Previous by Date Index by Date
Threaded Index
Next by Date

Previous by Thread Next by Thread

Alumni Access-A Memo

[MOD. NOTE:  the question about alumni had me dust off a memo I wrote last
fall about this topic in regard to a particular license at Yale (signed as
part of a consortial arrangement).  The memo was written for a meeting
about serving alumni and included a variety of university players.  Making
a decision on this matter was not a goal of the meeting, which was an
informational one.  If you don't want to read it all, the bottom line is
that I concluded that giving alumni access to licensed full text databases
was premature for us at this time, for various reasons.  There are various
educational and security and economic issues we first need to address, and
as our own students and faculty are our first priority, they keep us
plenty busy. So we have yet not systematically addressed the alumni matter
-- yet. The names of the producer and product are deleted.  **Please note
that although the memo speaks of 190 e-databases at Yale, there are, by
latest count, over 360. We are getting better at counting them, and we are
adding about two licensed products per week as of 1997.** Ann Okerson]


A CASE STUDY for the Content Meeting on Tuesday, 19 November
Library Electronic Information and Delivery to Yale Alumni


Electronic delivery (through stand-alone CDs, networked CDs via LAN, and
via campus --or wider-- computer networks) is a relatively new mode by
which the Yale Library makes information avaialble for campus users. While
some of the computer-networked resources are (still), practically-
speaking, as good as in the public domain (that is, one can use them
without any restrictions whatsoever), the majority are licensed.  A
license is the legal contract through which the copyright owner sets terms
and conditions for users, without transferring any ownership rights. 
The licenses are of several sorts:

1.  Copyright/Fair use, where the licensor has stated that the electronic
resource may be used under the conditions of the Copyright Act of the US. 
This type of "license" is not common and not without its problems. 

2.  Shrinkwrap or click mode, where, by opening a cello wrapper or hitting
a "continue" button, the user may have (depending on how the courts
resolve pending cases) agreed to abide by the terms an information
provider has specified.  This kind of "pre-fab" one-size-fits-all license
is very common for individually purchased CDs and applies to some internet

3.  Negotiated legal documents.  Such licenses are the products of (at
times long) negotiations between the University Library or an umbrella
library consortium.  The provider, who believes he runs a risk of losing
control of the information and tries to restrict its use, comes to terms
with the user (as represented by the Library) mounting an argument for the
broadest possible use.  Negotiations, while generally successful, can
involve a great deal of education of both parties.  Consensus and
compromise are the order of the day.  In general, a great deal of good
will and trust result from a successful conclusion of such a negotition.

The Yale Library currently records some 190 electronic resources.  Some
are small (a CD, say) and others are substantial (Britannica Online or all
170+ journals of Academic Press in full text mode from 1996 on).  In its
negotiations, it has been the practice of of the Yale Library to secure
the widest possible use of electronic resources. 

The current situation:

Late this summer the Yale Library successfully signed a contract with XXX
publisher.  This publisher offers a collection of online journals. 
full-text, fully searchable, online via remote server..  The incentives
offered by the publisher were exceedingly attractive in various ways.

The license negotiations essentially gave the Library a great deal of what
we needed, with two important exceptions (Interlibrary Loan and pricing). 
In particular, the user and use provisions are excellent. 

Success in living up to the terms of such licenses depends on a great deal
of trust: In this case, Yale trusts XXX to live up to a large number of
develoment promises, nearly around-the-clock-access, partnered usage
analysis, and so on.  The provider, in turn, trusts us to abide by the
terms of the license, which specifically exclude any commercial access or
commercial research use and application, and asks us to monitor our use
and work with them to stop infringement, should it occur. We could,
nonetheless, be vulnerable to the stupid or greedy actions of any one user
who delivers articles online to, say, a pharmaceutial company or re-sells
(without our knowing it) from his/her site.

The Yale commitment to all our other vendors is that if they agree to the
license we need, we will keep our part of the bargain, because Yale
operates in a copyright and license-respectful mode.  We will do
everything we can do inform and educate our users about how these
resources are appropriately read, downloaded, printed, and so on.  It's a
tall order but we are successful in meeting it. 

As an lagniappe to the license, XXX gave our group and ours alone a user
benefit that is extended to few:  permission to make the journals
available to alumni under the same conditions as our own campus users.  We
have routinely asked for alumni use in our contract negotations but often
it is the first item on the table to be dropped.  I undertand that the
language in this particular 3-year license to be a controlled experiment,
to see whether the provider's exposure will increase if they allow
universities this heretofore extraordinary kind of use. 

The Issues:

1. Access to the e-journals:

	A.  The validated means of access is the IP domain (
	At this time, even if we wanted to, we could not provide access
	to the alumni, who are entering via other modes.  IT is building
	a password system that will enable a user to enter Yale and
	then move out to other computers as if they were at Yale.
	This service is up to a year away, but presumably it will come.
	B.  According to AYA staff, there are up to 40,000 alumni
	with Internet connections.  The number is growing.  Who will
	validate those users?  Who will maintain these files?

	C.  Access is not to a Yale service but to a remote server
	At the strong wish of both the provider and of Yale
	Library staff, we have agreed to explore usage stats (but
	without violating individual privacy) in order that both 
	parties may learn what is most frequently read and how.
	The technology put in place by both parties would need to
	differentiate between the alumni use and the yale
	teaching/learning/research uses.

	D.  Our Yale use (and not alumni needs) ought to drive
	any negotiations and prices paid for ejournals in the future.
	Our first and best service must be to our own users.

2.  Support for the e-journals:

	A.  The Library is not staffed to support up to 40,000
	outside users for this (or probably any other resource) in
	a serious way.  Users would be left to their own devices
	to figure out how these journals work online, how they
	integrate to other resources, etc.

	B.  It might be possible to conduct workshops or online
	tutuorials; this matter would require development and

3.  Economic support for the e-journals.

	A.  The license does not allow us to re-sell the information
	at all.  An alumni access charge is not appropriate under
	the terms of this license.  The University might want to wrap
	access to electronic services into a general e-fee which might
	permit access to restricted products that nonetheless have
	negotiated alumni in.  This charge might pay for alumni support?

4.  Copyright and License matters.

	A.  The terms of use are defined by a detailed license in
	an explicit way.  Other related and parallel guidance is
	contained in the Copyright Act of the US.  Yale personnel
	including General Counsel, Librarians, and a number of others
	understand and can guide users, policies, and language on
	campuse.  It is much more difficult, at this time, to extend
	knowledge and understanding of the contract and the law to
	up to 40,000 users.  We would have to work on how to achive
	this goal.

	B.  The risk for Yale is that infringement (beyond a reasonable,
	addressable level) will cause us and our other partners (a
	number of institutions) a loss of access to this information.

	C.  Another risk is that the University will be sued
	if any really serious infringement (that cannot be contained
	and causes economic harm to the producer) occurs.

	D.  As part of a consortium, each member is vulnerable to the
	infringements of our partners.  That risk is slight if the
	violation is within a partner institution (because it can be
	stopped and temporary measures or local measures are likely to
	suffice). However, if all the alumni of all the institutions 
	have access to XXX, and if those numbers are, conservatively,
	400,000 users (far more than users on our campuses!), the
	risks to Yale are greatly increased.

5.  Longevity of of the ejournals.

	A.  XXX, like many other online information services, is 
	an early experiment.  We may raise expectations for services
	that the Library or University choose not to continue.  The	
	alumni should not have a strong voice, if any, in the best
	decisions for the University's users, unless we want to re-define
	whom we support and serve, in a dramatic way.

The situation reminds me of the story of the fisherman and the three
wishes offered by the magic fish.  In the case above, the first wish was
to secure access for our users and many other institutions to important
e-journals. In 1996, all of us have barely begun using e-resources, but we
believe ours will prove to have been a worthy wish.  The second wish was
the widest possible access. We got our alumni into the license, but I am
far from sure of how to implement that wish.  Should our third wish be to
drop the alumni from the language? The Library would be happy to provide
alumni services for restricted, licensed materials where the contract
permits.  However, there are a number of matters to be resolved to make
this kind of access a reality. 

In conclusion, I should add that some of the costs and benefits change
where the electronic resource is one served up by Yale on Yale equipment,
through Yale communications lines.  In such cases, the challenges are no
less but some of the specifics change. 

Ann Okerson
Associate University Librarian/Collections
Yale University
© 1996, 1997 Yale University Library
Please read our Disclaimer
E-mail us with feedback