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Re: Negotiate or sign? (Was: "Confused")

Publishers worried about the new territory sought to protect themselves
from the unknown.  Unfortunately, all librarians are now either teaching a
licensing workshop, taking one, feeling guilty for not obsessing about
licensing, feeling superior to others and spending hours individually and
with others fighting for the right.  I do some of each.  I look forward to
the day when we treat digital content licenses the same way we treat the
licenses that are attached to pillows and mattresses.  


On Thu, 18 May 2000, Carolyn Helmetsie wrote:

> I am very pleased to see this discussion on library license.  As a
> librarian working for a large federal government agency, I have long been
> concerned about the value of licensing for electronic products.  As most
> of you already know, the federal government has many rules and regulations
> governing this subject.
> The question everyone should by asking themselves is: What value is added
> to a license agreement by the librarians, lawyers, review committees et
> al, all which must spend many hours of precious time reviewing and making
> sure the i's are dotted and the t's crossed?  Since we are a government
> agency and a license is considered a contract, it must be reviewed.  
> However, what value are we adding to these licenses?  Are we getting
> better service?  Are the taxpayers being served by all the time spent on
> this process?  What is the actual purpose of this review anyway?  How many
> licenses have been challenged in court?  What are we really getting for
> all this review?  Yes, please don't argue that we don't have to review
> licenses, of course we do! However, isn't there an easier way?
> My library has a long history of managing, monitoring and writing
> contracts.  I was a contracting officer; currently monitoring the library
> contract, and have experience writing contracts.  Contracts are written to
> protect the interest of all parties.  Contracts are only effective if all
> parties clearly understand up front what their responsibilities are for
> performance.  In the case of electronic licenses, are all parties
> performing according to the contract?  What was the original intention of
> the license/contract?  Was it to protect the publishers interests or
> rather was it to protect their profits?  Since publishers are in business
> to make money, I do not begrudge them their profits.  If the purpose of
> the contract was to protect publisher profits, does the current license
> process achieve that?
> My customers want access to information electronically.  They do not care
> about licenses or all the time needed to negotiate them.  They do not
> understand the months spent negotiating a multi library license and all
> the details that are needed to satisfy everyone requirements.  They just
> want access to the information.
> There is a better way - the total elimination of the need to have a
> license agreement for access to electronic information.  For those
> libraries that are purchasing information from the publisher or consortia
> that require special consideration, a contract is a must.  However, for
> most libraries who are purchasing access only with no special
> consideration, is a license agreement necessary?  Why should purchasing
> electronic information be any different than purchasing a printed copy?
> Since most publishers aren't that far along in this thinking, the generic
> license strategy is a good one.  Our library plans to actively pursue the
> streamlining of licenses by working with a vendor to have them act for us
> in the negotiations.  Using the FEDLINK (Federal Library and Information
> Network) model license agreement, we plan to have a generic license that
> the publisher must agree too.  This will not be easy.  There will be
> plenty of resistance by all parties, however we cannot continue down this
> path any longer.  We do not have the staff or resources to spend months
> negotiating when ultimately we are adding little value to the agreement
> and our customers demand for more titles increases.
> Our library has been working on consortia purchasing.  We have succeeded
> in a major purchase for five libraries with a large publisher, but it was
> very difficult.  One aspect that made it easier was the publisher's
> willingness to greatly modify their contract and satisfy the needs of each
> library. This was absolutely necessary.  Recently, a person who use to
> work for a very large publisher told me that most publishers put licenses
> in a file and never look at them again!  Does this make any sense to
> anyone?
> If publishers and libraries really want to have workable contracts, then
> both parties need to take responsibility to understand them and gain
> mutually from the agreement.  If this is not the case, then licenses are
> not worth the paper they are written on.
> The opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of
> my agency.
> *****************************************************************************
> Carolyn L. Helmetsie			Library & Media Services Branch
> Library Team Leader   		Office of Chief Information Officer 
> NASA-Langley Research Center      telephone: 757-864-2378
> Technical Library-MS 185		fax: 757-864-4575
> 2 West Durand Street			
> Hampton, VA  23681-2199		email: c.l.helmetsie@larc.nasa.gov
> ****************************************************************************