Monday, December 03, 2007

Licensing as it ought to be! Kudos to BNA

I just read through our BNA license for their online service. I realize that many other libraries have gone with this long before mine. But I want to sing their praises for a license that ought to be a model for online subscriptions. They address all my concerns about paying the same amount (or more!) for online subscriptions as print, and getting less. In most recent license agreements, you cannot lend, you cannot make back-up or archival copies, and if you drop the subscription, you have a wisp of air – not an out-of-date, but still useable print volume on the shelf. These are all reasons I’ve been really disappointed in licenses for online materials – up til now!

The license is for one year – not tying us to a multi-year license is an important difference. We are also not obliged to maintain the print subscriptions that we are now duplicating online. That means I can still maneuver if my budget gets slashed, raided or just much tighter than I expect. I don’t expect that to happen this year, but I am much more willing to sign a license that does not bind me either continue a subscription for multiple years, or to maintain a list of print based on a snapshot in time. If my prof who uses X leaves or retires, I can drop it, and replace it with whatever the new prof needs. I have to say, the generosity and fairness of the BNA license certainly buys a deal of customer loyalty from me. If I had to choose this year between dropping a BNA title and somebody else’s, I’d avoid dropping BNA if I could!

The license and pricing are clear. I see how much I am paying and things are neatly itemized. This is another pet peeve of mine with some other vendors’ licenses. And the bill is once a year, and did I say the license is only for one year? Boy, I like that! I also love that they allow me to cancel existing subscriptions within 60 days of the agreement. That gives me time to see how faculty like the online, and if they are willing to move from print to online. I really think they have thought about how users interact with this, and how libraries work. (Has somebody out there worked with BNA? They have really listened to librarians!)

The platform access allows my users to get their BNA materials through a variety of points. They can use BNA’s own platform, Westlaw or Lexis. Users include all full time, part time and visiting faculty, plus library staff and current students, AND walk-ins to the library.

What really thrills me, is their copyright exceptions! We can digitally copy and have an archival/back-up copy. We can use a portion of the material to create digital course packs, and electronic reserve. We may cache to speed and simplify use locally. We can do scholarly sharing and ILL with the same limits we have on print materials. This is the kind of license I have been waiting for! This license for electronic material really meets the level or rights I have always had in print materials. I think it’s fair – protecting BNA’s interests while giving the library the same level of ownership in the materials that we have had in print. Thank you, BNA!

1 comment:

Simon Canick said...

This is really interesting, Betsy, thank you. We have the 'BNA All' package, but I wasn't aware of the ILL and e-reserve benefits.

When you say, "archival / back-up copy," you don't mean that you can keep it if you cancel the subscription, do you? My understanding was that this was a 'rental' license -- stop paying and it goes away.

Another point -- we signed on because for only slightly more than we were paying before, we got access to MANY new titles. But in order to make the fee manageable, we had to cancel a lot of our existing print subscriptions. That always makes me uneasy.