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Triple Licenses (was Double Licenses)

Bernie:  no one picked up on your thread either the first or second time
you introduced it, so I'd like to make a limited start by asking you
a clarifying question in return.

How is the OCLC/State Library/end-user "triple license" any different
from the following types of common situations:

o Publishers of thousands of newspapers/newssources/magazines each license
their content to an aggregator such as CIS, for Lexis-Nexis or Academic
Universe.  CIS licenses this product to SOLINET. SOLINET licenses to a
number of consortia, each of whose member institutions has indicated that
they will abide by the terms of the SOLINET/CIS deal.  That's one license
upon another, to four levels!  What happens here when there is a failure?
Depends on which level sustains the failure.  The higher the level (say
the original provider pulls content out of CIS-AU), the more possibility
of impact on the downstream licenses, right?

o How about this one:  authors license publishers who in turn license
third party providers.  Another triple license.  What happens when there
is a failure?  Downstream consequences (think of UnCover and the current
litigation by the NWU) can be significant, in this case in apparently a
more acrimonious mode than was caused by simple loss of content.

Now, my point is:  the world is full of contractual arrangements piled on
top of other contractual arrangements.  Generally, if the first party
contracts appropriately with the second (i.e., first party has right to
enter into the contract), the second with the third, etc., then things
work out fine.  Everyone is protected and needs worry only about their own
relationship, not the upstream or downstream one(s).  

So, if the world is full of such stacked up contractual relationships,
when do we and do we not worry about them; how do we reduce our risks of
getting into problematic contractual situations in such a layered world,
and if I'm an OCLC end user, why would I care about any more than my layer
of the onion (to mix many metaphors).  

And, to our lawyers on this list, tell us about the law and cases that
concern multiple licensing layers!

Ann Okerson


On Thu, 28 Jan 1999, Sloan, Bernie wrote:

> Someone may have answered this directly or indirectly, and if so, I missed
> it. A while ago I cited the existence of "triple licenses". The specific
> example I gave involved FirstSearch databases in Illinois that are
> subsidized by the Illinois State Library. In brief, the State Library
> contracts with FirstSearch to provide access to specific databases
> for all Illinois libaries. That's one license. Then, when the "end-user"
> connects with FirstSearch, they are told that if they conduct a search
> they are agreeing to the terms and conditions of both OCLC and the
> specific database vendor. Those would be the second and third licenses.
> My question is this: if there are discrepancies among the terms of the
> various licenses, what is the order of precedence? I've been assuming
> that the contract between the State Library and OCLC/FirstSearch
> comes first.
> Bernie Sloan
> Senior Library Information Systems Consultant
> University of Illinois Office for Planning & Budgeting
> 338 Henry Administration Building
> 506 S. Wright Street
> Urbana, IL  61801
> Phone: (217) 333-4895  
> Fax: (217) 333-6355
> Email: bernies@uillinois.edu