three factors. First, AUCC has never appeared comfortable with the copyright file. For years, its members paid millions to Access Copyright without giving it much thought. It was only after the collective sought a massive increase that it captured the attention of senior officials at Canadian universities, who began to question the value of the licence. AUCC, led on this issue by a former publisher association executive, has always seen copyright as a cost, not a cause. Once Toronto and Western struck deals with Access Copyright, the broad framework was established and an AUCC deal for a model for its remaining members was likely only a matter of time.
Second, a prolonged fight at the Copyright Board (and perhaps later at the Federal Court) is very expensive. Unlike the $26 per student tariff that will be borne by students in their tuition fees, the regulatory and litigation costs are more difficult to pass along directly to students. By striking a deal now, AUCC saves millions in fees, though students will ultimately bear the costs of its settlement.
Third, the short term advantage may have rested with AUCC, but there were some serious longer term risks. While many experts question the Access Copyright repertoire and the value of its licence, the Copyright Board has increasingly fashioned itself as a guardian of the collective. The Board's decision to issue an interim tariff without any reasoning hours before most people were heading into a holiday week was an embarrassment (the claims of urgency were proven wrong) and left little doubt that the Board was prepared to do almost anything to assist Access Copyright. The subsequent decisions, which included warnings about the difficulty of opting-out of Access Copyright, further entrenched the view that a hearing before the Board would not end well for AUCC, no matter the law nor the limited value of the Access Copyright repertoire.
This is further to my story from February, Canadian universities sign bone-stupid copyright deal with collecting society: emailing a link is the same as making a photocopy, faculty email to be surveilled .
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.