address the barriers to sharing content between repositories.3 Developing
standard author-rights language that libraries could use in negotiating content
licenses emerged from the discussions as a significant action item. The group
felt that this would be an important step to reduce the barriers created by the
fragmented landscape of author-rights arrangements that can result from
leaving all negotiation up to individual authors. This approach also
complements strategies to develop institutionally based policies like the one
recently adopted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) faculty.4
Including author-rights language in university-wide site licenses for content
can remove the burden from individual authors, and clarify and simplify the
rights environment, making research as openly accessible as technology now
allows in order to speed science and exchange of ideas.
Library content license negotiations offer a pre-existing tool to serve this
purpose. While individual author agreements can amount to thousands of
individual transactions each year at a single
institution, library-publisher agreements are
annual or multi-year arrangements with a
broader compass, covering many journals
in a single transaction. These library content
licenses describe policies for use of content
by a given institution’s users, making it a
logical extension to expand these licenses to
cover author and university rights to the work included in content that is
authored at that institution. This method balances all three legs of the scholarly
publishing stool—authors, universities, and publishers—in a single agreement,
addressing one of the discontinuities of the existing scholarly publishing system,
in which universities buy back content released by their authors in separate
transactions with the same publishers. Simply put, there is both elegance and
economy in linking access to a publisher’s electronic journals with rights for the
authors who have supplied articles contained in those journals.
As a practical matter, author-rights language could be negotiated as a
separate agreement. But this option undermines both the efficiency to be gained
by a combined negotiation and the leverage inherent in the desire to finalize the
license agreement, a document that is already negotiated between the university
and the publisher and which is of vital importance to both parties since key
journal access hangs in the balance.
RLI 263 34
Author-Rights Language in Library Content Licenses
(
C O N T I N U E D
)
APRIL 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
…library content licenses describe policies for use of
content by a given institution’s users, making it a logical
extension to expand these licenses to cover author and
university rights to the work included in content that is
authored at that institution.
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