CONTU payment question advice

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  • My university belongs to a Consortium. In paying for CONTU for 2008, there were some journals which are available at my university which students requested from the Consortium. Some are available in hard copy and others through our eresources. Do I need to pay for these items over CONTU if I am sure that my university had them at the time of the student's request. Does it make a difference if the journal is in hard copy or in electronic format. I want to be fair, but also don't want to waste my university's money.
  • I hope I'm not being too sticky here, but I think that you're referring to clearing copyright, which is not the same as paying for CONTU. CONTU provides valuable guidelines about when we should pay for copyright clearance, but they are suggestions, not law.

    That said, I'm not sure if I'm understanding correctly or not, but it seems like what you're describing is basically interlibrary loan, with perhaps simplified processes or reduced costs because of the consortial agreement. If this is the case, then I would think that you would basically want to follow the same rules that you follow with interlibrary loan lending of copies. If these are unmediated and there's no other library tracking copyright on them, it may make more sense to treat them as interlibrary loan borrowing requests for copyright purposes.

    Either way, keep in mind, that with e-resources, copyright often doesn't come into play at all. Instead, most are governed by license agreements, which you should check. They may or may not allow access to those unaffiliated with your institution, but in either case, it should be spelled out.

    Does anyone else have another take on this?
  • Perhaps I am misreading this rather cryptic question, but I think lmclaugh is asking if these interlibrary loan transactions should count against the "rule of five" suggested in the CONTU guidelines for ILL. Here, students borrowed material from within a consortium while that material was also available at the home institution; perhaps they could not find the material properly or some parts of a journal run were temporarily unavailable. In any case, some of those ILL transactions put the school over the five borrowings, as defined by CONTU, and lmclaugh wants to know if she needs to pay copyright fees for those items.

    My understanding is that the rule of five applies only to titles for which one does not have a current subscription. The rule is intended to prevent the use of ILL in such aggregate amounts as to substitute for purchases the title. Once the library subscribes to a title, this is no longer an issue, and borrowings from the title, for whatever reason such borrowings might still be necessary, do not need to be counted in "rule of five" record-keeping. If that reasoning is correct, the form of the current subscription -- print or electronic -- should not matter; what matters is that the publisher is getting paid, so the ILL transactions can not plausibly be viewed as an attempt to avoid subscription.
  • Oh, I was understanding the requesters to be from other libraries within the consortium, borrowing from the library in question. If, as ksmith understands it, the requesters are from your institution borrowing from other libraries in the consortium, then I agree with his analysis with a couple of caveats:

    1. For items with license agreements (generally, but not always, items in electronic format), those license agreements trump copyright law. Some of our license agreements restrict use to within the library, or via specific access methods. Obtaining articles in other ways MIGHT occasionally need to be treated more like an interlibrary loan request IF you have some restrictive license agreements.

    2. Some publishers may consider large copy requests to be taking the place of more than one subscription. Therefore, when patrons request copies of large portions of issues, we sometimes determine that it is prudent to clear copyright, even if we already have a subscription to the title. Perhaps we are overcautious in this matter. I would be interested to know other libraries' policies regarding copyright clearance when making copies for their own patrons.
  • Thanks to both ksmith and Ms. Anderson - ksmith is correct in what I was asking and I am grateful for his analysis as wells as Ms. Anderson's caveats.

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