More than a decade after the landmark case in which eight publishers sued Kinko's for violating the 1976 Copyright Law with its coursepacks, the copying giant announced that it will resume coursepack publishing. The 1991 settlement, in which Kinko's paid publishers $1,875,000, prohibited Kinko's from supplying coursepacks for 10 years.
"Because of that case, Kinko's is very serious about doing this right," John Paketz, director of product management for Kinko's, told PW. The Dallas-based company, with 1,200 locations, will partner with University Custom Publishing, a division of the University of Southern California, which has cleared more than 325,000 pieces of copyrighted material in the past nine years. Because of the way Kinko's is now structured—all stores are company owned—and its relationship with UCP, Paketz is confident that Kinko's will be able to meet its legal obligations and comply with copyright.
Starting October 1, Kinko's plans to provide two types of services—Kinko's CoursePacks Direct, where schools obtain copyright permission and Kinko's handles printing and delivery; and what Paketz refers to as its "flagship" option, Kinko's CoursePacks Complete. UCP will take care of copyright permissions and formatting material for schools that sign up for the Complete option; Kinko's will create custom covers and handle printing and delivery. In order for schools to qualify for the Direct option, Kinko's will review their systems and okay them as a copyright clearance provider. It also plans to do spot checks to ensure compliance.
Several universities are currently participating in pilots for Kinko's new services, including Rice and the School of Business at Washington University St. Louis. "The pilot program is as much as anything to test our operational processes," explained Paketz. In order to maintain compliance, Kinko's plans to add clients gradually. "We want good customers. We don't want people who play games with copyright," notes Dan Archer, director of business development for UCP.
While it may seem peculiar to hear Paketz express concern about "an unfair playing field," where chop shops undercut competitors by not paying copyright fees, Kinko's seems determined to do the right thing this time around. "That's why we brought UCP into this," said Paketz. The Copyright Clearance Center is optimistic about Kinko's re-entry under the new terms. "We expect they will be diligent in following established law by obtaining permissions and paying required fees," said Bob Weiner, the center's v-p of licensing. "If Kinko's does have its act together, it could have a very beneficial effect," added Allan Adler, v-p for legal and government affairs at the Association of American Publishers. The AAP will be talking with Kinko's about its coursepack plans.