Beyond the license?
As we have seen, the content license comes into play when the producer of an electronic resource seeks to define a "deal" and an income stream to support the creation and distribution of the content. Yet other kinds of arrangements are possible.
1. Unrestricted and for free. Some important resources are funded up front by, for example, governments or institutions, and the resources are available to all end users. Examples include the notable Los Alamos High Energy Physics Preprints; the various large genome databases; the recent announcement by the National Institutes of Health of MEDLNE's availability on-line; and numerous university-based electronic scholarly journals or databases. The number of such important resources is growing, though they may always be in the minority of scholarly resources. Characteristically, such information is widely accessible, the restrictions on use are minimal or nonexistent, and license negotiations are largely irrelevant or very straightforward.
Both of these trends are important; they bear watching and deserve to be nurtured. In the first case, the up-front funding model seems to very well serve the needs of large scientific or academic communities without directly charging users or institutions; the databases are products of public- or university-funded re-
search. In the second instance, although users are paying for access to the databases, the gap between the copyright and licensed way of doing business seems to have narrowed, and in fact the HighWire publications are treated as if copyrightgoverned. Over time, it would not be unreasonable to expect this kind of merger of the two constructs (copyright and contract) and to benefit from the subsequent simplification that the merger would bring.
In short, much is still to be learned in the content licensing environment, but much has been learned already. We are in a period of experimentation and exploration. All the players have real fears about the security of their livelihood and mission; all are vulnerable to the risks of information in new technologies; many are learning to work together pragmatically toward at least midterm modest solutions and are, in turn, using those modest solutions as stepping-stones into the future.