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Re: E-resource licensing and virtual reference

The provision of assistance is one thing, and the provision of documents
is another.

I have been willing to provide a user who contacts me by phone with a few
results from a licensed database, or possibly the conclusion from a more
extensive factual search, but I would not email an extensive bibliography
from a licensed source unless the license permitted it.

The provision of items from a journal to an outside user is interlibrary
loan, and subject to both the basic copyright restrictions and the

In judging ambigous situations, the basic principles of fair use are the
guide; perhaps they are one of the exceptional times that the (US) law
corresponds with common sense: purpose nature of the work amount effect on
the market.

One could certainly justify the provision of a single article under these
guidelines, if from a printed source. If from an electronic source, it is
necessary to honor the license wether or not we like it. Most of the
licenses I've seen restrict direct electronic transmittal of electronic
content. However, like you, I am not sure that the transmission of
text-only by email from an aggregator's collection is substantial enough
to count. I would not send pdfs even from such a collection unless I were
sure the contract permitted it.

My personal view and I am not a lawyer;  considering the work I do, maybe
I should have become one.

On Sun, 29 Sep 2002, Sloan, Bernie wrote:

> I've given presentations at two conferences within the past week
> (International Coalition of Library Consortia, and Illinois Library
> Association) where a main topic of discussion involved the use of licensed
> e-resources to serve a user from another library, during a virtual
> reference session. Generally, the discussion involved collaborative
> virtual reference projects (i.e., where two or more libraries band
> together to provide virtual reference services to their collective group
> of users).
> Basically, the scenario is this: you are working the virtual reference
> desk, and a user connects from an institution other than your own. Can you
> use your licensed e-resources to help this user? For example, can you
> search a full text journal article database and e-mail articles to this
> user? Can you help the user by providing them with information from a
> licensed database?
> The consensus was that this should be no different than serving a walk-in
> patron who asks for help at the physical reference desk. With most vendor
> licenses, it is OK for a walk-in user to make use of licensed e-resources.
> But when it comes to providing virtual service (e.g., via a virtual
> reference service) the licensing terms and conditions are less clear.
> What do you all think? I am especially interested to hear what e-resource
> vendors think about this.
> Bernie Sloan
> Senior Library Information Systems Consultant
> University of Illinois Office for Planning and Budgeting
> 338 Henry Administration Building
> 506 S. Wright Street
> Urbana, IL  61801
> Phone: (217) 333-4895
> Fax:   (217) 265-0454
> E-mail: bernies@uillinois.edu