Licensing library resources
In the print world, when an individual or library acquires a copy of a work, copyright law sets out the rights to use it. When we acquire our works electronically, however, a contract sets out our rights. There can be significant differences in these two methods of acquiring resources.
These are examples of what the copyright holder, an owner and a user can each do with a book under copyright law:
If a book owner or borrower wants to use the book in other ways, he or she must get permission. This scheme represents a careful balance between the rights of the copyright owner and the owner of a copy of the book.
Certain parts of this scheme have changed in the digital environment. The changes seem to favor copyright owners and create more liabilities and fewer and less generous rights for users.
- Lending is out: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act implements the idea that the right to lend should not apply to digital works - say goodbye to the entire underpinning of our U.S. library system insofar as we're all becoming digital libraries...
- Fair use, particularly for making exact copies, is shrinking: Several court cases suggest that whenever copyright owners can make it easier to ask for permission and pay fees, the scope of fair use in their works shrinks.
It is not hard to see the writing on the wall: If the academic community wants to browse, download, print out, forward, and quote from digital works, we must secure those rights at the same time we acquire digital access. Those who negotiate the software and database licenses that will one day replace analog acquisition, are determining today the rights we will have tomorrow. Our rights are going to be in the contract, not in the law, so we had better have a look at those contracts. Those contracts are our copyright frontier.
The documents Copyright in the library: Licensing access, Developing a comprehensive copyright policy and Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources (ARL) will help you to better understand these issues.
For sample contracts, see model standard licenses for use by publishers, librarians and subscription agents for electronic resources.
The subjects in this series include:
Fair Use (Section 107)
- Reserving works for limited use, generally
- Print copies in the reserve room
- Reserve rooms for images, audio and audiovisual works
- Providing access to electronic copies
- Library copying for patrons and for the library's collection
Library reproduction and distribution (Section 108)
- Patron requests
- Unsupervised copying, news programs and contractual
limitations on acquisitions
- Interlibrary loan
- Scholarly communication
- The digital library
- Licensing access
- Is your library an Internet service provider under the DMCA?