Licensing digitisation

Date01 January 2000
Published date01 January 2000
AuthorEdwardCLA Barrow
Subject MatterInformation & knowledge management
Licensing digitisation
by Edward Barrow, CLA
In January
CLA announced that it had
the support of rightsholders' groups to develop
licensing schemes for the digitisation of
strict conditions
were imposed.
After extensive consultation, the first scheme
covering the Higher Education community is
New schemes are being
developed to cover other
but in the
long term digitisation is inevitably a transitional
In January 1998, CLA issued a press release
announcing that it now had the support of UK
rightsholder groups to develop licensing schemes
for digitisation, subject to four guiding principles.
These were:
Transactional only
Exact page representation
Rightsholder opt-in
Rightsholder-determined fees
There followed an extensive period of consultation
with both users and rightsholders to devise a series
of schemes which would meet users' legitimate
requirements whilst not undermining the prospects
for primary sales of
periodicals or elec-
tronic editions.
By the end of February 1999, four schemes - those
for Higher Education, the Pharmaceutical industry,
for Churches and for the Blind, were sufficiently
well advanced to be launched to rightsholders. The
launch event was followed by a campaign by
CLA's two members, the Authors' Licensing and
Collecting Society (ALCS) and the Publishers
Licensing Society (PLS) to promote the scheme to
their members. In the case of
this involves
obtaining new mandates from each of its 1500
mandating publishers.
By August, rather later than planned, it was
possible to send out the Higher Education licence
to each of the UK's Higher Education Institutions
for signature by Vice-Chancellors - unfortunately
at the time when most of them are taking a well-
deserved break; and by mid-September it was
possible for those institutions who had returned
their licences to obtain clearances for digitisation
over the CLARCS system.
The Four guiding principles
The four guiding principles themselves each gave
rise to further questions and created further diffi-
Transactional only
The requirement that digitisation clearances
should be transactional only immediately gives
rise to the question, "what are the transactions?".
In the case of photocopy licensing, each copy or
run of copies is effectively a transaction, but in
the digital environment it makes no sense to count
copies. Much discussion was required to resolve
this particular difficulty, which is closely bound
up with the question of the pricing model to apply.
Exact page representation
Rightsholders are anxious that as much as possible
of the look and feel of their publications should be
preserved through the digitisation process. In
addition, there were concerns that errors intro-
duced during OCR could threaten the integrity of
the work. Consultation with the HE user commu-
nity, however, revealed the existence of practical
bandwidth constraints - particularly at network
printers. This meant that the simplest interpretation
Guiding Principle - that licences should be
limited to the creation of page bitmaps only -
would be unacceptable to the largest market. After
discussion with rightsholders - in particular, the
representatives of authors' groups who were most
concerned with the integrity aspects - it was
agreed that the licence should permit both simple
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