KINKO’s : Ethics Responsibility and copyrights terms

(Conversation over the phone between two colleagues)
Voice 1: My plane didn’t get in till 10:00
Voice 2: That late? What about our presentation…
We made changes after you left …
Voice 1: Jim faxed them to me.
Voice 2: Where?
Voice 1: At our branch office… I made the changes there.
Voice 2: Twenty copies?
Voice 1: All collated, spiral bound….
Voice 2: Color charts?
Voice 1: Done.
Voice 2: Great! (Hesitantly) We don’t have a branch office …
Voice 1: Sure we do.
Anner: Kinko’s … Your Branch Office. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Over 600 locations. For the Kinko’s near you, call 1-800-743-COPY.

Across the street from virtually every major college and university in the United States there is a Kinko’s copy center. Twenty-four a day, people can be found at a Kinko’s, pasting up and copying documents for their academic personal and professional purposes. Imagine a typical scene: In one corner, a community leader sits at a Macintosh, putting together a newsletter for a local charity organization. In another part of the room stand a handful of students, gathered around several copy machines. A few are copying notes, stapling the different sets. Another is cutting out pictures from magazines and pasting them onto a collage. Over near the cash register, a business person waits for Kinko’s worker to finish reducing a 10 page document that will then be faxed to someone waiting in the Kinko’s office in Japan. This is what Kinko’s is about: meeting the demands of the information age by providing a full range of services for a diverse array of customers, from students to professionals.

The Kinko’s copy centers we know today as “Branch offices” capable of performing any business demand began primarily as a service for students and professor.

Ever since Paul Orfalea, nicknamed “Kinko” for his frizzy hair, opened the first Kinko’s (an official trademark of Kinko’s Graphics Corporation) in 1970 in Santa Barbara, California the copy shop has exhibited a strong customer focus. Orfalea strategically located the first shop near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara to bring service to the students and faculty, instead of waiting for them to come to him. The shop’s physical layout continues to serve the customer with easy access provided to the desktop publishing paste up and copying facilities. Kinko’s now numbers somewhere around 650, with locations in all 50 states as well as Canada and London. All Kinko’s copy shops are owned by a few closely held corporations, with Orfalea having a hand in all of them. Because control and consistency are essential to the Kinko’s philosophy, Kinko’s is not franchised.

Kinko’s mission lies in serving the customer from the point a document is created until the point it is completed. What this means has changed over the years, and continues to change, but it basically translates into offering both self serve and full serve desktop publishing and copying; free access to supplies such as staplers, tape, paper cutters, rubber cement, and glue; stationary supplies for sale, and faxing capabilities.

By the mid-1980s, Kinko’s realized it could expand its business and serve its customers better by working more closely with the faculty at neighboring colleges and universities. Noticing that professors are often unsatisfied with the single textbooks available and, therefore, may create syllabi that incorporates chapters from any number of books, Kinko’s saw a role it could play in working with professors top create custom-made packets for students.

Kinko’s identified a market that was not currently being served, and offered a publishing service that enabled professors to put together tailor made anthologies for their students. The professors could request that selected excerpts from books be copied and included in specially bound volumes that could then be sold to students as course “packets”. In keeping with the theme of bringing the business to the customer, Kinko’s actually solicited reading lists from faculty members at local colleges and universities at the beginning of each semester so the anthologies could be complied. This provided a cost effective and efficient alternative to the previous standard procedures – students’ buying all of the individual books, or professors placing desired books on reserve in the library so students could check them out and copy the pertinent sections:

The Kinko’s practice called into question the issue of copyright. Most, if not all, of all sources for these anthologies were already published works. This meant that they were copyrighted, and could be copied legally without the permission of the publisher. Obtaining permission took time, however, which Kinko’s did not always have; professors often worked up until the very last minute, creating and revising their syllabi. Still, it was the practice and the responsibility of Kinko’s to obtain the necessary copyright permissions and pay any necessary royalty fees, passing the cost along in the price of the bound volume.

A copyright is something of value to the owner, just as is a title to land, even though the copyright protects, intellectual property as opposed to “real” property. However, because a copyright is tied to intellectual intangible matter, it is more difficult to protect. Of particular concern are out of print works. Owners of the copyrights on such works rely exclusively on the royalties for financial returns on their investment.

As it turned out, mot all Kinko’s stores were attentive in obtaining the necessary copyright permission. Indeed in 1989, eight publishing companies – Basic Books, Harper &Row, John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, Penguin Books, Prentice Hall, Richard D Irwin and William Morrow & Co – discovered that copyright permission had not been obtained for the material in some of the volumes sold by at least two Kinko’s stores in New York, and they joined together in a suit against Kinko’s for copyright infringement. If these were the only two instances where copyright permission had not obtained, it might not have been a concern; however, the size of the Market that Kinko’s serving –thousands of students at hundreds of colleges and universities around the country suggested that these were not isolated incidents. Thus the issue was extremely significant.