Intellectual Freedom and Copyright

Misconceptions about Licensing Electronic Content and E-Rights

This article was originally posted at Lesley Ellen Harris' blog copyrightlaws.com.

With the relative newness of digital licensing and the growing opportunities for licensing electronic content (including on social networking sites), there are a number of misconceptions already developing. By discussing and clearing up these misconceptions, it will help clear the path to an easier negotiating road and to better licenses.

Misconception #1: Not all licenses are negotiable. Almost every licence is negotiable, but often you have to ask the other side if they are willing to negotiate so that you will have a licence that meets your needs. Always remember to only accept a licence and arrangement that works for you in your particular circumstances.

Misconception #2: Licenses must be in “heretherewithto” language. It is best for everyone to use plain English in your licenses and not technical or legal language. Say what you mean and put that in writing. If the language is unclear, ask the other side what things mean. Define terms in the licence that are unclear.

Misconception #3: I need a lawyer. Often content owners and users know more about digital licensing than lawyers. Do not be intimidated by not having continuous access to a lawyer. Do your homework and ask questions so you are comfortable with the arrangement into which you are entering.

Misconception #4: Renegotiating every year is mandatory. Nothing is mandatory! Negotiating is time-consuming and costly. At the same time, technology is changing rapidly and so is the way we all use digital content. Lengthy durations for licence agreements may not be appropriate, so consider an automatic renewal clause, provided that both parties are satisfied with how the licence is working out for them and provided each side has an opportunity to positively opt-in to the renewal.

Misconception #5: You can control your users. The licence agreement you sign is between you and either an owner or user of content. Your licence only contractually obligates you and that owner or user. As such, you cannot agree, or expect the other party, to police subsequent users of that content. However, you may wish to educate staff and researchers about legally using licensed content, and obligate any user licensing your content to do the same.

Misconception #6: You may restrict fair use or fair dealing. Parties to a licence may agree to limit fair use or fair dealing between the parties subject to the agreement. However, any other persons are not bound by that agreement. These persons may apply the relevant copyright law to their use, which means that fair use or fair dealing, would apply to that licensed content.

Misconception #7: Standard licenses are the answer. Each situation is unique. Although model or standard licenses may seem like the answer to avoid costly and time-draining negotiations, you must always look at your own particular situation and find an arrangement that is suitable to your needs.

Misconception #8: One side always loses in negotiations. In the ideal world, negotiations should be “win-win.” In other words, both parties should be satisfied with the end result. This, of course, is not always possible. By being prepared before entering into negotiations and by understanding your needs as well as the needs of the other party, you will be taking the right steps to finding an agreement satisfactory to both sides.

Resources on licensing:

The Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter regularly carries articles on licensing.

Licensing Digital Content, A Practical Guide for Librarians, 2nd ed.

A Canadian Museum’s Guide to Developing a Digital Licensing Agreement Strategy, 2nd ed published May 2011.

Self-study online courses on licensing offered by the American Library Association (ALA)

Checklist – 18 Things to Do to Manage Copyright Laws in 2011

Originally posted at Lesley Ellen Harris' Website, copyrightlaws.com.

The year end is often a time to review finances, clean off desks, and get organized for the new year.  Below is a list of actions to get your copyright matters in order.

Permissions and Licenses

1. Check all licenses for electronic content to determine if any expire at the end of 2010.  Do you want to renew expiring licenses or allow them to expire?  Do you need to take any action to notify the vendor/content owner of your intention to renew or not renew a license?

2. Prepare a database of all content your organization has licensed. Whether it’s an image to use on a promotional brochure, or content from a large electronic database, include all content in a single searchable database that allows you to quickly and easily locate that content and determine what rights you have in it.

3. Generally, the duration of copyright expires at the end of each calendar year.  Determine if any of the works you want to use will be in the public domain in 2011. Review one list of works entering into the public domain on 1 January 2011.

4. Develop the “ultimate” list on what your organization needs from its license agreements. Do you need remote access or the right to share a PDF file? Do you need to make print-outs, or post articles to your intranet? What about using portions of the database for internal education/ seminars? Use the list as a set of goals in your future negotiations for licenses.

Budget

5. Consider your 2011 budget for permissions, licenses and copyright training.  Consult various people in your organization to gather their needs and preferences.  Prepare a draft budget and ensure you have the funds you need to meet your copyright needs in 2011.

Education and Training

6. Brainstorm ideas to get the copyright message to your colleagues.  How about a weekly lunchtime discussion group on copyright issues? Include senior management, marketing and information professionals, and lawyers.  Aim for a diverse group of speakers from authors to photographers to web designers to librarians.  The discussions can help “sensitize” your colleagues about copyright rather than being a lecture style format.

7. Continue your own copyright education.  Do you need a refresher course on copyright?  Or perhaps a course on international copyright or web 2.0 copyright issues?  See what in-person or online courses are being offered.

Management and Compliance

8. Develop a written copyright policy. If you do not already have one, first determine why you need one and how you would use it. If you have one, determine whether it is valuable, how you can improve or update it.

9. Do the same copyright questions arise again and again in your organization? Year end is a good time to compile these questions and prepare short practical answers.  Circulating these Qs & As to your colleagues or posting them on an intranet may help your organization better comply with copyright.

Copyright News and Information

10. Review copyright legislation in 2010 as well as court cases.  Are there any legislative amendments to your country’s Copyright Act that affect you?  Any court cases that interpret the copyright law that relate to your uses of copyright materials?

11. Try to better understand fair use/dealing. Is fair use/dealing narrow or broad? What research is covered by fair use? Create your own checklist to determine what may constitute fair use/dealing in your organization.

12. Create a list of favorite sites and books on copyright so that when you have a copyright issue in 2011, you can quickly consult reliable, helpful sources.

13. Investigate how best to follow copyright issues in 2011.  Sign up for a RSS feed?  Follow someone on Twitter?  (Try Copyrightlaws @ Twitter)  Participate on a discussion list?  There are free and subscription newsletters that may provide timely and relevant news.

Copyright Symbol and Protection

14. Review how you are protecting your own copyright works from documents to images to podcasts and videos.  Although voluntary in most countries, using the universal copyright symbol© is a reminder that copyright exists in a work.  Including contact information for permissions will direct people when obtaining copyright permissions.

15. Copyright registration is voluntary in most countries but consider registering your works with your country’s copyright office.  Rather than registering individual works, register a group or collection of works produced during the year to save time and registration fees.  Registration is important if you are distributing your works to the public and may need to enforce your rights through legal action.

16. Review your agreements with consultants. Who retains copyright ownership in consulting reports? If your organization does, make sure that this is clearly stated in your agreement and if necessary provide for an assignment of this work to your organization. If the consultant owns his works, take a look at the rights your organization has in any of the consultant’s work. If you are a consultant, review what rights you have in your own works.

17. Undergo an intellectual property or IP audit. It’s a great way to make sure all the content and computer software you are using is legal, and a great way to find out what IP you own, and how to market and better profit from that IP. This is true for individuals, small and large organizations.

18. Set up a mechanism for monitoring the legal use of your own online content on an international basis. This can be as simple as doing search engine searches, or you could hire a professional who specializes in finding unauthorized uses of content.  Piracy is not only the domain of the software and entertainment industries.  You may find surprises in how your individual or organization’s rights are being exploited, and your works used and perhaps even sold without your permission.

Click for permission to freely post this checklist on your blog, intranet or website.

Welcome to alaeditions.org!

I would like to welcome you to Editions.org and our open-forum blog. It is my privilege to be the Publisher of both TechSource (subscriptions, e-learning, webinars, and workshops) and Editions (professional and reference books, both print and electronic). My team is part of a larger unit at the American Library Association called Publishing.

The dirty little secret is that I am not a librarian, but I know a great deal about what librarians do, what they think about, and what they are concerned about.  But I never know enough; I will never be close enough to the action because I do not work in a library. So my colleagues and I depend on you tell us what is going on and what you need for your professional development. And here is a chance for you to do just that.

Something that we in publishing share with librarians of all kinds is high anxiety about how quickly our work world is changing. I am old enough (the proverbial 39, thank you Mr. Benny) to remember when the art and science of putting a book together meant having a hand-written manuscript typed by two different people (in order to ensure that the material was correct), comparing the documents, creating a master with hand edits, and sending it off to the compositor—who made galleys. (And why did we call them galleys, anyway. A galley is a long metal tray that holds type ready for printing.)

The galleys would be edited, read by the author, edited and corrected again, and sent back to the author. Changes would be made again until we finally had page proofs, which were sent back to the author and then to a proof reader. Cover art had to be hand drawn; even charts, graphs, and other display elements were hand drawn—we had an art department with lighted tables, for goodness sake.  And permission letters were a horrible bore—they took forever to do and get back. Did I forget the index……done manually? Once the art was in place and the index readied the second set of page proofs were sent off to the author. Corrections always came back, no matter how often you explained that an author could not rewrite anything! Finally, everything was sent to the printer, who put the book under the camera to make film, to make plates....and on and on.

Well, the back and forth still goes on, and we still go to the printer (for how long, one wonders). But it is all so wonderfully different now; still a lot of work for both author and publisher, but our output is more than just a physical book. It can be a PDF of the book you can print yourself; but it also can be an e-bundle that allows you to read one of our books on your Kindle or iPad or whatever your favorite device happens to be.

And of course, this is part of our shared high anxiety: Will an actual book disappear? Some may remember a quaint little movie “84 Charing Cross Road” with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins from 1986—a movie that glorified and revered not only books, but old books. In it are great scenes from the proverbial musty book shop in the basement of a London building. The staff was totally devoted to and knowledgeable about books, great ones and little volumes of seemingly no consequence other than the fact that someone wanted to own them and read them. To have them. Librarians and publishers alike are anxiously asking if patrons will continue to want and to own books. And no one knows for sure.

Now I have to confess my second dirty little secret: I have owned a Kindle for over two years, and I love it. Not only do I love it, I take it everywhere. My non-publishing friends are scandalized. But you are a book publisher. No, I respond, I am a publisher and my world has changed greatly. I want librarians to own our books, courses, and newsletters, but I don’t care if they buy an actual book or something they load on their Sony Reader. Just tell us by your buying decisions that we are publishing correctly for you. What I really want to know is if our content is helping librarians be better librarians, which is what ALA Publishing in general and TechSource and Editions in particular are all about.

So, welcome again to our blog. We want to talk about anything that has to do with books, with publishing, with libraries, with technology…..come join the party.

Michael


P.S. Many of you may have heard that Barnes & Noble is for sale. Leonard Riggio, the founder, will probably lead a group of investors and take the chain private (again). It was not long ago that the entire industry was in fear and trepidation about the power and control that the super store chains would have on the book world.  Everyone fretted that one company, with over 700 stores, would so dominate the market. They indeed did change the landscape. There are very few independent stores around. In 2001, B & N’s total market capitalization was $2.2 billion while Amazon’s capitalization was $3.6 billion.

Now the shoe is on the other foot. B & N today is capitalized at $950 million while Amazon is currently at $55 billion. Who’s the monster now…….?
 

Syndicate content