FAQ-Frequently Asked Questions in Preparation for E- License Negotiations

  1. General licensing information:

    1. Negotiating Networked Information Contracts and Licenses

    2. Licensing Division in the Copyright Office

    3. LibLicense Home, Definitions of Words and Phrases Commonly Found in Licensing Agreements

    4. The Survey of Library Database Licensing Practices:

    5. Principles of Licensing Electronic Resources

    6. Sample License Agreement

    7. Software and Database License Agreement Checklist

  2. Introduction - Points to consider
    (Examples from LibLicense at Yale and other sites)

    1. Who is the customer for the contract – librarian, purchasing agent, legal counsel?

    2. What does the contract cover? – time period, access, users, lending, etc

    3. Price and payment schedule

    4. Who can sign the contract

    5. Standard licensing agreement

    6. Licensing software

Parts of a contract

  1. Authorized users

  2. Copyright and document delivery rights

Archival rights

  1. Perpetual access through the publisher’s web server.

  2. Access to content from a defined period with a rolling back file and a separately licensed archive.

  3. Print copies of purchased content – Some publishers may offer a print copy with a subscription to the electronic journal or as an add-on purchase. However, the increasingly interactive content of electronic journals (linking, videos, audio clips, etc.) will not be included in the print copy, so the content of the formats are not entirely equivalent. Libraries and publishers continue to view the print copy as the format to be archived (one reason for this is that the image resolution in the print medium is frequently much superior to that of the electronic format.)

  4. Data files (CD-ROMS, DVDs, tapes and “locally loaded journal content”) – Set-up, maintenance and back-up of these may involve additional staffing and equipment costs to make this content secure and available to patrons. If the data supplied is not tagged, it may not be searchable, diminishing the utility of the archive to patrons. Also, these formats are susceptible to corruption, and rapidly-changing technologies may render the format obsolete in time, necessitating migration of the data to other formats. In anticipation of future format changes, some contracts specify only that content will be made available in a mutually acceptable media type.

  5. LOCKSS – “free, open source digital preservation software from Stanford University that preserves digital content in a library-to-library network.” Publishers provide the content and allow LOCKSS servers to store and share content with authorized subscribers (as determined by individual license agreements).

    • Advocates feel that storing content on a library’s local servers provides greater security for digital content, especially since the data would be stored on the servers of many different libraries.

    • Information is archived as a bitstream and preserved in the original publisher format wherever possible.

    • According to Karen Schneider, “Fidelity to the original format means future generations should see content as we meant to present it – down to fonts, page widths, and relationships to other articles on the page – not filtered through several digital reinterpretations of what we originally intended.”

    See LOCKSS Publisher and Title list for participating publishers and journal titles.

    See also:

    Once the publisher has authorized the LOCKSS to collect and preserve the journal content, participating libraries can archive their own copy of subscribed content and share access with their patrons. It uses a web crawler to verify publisher permission and collects the same format the publisher delivers via HTTP.

    • It runs on standard desktop hardware and requires very little skilled administration.

    • A format migration process can convert data to a current format if browsers no longer support the format in which the copy was collected.

    • LOCKSS acts as a web proxy so content can be retrieved transparently at the original URL; bookmarks and searches continue to work .

    • Digital archives are subject to damage by hacking, so the content must be protected. Archived content on LOCKSS is periodically audited and compared to copies in other library archives, and damaged or missing content is repaired, eliminating the need for back-up of digital copies.

  6. Access through a third party, such as Portico.
    If the third party is not identified in the contract, be sure the license specifies what the responsibility of that third party will be. Look for language stating that access will be guaranteed and that the content will be in a format essentially equivalent to the original publisher format.

    Portico started as the Electronic-Archiving Initiative by JSTOR in 2002, as an e-journal preservation project with proprietary software and annual licensing fees. Portico preserves archival content on its own servers. Portico receives source files from the publisher and converts them to a standard archival format, which may be different than the original publisher format.

    • Participants pay a one-time archive development fee and an annual archive support fee, which is proportionate to that library’s total materials expenditure.

    • The preservation methodology is migration; as new file formats come into use, data in obsolete formats will be updated.

    See list of participating publishers

    See journal titles committed to Portico

Technical information and statistics

  1. Technical:

    1. Firewall/Ariel consideration

    2. Authorization of remote users

    3. IP consideration


  1. Vendor provided usage data
    In what format and how often? The current preferred standard is Counter,“comma delimited” file to load into a spreadsheet, XLM etc.

  2. Side counters

  3. Define what gets counted
    Usage statistics can identify heavily used materials and also identify infrequently used materials that can assist with collection development. Typically, what is being used (content), who is using it (user), and how the database is being used (activity) are measured. When the content is used and how the data will be presented are other questions of interest. The use of content is defined as viewing, downloading, printing, or e-mailing the full text. Usage activities are measured with (hits, sessions, downloads) and summarized by the hour, day, week, month, and year. A "hit" registers each time the server receives a request to act (e.g., to do a search, to view an abstract, or to download an article.)

  4. Customize statistics

    The more options the publisher provides the more useful the statistics will be for you. For examples:

    • Query the system and specify the time period covered.

    • Access multiple years of data online to monitor growth.

    • Graph usage across years or titles or compare usage with that of other libraries.

    • Access data that are real-time or periodic updates nightly, weekly, or monthly basis.

    • Establish a profile and routinely receive the results by e-mail

Group Purchasing Arrangements

Below are group purchasing arrangements (consortia, alliances, networks, etc.) available to network members.  These arrangements are advantageous because they lower, per unit, e-licensing costs for groups of library members purchasing electronic resources.  Importantly, there are eligibility requirements for membership.  For example, a few are strictly for academic health sciences libraries, some are for the larger academic community, others have multi-type libraries as members and most arrangements do not cross state lines.

  1. HSLANJ - (Health Sciences Library Association of New Jersey) has a tradition in providing group licensing of electronic resources for hospital libraries mostly in the mid-Atlantic area; with SE/A support it is anticipated that HSLANJ will fill an important niche for hospital libraries throughout our region. For over 11 years, it has been providing access to high quality, knowledge–based resources, saving hospital libraries between 10% and 90% compared to the cost of licensing the same resources on their own.

  2. GAIN - Georgia Interactive Network
    GaIN is a non-profit, university-based electronic health care information network open to all healthcare institutions in GA. It offers a range of information services to members, including online access to medical textbooks and journals.

  3. MisHIN - Mississippi Health Sciences Information Network
    Through electronic information, MisHIN enables its members to link the newest medical information with clinical practice and thus enhancing both quality and cost effectiveness of health care delivery in Mississippi.

  4. AHEC Digital Library – North Carolina
    The AHEC Digital Library serves North Carolina healthcare professionals by providing access to current medical literature and other quality health information resources via electronic full-text formats.

  5. NAAL - Network Of Alabama Academic Libraries
    NAAL’s resource sharing projects include the purchase of electronic resources and the use of information technologies in order to effectively support academic research in Alabama.

  6. Tenn-Share
    Tenn-Share provides leadership and support in all areas of resource sharing (including the purchase of electronic resources) among libraries and information agencies of all types and sizes in Tennessee.

  7. Lyrasis Consortial licensing
    LYRASIS offers a Consortial Licensing Program, which allows a library to outsource portions of its licensing activities.

  8. The Carolina Consortium
    Academic libraries in North Carolina and South Carolina can use their bulk purchasing power to obtain favorable pricing on a variety of electronic resources that are of interest to the scholarly community.

  9. VIVA - Virtual Library of Virginia
    VIVA is a consortium of nonprofit academic libraries within Virginia and its business model eliminates duplication, leverages resources, and drives hard bargains to get the very best value for the Commonwealth's investment.

  10. WRLCWashington Research Library Consortium
    The WRLC was established in the Washington D.C. area to share library collections and information technology. One goal is to increase the scope and accessibility of information resources available to WRLC students and faculty by maintaining a cooperative process for selecting and funding shared purchases of online resources to realize cost savings.

  11. NERL - NorthEast Research Libraries consortium
    The NorthEast Research Libraries consortium (NERL) interstate membership comprises 28 academic research libraries with common objectives of access and cost containment, joint licensing, and possible joint deployment of electronic resources.

  12. USMAI - University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions
    USMAI shares resources through the centralized implementation of library software and cooperates with members for consortial purchasing of databases and e-journals.

  13. Triangle Research Libraries Network - is a collaborative organization whose purpose is to marshal resources through cooperative efforts in order to create a rich and unparalleled knowledge environment that furthers the universities' teaching, research, and service missions.

If your library is interested in participating, contact the respective group purchasing organization for details on membership requirements.

Many thanks for the efforts of the volunteers of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern/Atlantic Access Regional Advisory Committee in compiling this e-licensing tool for the membership.

For further questions about e-licensing, please contact the NN/LM SE/A Access/Outreach Coordinator, PJ Grier.