Author-Rights Language in Library Content Licenses Ellen Duranceau, Scholarly Publishing and Licensing Consultant, MIT Libraries, and Ivy Anderson, Director of Collections, California Digital Library Introduction and Background T he idea of including author-rights language in content licenses has recently been gaining ground, particularly in light of the contracts negotiated by the Max Planck Society and the University of California (UC) with the scientific publisher Springer.1 These attempts to leverage content licenses to secure author rights reflect the fact that it is unrealistic to expect the rights environment to change solely through individual authors’ contract discussions with publishers. Faculty promotion and tenure processes depend on publishing in particular journals, and authors therefore often do not feel empowered to push back on standard publisher policies nor is debating points of copyright a natural fit for many authors. Anecdotal reports as well as surveys2 confirm that authors do not routinely negotiate the terms of their publisher copyright agreements and do not retain copies of them. For the most part, this means that universities and research funders face significant barriers to storing and sharing copies of research output that they have either paid to develop and/or whose dissemination is essential to their missions. At a gathering hosted by ARL in January 2009, a small group of experts from ARL member libraries and National Library of Medicine staff discussed how to RLI 263 33 APRIL 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC Note: The varied arrangements regarding authors’ rights to their manuscripts result in limitations on sharing information across repositories. An emerging strategy for addressing author-rights language is to incorporate it into publisher contracts for licensing content. In this article, representatives from MIT Libraries and the California Digital Library provide background on the utility of this approach and describe their recent experiences in negotiating their Springer contracts. —Julia Blixrud, Assistant Executive Director, Scholarly Communication, ARL
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