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Re: licensing and lawyers

Many of my best friends are lawyers (as they say) and I hesitate also to
upset librarians like Trisha Davis, whose work I greatly admire but who
always argues for recourse to lawyers. Nevertheless as another
ex-publisher I do wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Edelson. I would qualify
slightly by advising that a librarian confronted with unfamiliar clausing
should also consider making contact with an attorney.

Librarians may not appreciate that publishers have the same dilemma. They
not only have to deal with contracts inspired by ICOLC and such bodies but
also the tortuous ones produced by the range of intermediaries they now
contract with. Some publishers play safe and pay out a lot of money. In
the past some were inhibited by fear of legal problems from putting their
products online. Some hardly ever go near a lawyer and work everything out
themselves. It is not a matter of size. One of the largest
mega-corporations takes the view of Dr. Edelson. Their corporate lawyers
ask the question - are we likely to be sued?

I know contractual clauses always have to be taken very seriously but many
of them are in fact gestures. Publishers want libraries to take some
responsibility for the actions of their users (to take one thread which
comes up from time to time) but they know very well that librarians can
only do so much. Publishers have to warrant that all copyright in all
their publications have been properly cleared but most of them have only
very recently got their act together in this department. Thank goodness
for the term "reasonable endeavours" which most of us can live with and
aren't indemnities frightening - all the capital letters?

Anthony Watkinson

----- Original Message -----
From: Dr. Alan M. Edelson <amedelson@topnet.net>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2000 12:41 AM
Subject: RE: licensing and lawyers

> It sounds from the brief description given of Temple University's
> settlement of a lawsuit that this involved multiple uses of proprietary
> computer software in the university's computers, something that is all too
> often done by university staff and students, as well as in corporate
> offices. It does not sound as if the suit was related to the infringement
> of a clause in a signed licensing agreement from a publisher. I suspect
> that this newspaper article was probably not relevant to the question of
> whether libraries need to have lawyers review all licensing agreements,
> which, frankly, strikes me as utterly impractical. I would suggest that a
> lawyer prepare a set of general guidelines to librarians at an institution
> and leave it at that.
> Alan M. Edelson, Ph.D.