Re: License Agreements Which Charge More For Multiple Users

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  • Carrie,
    We're working with a vendor who will send us a PDF of the document but wants to charge us $500 more if the user that receives it emails it on to another employee. Apparently that's part of their license agreement. Doesn't that sound a little crazy? Could it be considered fair use for us to receive the PDF and then circulate it to another user. After all, it is purely internal? Please advise.
  • My understanding of your posting is that the license agreement clearly prohibits the sharing of the referenced PDF of the license agreement with any other employee. Licensing is a formal contract between purchaser and owner in which they agree to certain conditions. It might be possible to make changes based upon your needs as the purchaser, but these would need to be negotiated with the owner. I am not an attorney, but it is my understanding that contractual terms dictate the kind of legal use available to the purchaser, potentially preempting uses invoking an expemption such as fair use. It would be interesting to hear others' thoughts on this issue.
  • First, IANAL.

    Like most cases, it depends on your situation.

    Licenses and contracts aren't necessarily the same thing. Licensing may or may not be contractual, and terms of a license or contract may or may not be valid. ;) I've certainly seen a push, particularly on the digital technologies side of thing, for companies to treat a license like a contract, but your use and liability depends on your situation.

    If you've negotiated and signed a license agreement, and the license specifically gives those crazy terms, then my guess is you'd be treating it like a contract.

    Most contract law is state law. You may look at the uniform commercial code for general info that's probably applicable in your area, but contract law will be different from place to place. What fun. If your library has counsel available to it, I suggest you ask if you can...
  • It is not clear from your question if you have yet seen, much less signed, the license agreement at this point. I think you need to see the provision in question and examine it carefully. I wonder if it is trying to track the provision in section 108(b)(2) of the Copyright Act that permits libraries to make digital reproductions for preservation but not to distribute them outside the library in that format. The intent, I think, is to prevent really easy and cheap downstream copying. If that is what the license provision is aiming at, you may still have the right, within the limits of fair use, to print the PDF and distribute it that way.
  • The license agreement applies. Copyright law is a stranger here.

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