Students and professors across the state surprised by a recent federal court decision that stopped a national copy center chain from reproducing "professor packets" may be looking toward Utah State University as a model to avoid future legal copyright quagmires.

USU is one of a handful of universities across the nation participating in a pilot program, Experimental License for Universities Agreement, with Copyright Clearance Center, based in Salem, Mass.Agreements with the not-for-profit corporation allows USU professors to have anthologies printed without fear of copyright infringement. All copyrights are obtained by the clearance center or university before the packet is printed in an on-campus copy center.

The system may help avoid the difficulities that followed the March 28 decision by U.S. Judge Constance Baker Motley that barred Kinko's Graphic Corporation from reproducing textbooks and other readings after eight textbook publishers filed suit in April 1989 to rescind the "fair use" clause of the 1976 Copyright Act.

After the decision, some Utah college students were unable to obtain required readings. For example, at USU students found themselves without textbooks or 25 different packets of required readings from professors who had them reproduced at Kinko's.

Richard Schockmel, head of acquisitions/collection department in the Merrill Library, said the reason some professors are still having problems with the new copyright law is because they disregarded a memorandum sent in early January informing all professors of the new program.

Anticipating problems with the duplication of copyright materials for educational purposes, Schockmel said he began looking into the possibilities for obtaining permission to reprint copyright articles. He said his main concern at that time was in acquiring the increasing number of available materials for the library on a shrinking budget, but in speaking with administrators, he anticipated a need throughout the university.

"The Copyright Clearance Center pilot project with the universities recognized the problem universities were facing in using material that is copyrighted," Schockmel said. "This university is committed to act in compliance and good faith with copyright."

USU has a two-year contract with the clearance center which began Jan. 1. It is paying a general $25,000 fee to cover the costs of interlibrary loan, copyrights to material printed by about 35 publishers, acquisition of permission from other non-member publishers and data collection. Glenn Wilde, Merrill Library Learning Resources Program director, said the cost is being covered by USU Extension, campus printing, library, the office of the vice president for research, and the State Board of Regents.

"None of the funding is coming out of student fees," Wilde said. "We are attempting instead to save students' money."

For over 10 years, the clearance center has served a similar function of obtaining copyrights for commercial businesses, Schockmel said. Data collected from the six universities in the pilot program will determine its next move.

Under the agreement, USU must plan no price increase for duplication services; faculty and students are covered by the agreements if they use USU copy centers; and the agreement is extended to the transmission and duplication of copyrights materials from academic and research libraries in the Utah System of Higher Education.

The University Bookstore, printing services and library are all cooperating to make the program work for students and faculty.

David Hansen, assistant manager of the USU Bookstore, said another aspect of the program is the "textbook guarantee." The bookstore photocopies the required reading assignments, until a late book arrives, at no charge to the student. The student must commit to buy the textbook when it comes in, and return the photocopies when the book is purchased. He also said the anthologies will be sold directly in the bookstore with other texts.

"The traditional textbook is due to expire," Hansen said. "There is massive amounts of data available and faculty is drawing on that. If they adopt a single book, it might narrow their perspective. So more faculty are turning to anthologies. This is just too costly for the students."

University bookstores are also considering expanding an electronic ordering system to become a copyright clearance center. More than 50 percent of textbook publishers are in this database, and it is growing rapidly as it comes on line, said Mark Frisby, merchandise manager of USU bookstore, who recently attended a National Association of College Stores convention.

Private copy businesses may also benefit from similar arrangements as the university. For example, Kinkos has paid a fee to 150 publishers for copyright privileges for their textbooks, a Kinko's spokesman in Logan said.