Succeeding (Not Just Coping)
On the positive side, both individual libraries and consortia of libraries have reported negotiating electronic content licenses with a number of publishers who
have been particularly understanding of research library needs. In general, academic publishers are proving to be willing to give and take on license language and terms, provided that the licensees know what terms are important to them. In many cases, librarians ask that the publisher reinstate the "public good" clauses of the Copyright Act into the electronic content license, allowing fair use copying or downloading, interlibrary loan, and archiving for the institutional licensee and its customers. Consortial negotiations are having a highly positive impact on the usefulness and quality of licenses.
While several downsides to the rapidly growing licensing environment have been mentioned, the greatest difficulty at this point is caused by the proliferation of licenses that land on the desks of librarians, university counsel, and purchasing officers. The answers to this workload conundrum might lie in several directions.
1. National or association support. National organizations such as ARL and the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) are doing a great deal to educate as many people as possible about licensing. Practicing librarians treasure that support and ask that licensing continue to be part of strategic and funding plans. For example, the Yale Library has proposed next-step ideas for the World Wide Web Liblicense project. Under discussion are such possibilities as: further development of a prototype licensing software that will enable librarians to create licenses on the fly, via the World Wide Web, for presentation to producers and vendors as a negotiating position; and assembling a working group meeting that involves publisher representatives in order to explore how many pieces of an academic electronic content are amenable to standardization. Clearly, academic libraries are working with the same producers to license the same core of products over and over again. It might be valuable for the ARL and other organizations to hire a negotiator to develop acceptable language for certain key producers-say the top 100-with the result that individual libraries would not need to work out this language numerous times. Pricing and technology issues, among others, might nonetheless need to remain as items for local negotiation.
2. Aggregators. As libraries, vendors, and producers become more skilled as aggregators, the scaling issues will abate somewhat. Three aggregating directions are emerging:
• Information bundlers, such as Lexis-Nexis, OCLC, UMI, IAC, OVID, and a number of others offer large collections of materials to libraries under license. Some of these are sizeable take-it-or-leave-it groupings; others allow libraries to choose subsets or groups of titles.
• Subscription agents are beginning to develop gateways to electronic resources and to offer to manage libraries' licensing needs.
• Consortia of libraries can be considered as aggregators of library customers for publishers.
3. Transactional licensing. This paper treats only institutional licenses, be they site licenses, simultaneous user/port licenses, or single-user types. An increasing number of library transactions demand rights clearance for a piece at a time (situations that involve, say, course reserves or provision of articles that are not held in the library through a document supplier such as CARL). Mechanisms for easy or automatic rights clearance are of surpassing importance, and various entities are applying considerable energies to them. The academic library community has been skittish about embracing the services of rights management or licensing organizations, arguing that participation would abrogate fair use rights. It seems important, particularly in light of recent court decisions, that libraries pay close attention to their position vis-àvis individual copies (when they are covered by fair use and when they are not, particularly in the electronic environment) and take the lead in crafting appropriate and fair arrangements to simplify the payment of fees in circumstances when such fees are necessary.