-- apologies for cross-posting --

In today's copyright weekly email, I'm sharing truths about licensing electronic content. These truths are tips to help librarians and organizations better negotiate their license agreements for the use of digital content such as databases, periodicals, journals, images and more. You can directly receive my copyright emails each Monday by clicking here .

Three Truths About Licensing Electronic Content

Librarians and other non lawyers who deal with license agreements have much to consider when discussing and negotiating those license agreements. Here are three facts to help you out.

Almost all licenses are negotiable. Some click-through and online digital licenses do not allow room for negotiating terms that fit your needs, but most other licenses are negotiable and it is best to approach them with that in mind. It's often up to you to let the other side know that you will be negotiating the terms and conditions offered to you to meet your needs — don't assume the vendor, publisher or content owner is going to ask, “What terms would you like to negotiate?” When a license for a new database or electronic periodical lands in your email inbox or on your desk, look at the wording of its terms and conditions with a critical eye. Does the license work for you? How would you change it? Always remember to only accept a license and arrangement that works for you in your particular circumstances.

Licenses benefit both licensors and licensees. Throughout the licensing process, both parties should keep in mind that the license should be a “win-win” situation. Although at times it may seem like each party has opposite interests, you're both aiming toward the same goal: fair access at a fair fee. For a library or organization, “fair” may mean use according to its needs. For a publisher or other information provider, “fair” may mean controlled access for authorized uses. For both parties, “fair” also relates to the fee being paid for the content.

All licenses are not the same. Although model or standard licenses may seem like the answer to avoid costly and time-draining negotiations, you must always look at your particular situation and find an arrangement that suits your needs. There are some model licenses that you can use as education tools and even as checklists to ensure that your licenses address important and relevant issues. Just remember, each situation is unique.

I'm currently writing the 3rd edition of my book, Licensing Digital Content, A Practical Guide for Librarians (ALA Editions), a plain language resource demystifying the process of digital licensing for librarians.

I'd love to hear from you ...I'm interested in your feedback to help me make the third edition of Licensing Digital Content as helpful for you as possible. Please get in touch and share with me:

* Your concerns about licensing digital content
* Licensing pricing models
* Anecdotes and stories about your licensing experiences
* Topics you'd like to see in the new edition of the book
* Any questions that you have that I should address in my book

Thanking you in advance for your feedback ... I'll be reading it all with great interest!


Lesley Ellen Harris