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Negotiate or sign? (Was: "Confused")

Eleanor Cook sends the following message to liblicense-l
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 21:00:26 -0500 (EST)
From: ELEANOR COOK <COOKEI@conrad.appstate.edu>
Subject: Negotiate or sign? Was: 'Confused'
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu

There seem to be two extreme camps these days on licenses:
  1. Sign the damn thing: no one is going to sue you
  2. Agonize over all clauses and get it right, even if it takes a year

Where I am, we've done it both ways. We are currently coming out of a fog
from camp #2. How we benefitted from doing the agonizing is that our
attorney's office now feels much more confident, having done the research,
having talked to other universities in our state system and also having
talked to the State Attorney General's office. If you sign licenses
without knowing what you're doing, you're asking for trouble.  You should
not allow companies to put conditions in licenses that you cannot
realistically meet under any circumstances. I am sure there are libraries
out there who would sign licenses saying they would whistle Dixie in the
nude every other Friday; i.e., not having read the license, they have
agreed to ridiculous conditions. Don't do that - would you do that if you
were going to buy a house or a car? - well, don't answer that, I am sure
there are plenty of people out there who have signed their lives away with
banks and mortgage companies too.

The point is, it's the taxpayers money or the shareholders' or whoever you
work for. It's your responsibility to represent your institution as best
you can. Also, we have determined that serials and acquisitions and
collection development librarians should not be signing any of these
licenses - the director or a higher officer in the institution should be
signee. We do the leg work, they do the signing - they get paid the big
bucks for that liability, not us.  They trust us to research the license
with legal counsel first.

We *must* continue to work with publishers and vendors to SIMPLIFY these
licenses as much as possible. A number of publishers have done so and I
encourage the others to follow.

Eleanor Cook
Eleanor I. Cook                                  828-262-2786 (wrk)    
Interim Coordinator, Materials Processing        828-262-2773 (fax)  
& Serials Specialist               
Belk Library, PO Box 32026                                         
Appalachian State University                             
Boone, NC 28608-2026                             cookei@appstate.edu  

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 18:16:55 -0400 (EDT)
From: M Ros Doig <M.R.Doig@derby.ac.uk>
Subject: 'Confused'

Chuck Hamaker writes:-
"It's unenforceable, so why waste time "negotiating". Just sign the thing
and get the access There are too many of these things out there to waste
time or breath or energy. The individual signing may be unaware of state
law, or may believe the license is unenforceable. And under the rubric of
service to patrons is just getting access without the hassle of

Oh how I symapathise! My present predicament in an ongoing negotiation for
a relatively low cost service (see my previous appeals to this list). Is
it a question of where ignorance is bliss (on the part of the supplier
that is) or the legal niceties of signing what you know you can't enforce
but what seems to be required but doesn't meet your definition of
responsibility and what's reasonable.

Had the monetary decisions been mine I would have said no long ago but
since a lecturer requires the service for a course he runs I have been
instructed to pursue this. I'm sure there will come a point soon where the
cost of my time will equal the cost of the service in question.

Problem is now that I am involved in lengthy negotiations, if I just sign
the license , no doubt the company in question would wonder what was going
on. On the other hand since I sign the licenses I feel it's important to
sign a license I can agree to.

John Cox in a message to me said:-
"Rule no 1: don't sign anything you do not understand or cannot accept.  
You are quite right to argue with them."

Sound advice but would it have been easier all round if I had signed and
awaited the consequences (if any!!)? What would you do Chuck??

Ros Doig
Serials and Interlending Librarian
University of Derby
Kedleston Rd
Derby DE22 1GB

Tel.    01332 622222 Ext.1204
Fax.    01332 622767
Email.  M.R.Doig@Derby.ac.uk