Published date01 March 1988
Date01 March 1988
AuthorRaymond A. Wall
Subject MatterLibrary & information science
by Raymond A. Wall
Librarians and other information service professionals are naturally concerned with
the needs of their end-user communities as well as their own service requirements.
This overview of licensing methods lays more emphasis on print than on non-print
materials. Since copying from books is rare outside schools, the main concern here
is copying from journals of academic, industrial or professional interest.
This article aims to bridge the gap between the two "sides" of the photocopying
controversy, perhaps better called the "licensing controversy". Many information
professionals are authors, and the professional bodies are publishers in their own
right. But even without these facts it is obviously to the benefit of everyone that the
legitimate rights of copyright owners should be upheld, since those incentives underpin
the education and information world. Librarians are however also keen to maintain
as easy access to information as possible and to seek an equitable balance between
the interests of rights owners and users of copyright materials.
The overweening commercial attitudes of some major publishers who ought to know
better are in danger of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, for publishing
is one node of a loop system of communication which links with education and
libraries and back round to authors.
It is for this reason that it has been said many times on behalf of the library profession
that there should not be "sides" in this context. Instead of writing papers at each
other, a joint working group should seek new or improved means of drawing revenue
from outside the communication loop so as to avoid waste or other economic damage
to the system.
The communication loop is a more or less closed economic microcosm, and merely
moving money around inside it, taking it from one node and giving it to another,
ultimately helps no-one and can harm the end users of communication media
in fact, the very external sources of money which should be courted. So far, the "other
has always found a reason for not talking, and at the time of writing the reason
is naturally the fact that a new bill is going through Parliament. However, the licensing
controversy has much older roots.
Whitford Report
The Whitford Committee, having considered a large volume of evidence which
librarians believed to be heavily weighted with commercial publishing views,
recommended in its 1977 report a system of "blanket licensing". A blanket licence
was indicated as meaning one which involves the works of a group of rights owners
and "From the user's point of view the essence of a blanket licence is that it covers
all the works he wants to copy".
In attempting to react appropriately to the "xeroxing revolution" from the late 1950s
onwards, the Committee had apparently taken the world of entertainment as a model,
for the Performing Right Society is mentioned as a "good example" of a blanket 33

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