Charles Oppenheim - "We're doomed" or "don't panic"? E book licence issues


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Charles Oppenheim - "We're doomed" or "don't panic"? E book licence issues

  1. 1. “WE’RE DOOMED” OR “DON’TPANIC”? E BOOK LICENCE ISSUES Professor Charles Oppenheim 11th Annual E-Books Conference, 27/10/11
  2. 2. WHO ARE THE PLAYERS?• Author• Publisher - maybe also in other media; can be commercial, learned society, Government agencies, not for profit bodies, Universities, etc.• Aggregator – not always in the chain as e-book publisher might sell directly; normally a commercial organisation• Intermediary, such as Amazon, selling via Kindle or through someone else’s hardware• Librarian – not always in the chain as the sale may be to the user directly• Reader/user• Each player typically has a licence or some other contractual link with the next in the chain, but not with anyone more distant in the chain
  3. 3. THE CONTRACT (LICENCE)• Negotiated between parties of different strengths - normally the supplier is in the stronger position, but not always• In most cases it is “take it or leave it” - no room for negotiation - but this is not so common in the case of large users• N.B. Unfair Contract Terms Act does NOT apply when the licensee is an organisation
  4. 4. WHAT IS A LICENCE?• Not a sale (assignment)• Compare to house sale/rent• Licence is equivalent to renting• Why isn’t it an assignment/sale?• If you sign a licence, you don’t necessarily get the e-book in perpetuity
  5. 5. THE PROBLEM WITH LICENCES• Series of contracts with a series of suppliers, each with different terms and conditions• This in turn requires you to inform your users• Some may impose unacceptable terms and conditions on your users• IN THE END, IT’S UP TO YOU WHETHER YOU ACCEPT THE LICENCE OR NOT, AND WHAT YOU TELL YOUR USERS
  6. 6. MODEL LICENCES•• Model-Licence-/ - there is an e-book model licence but it doesn’t seem to be online yet; no doubt it will be similar to the e journals model licence shown at the above URL.• Have a good look at both of them, decide which clauses look good in them, and try to get them incorporated into any e-book licence you deal with!
  7. 7. CLAUSES YOU MIGHT ENCOUNTER• Parties – who is signing• Definitions – of information being supplied, jargon terms• Obligations on licensor – few, if any, , e.g., to inform of changes to content or prices; user manuals, help desk, training.• Term, and renewal• Fees payable, VAT
  8. 8. CONDITIONS OF USE• What can, and cannot be done with the information, e.g., redissemination, saving copies, systematic copying, % that can be copied, merger with other data, re-selling of content (either in part, or the entire e-book), lending, downloading onto mobile devices, length of time downloads can be retained for, extent of printing, adaption of content, limitations to, e.g., private research or private study…..e-book licences vary wildly on these points – make sure you are happy with what the licence says!• Copyright notices, if any, that must appear• Distribution to Intranets/portals• Numbers of simultaneous users/machines
  9. 9. AUTHORISED USERS• Full time staff? Part-time staff? Certain types of staff? Visitors? Walk-in users? Anyone and everyone?
  10. 10. WARRANTY AND INDEMNITY• Warrants that information is owned by licensor, or licensor is empowered to enter into licence• Warrants that information does not infringe copyright or other similar rights anywhere in the world (sometimes limited to one country though)• Warrants that information does not break law, e.g., is not defamatory, pornographic, does not breach anti- terrorism laws, data protection laws, etc. (Normally NOT on offer, but should ideally be present)• Indemnity for licensee should any of the warranties turn out not to apply
  11. 11. OBLIGATIONS ON LICENSEE• To keep passwords confidential• To deal with any breaches of contract by authorised users• But attempts to REQUIRE licensee to police users should be resisted; “use best endeavours” to do this better from user point of view, worse from producer point of view• Attempts to make licensee liable for misdeeds of users also should be resisted if possible• To destroy all copies of content, software, etc., at termination
  12. 12. LIABILITY• What if the information is erroneous?• Can cause physical injury• Can cause financial damage• Many Court cases around the world have shown that information providers cannot get out of obligations with catch-all waiver clauses, but do expect searchers to use diligence and common sense, especially if they are professionals
  13. 13. KEY WORDS TO LOOK OUT FOR• “to the extent permitted by law, we waive liability…”• Too often e-book publishers make no representations of, and accept no liability for, accuracy, correctness, lack of omissions or reliability. Such clauses are invalid in UK law; better to try and persuade the licensor to use the words above.
  14. 14. PROTECTING STATUTORY RIGHTSThis agreement is without prejudice to anyacts which the licensee is permitted to carryout by the terms of the Copyright Designs andPatents Act 1988, and nothing in thisagreement shall be construed as affecting ordiminishing such permitted acts or exceptionsto copyright in any way whatsoever.This wording or similar should be present – ifnot, press for its inclusion!
  15. 15. FINAL BITS• Applicable law – very important; best if it is your home country, but this may not be possible if dealing with a major vendor. Often left ambiguous or ignored – very unhelpful• Dispute resolution – arbitration – rarely mentioned but can be useful• Complete agreement – nothing else constitutes any part of it• May not assign rights and obligations except with agreement of other party – rarely mentioned but can be useful• Confidentiality – keep this contract secret, privacy of client• force majeure (circumstances beyond reasonable control)