RLI 280 11 SEPTEMBER 2012 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC E-Book Licensing and Research Libraries—Negotiating Principles and Price in an Emerging Market Charles B. Lowry, ARL Executive Director Julia C. Blixrud, ARL Assistant Executive Director, Scholarly Communication Background A RL actively began a licensing effort in the fall of 2010. Members of the Association had expressed interest that ARL find ways to positively influence the scholarly content marketplace emerging e-book markets were identified as the area in which to begin, but with the proviso that success would lead to similar efforts for other content. ARL especially wanted to ensure that the emerging market and access structures developed for e-books would serve the needs and support the values of the research and academic library community. Members of the Association did not want to repeat the license restrictions found in e-journal agreements that they are now trying to renegotiate. While price matters, especially as budgets continue to be constrained, another primary driver for ARL’s e-book activities was the need to identify specific principles that would be especially important to research libraries in the acquisition of electronic resources, determine the content that could first be acquired using those principles, and develop a strategy through which the work could be accomplished. Some ARL libraries have developed advocacy and values statements about e-books—see the accompanying sidebar at the end of this article. E-book task forces and consultants recommended and the ARL Board agreed that a project to license e-books from university presses be given the highest priority.1 The market was relatively new and ARL members are often closely aligned with university presses at their institutions. University presses were beginning to develop models for individual and aggregated e-book strategies. A collective ARL effort would provide a way to shape the licensing terms, business models, and technical platforms that would be mutually beneficial to libraries and to presses. Since ARL did not want to provide new infrastructure to negotiate member license agreements, a critical piece of the project included the identification of an agent to conduct that work on behalf of interested members. More importantly, ARL developed a set of evaluation requirements that included technical specifications and licensing rights required by research libraries.2 The agent was required to use these “Detailed Evaluation Requirements and Desirables” (a.k.a. “ARL E-Book Requirements”) when negotiating the e-book content licenses.3 In order to determine the rights terms and provisions ARL members might require for e-book content, existing licensing principles and documents were examined. Since there were no general principles for e-book licensing available when the project began, some principles were drawn from best practices in license packages for e-journals. Consultants and task force members supplied language for other principles based on local licenses or developed language through consensus. Legal expertise was sought for some principles. When referencing copyright, both the US and Canadian acts are referenced since ARL membership is located in both countries. There was a general recognition throughout negotiations that some requirements would be attenuated by technology limits of vendor platforms. ARL sought accommodation to meet these in initial contracts, while pressing for technical modifications that would allow closer conformity to the principles it sought to advance.
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