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Re: Unresponsive information providers

This question keeps coming up. If the information providers concerned are
publishers, there is a very good reason. They are having real problems
thinking through the right sort of policies and getting the right sort of
staff to implement them. This is a problem even for the big corporations
but think of the smaller publishers, especially learned society
publishers, who just do not have the resources and who do not have all the
advice to go to that librarians have. They worry a lot.

Publishers also go to lawyers to write contracts for them but how do they
decide on an ad hoc basis which clauses can be changed and which other
clauses can be accepted? The question about when you should go to a lawyer
exercises them as well and of course they are also concerned not just
about legal action against them (which actually should be a small concern)
but about whether any amendments will lead to their not making any money
out of the deal.

The people handling the licenses have to be a new breed who understand
licenses like rights and permissions folk but who are also able to sell.
Selling people have not traditionally worked with licenses. There are not
many of this new breed. You only have to compare the very articulate and
expert people who appear on platforms on behalf of IDEAL (who really have
worked through the questions which come up and have some years of
experience) which the sort of worried individual you may get at the end of
the phone

A librarian might reasonably wonder why it is taking publishers so long to
get their act together but the move from experimental mode to actively
operational mode is quite recent. Many of these companies have only just
started to get to grips with electronic publishing.  Think also the time
which consortial negotiations takes up - as librarians know very well. But
they are sitting on their home turf or nearby. Many publishers are coming
from other parts of the world. These people are not at home dealing with
the enquiries that come in, when they are needed by MIT, but they are out
in the field.

Obviously publishers should be able to handle this. It is in everyone's
interest. Let us hope that the use of model licenses such as those devised
by John Cox will become normal. This should give everyone a framework
within which the individual questions can be asked and answered more

Anthony Watkinson
14, Park Street, Bladon, Woodstock,
Oxon, England OX20 1RW
phone +44 1993 811561 and fax 01993 810067
----- Original Message -----

From: Ellen Finnie Duranceau <efinnie@MIT.EDU>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2000 12:28 AM
Subject: Unresponsive information providers

> I am wondering if I am alone in having great difficulties recently getting
> information providers to respond to licensing questions, keep a
> negotiation moving, and complete the process in a timely manner.  For
> virtually all of our major purchases in this fiscal year, I have had to
> make innumerable phone calls and send innumerable email messages over
> weeks and months trying to get responses to our issues and an executable
> contract. These phone calls follow explicit written documentation of our
> concerns and questions, so that there is a clear paper trail to pick up
> and put down. Despite this paper trail and many calls, in most of these
> cases I have still not succeeded in concluding a license agreement.
> Is anyone else having this experience? Do information providers have some
> insight to share about this lack of responsiveness? Do librarians have
> ideas about how to get these deals negotiated and completed in a timely
> manner?
> This problem did not surface for me here at MIT until this year. In
> previous years, using similar methods, I was able to get deals closed
> readily.
> Any comments, confirmations, or alternative experiences would be most
> welcome! Ellen Duranceau
> **********
> Ellen Finnie Duranceau
> Digital Resources Acquisitions Librarian
> MIT Libraries, Room 14E-210A
> Cambridge, MA  02139-4307
> efinnie@mit.edu
> ph. 617 253 7562
> fax 617 253 2464