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Copyright Clearance Center Introduces Rightsphere for Copyright Compliance
Posted On June 12, 2006
The Copyright Clearance Center ( is rolling out its latest compliance tool at the SLA conference, which is taking place this week in Baltimore. Rightsphere, which is scheduled for mass release this fall, is designed to make information sharing and copyright compliance quicker and easier within an enterprise.

At a time when delays in permissions queries can disrupt corporate collaboration initiatives, Rightsphere spells out the licensing and permissions rights in layman’s language. The user-friendly page requires little or no training. Users can click the Rightsphere button on the desktop, and the tool identifies a specific publication while pulling up the corresponding list of rights. The user simply checks off how the content will be used (e-mail, photocopies, on the intranet, etc.), and Rightsphere immediately lists what permissions are available for that content. If a user needs to purchase rights, that’s also easily arranged by clicking on the shopping cart for payment options. Rightsphere puts the user in the driver’s seat, instead of the user waiting for a corporate librarian to answer permissions questions.

Rightsphere, which complements an enterprise’s existing CCC’s annual copyright license, is a Web-based solution, so there’s no software to load or update. The Rightsphere bookmarklet can be added to a browser’s toolbar or to desktops throughout an enterprise. Only the rights manager, who is responsible for installing (and updating) subscriptions and licensing and permissions information into the tool, needs training.

Rightsphere includes:

· Instant answers to content usage questions so users can share content easily

· A way to organize and manage rights (per-use permissions, licenses, statutory laws) in a single repository that is accessible to employees

· The ability for an enterprise to generate reports and statistics on use of copyrighted materials for corporate library administrators

Two CCC customers who tested the tool liked its ease of use. Lynne Herndon, president and CEO of Cell Press (a subsidiary of Elsevier, Inc.), called it a “cool product” that helps enterprises by “organizing and identifying the rights they own and the rights they can obtain.” Likewise, Deborah Juterbock, global head of the Novartis Knowledge Center, views the tool “as a key element in our copyright and corporate compliance policies.”

After Miriam Drake, professor emeritus at the Georgia Institute of Technology Library, checked out Rightsphere, she stated it is “pretty good for its purpose … since it’s designed for corporate needs.” But since it addresses the proprietary sector, the realm of many researchers, academic institutions, and scholarly publishing are still working without such a tool at this point.

In addition, now that many corporations have a global reach, licensing issues are becoming more complicated. The result is a “complex web of copyright entitlements not easily managed through traditional copyright tracking services,” according to John Blossom, president of Shore Communications, Inc.

The development of Rightsphere comes at a time when users are looking for quick and easy answers to copyright/permission questions, according to Bill Burger, CCC’s vice president of marketing. Rightsphere cuts to the chase to provide easy answers, he said.

To keep an eye on corporate subscription use, Rightsphere also provides reports and statistics on copyrighted materials to give information managers insights to what and how content is being used throughout the company. This information can easily be used to calculate which corporate subscriptions meet employees’ needs.

Chuck Richard, Outsell, Inc.’s vice president and lead analyst, described Rightsphere as “a rights performance solution … that knocks aside the logs in the corporate rights-clearing logjam.”

Copyright violators run the risk of hefty fines. Investment management firm Legg Mason, for instance, recently was ordered to pay $20 million to a newsletter publisher for copyright infringement after the case landed in court. Legg Mason employees were charged with copyright infringement for forwarding electronic copies of a newsletter among the office staff without prior permission from the publisher. With verdicts such as this, enterprises are taking copyright concerns seriously.

CCC bills itself as “a not-for-profit organization and the world’s largest licensing agent for text reproduction rights and provider of licensing services for reproducing copyrighted materials in print and electronic formats.” In the U.S., the number of CCC-licensed customers exceeds 10,000 corporations and subsidiaries, plus government agencies, law firms, libraries, bookstores, and more. While the CCC is not without its critics, perhaps the fallout is more aptly directed at copyright restrictions rather than with any one organization.

“Content licensing is something that enterprises ought to have,” said CCC’s Burger. “We believe Rightsphere is something they will want to have.”

SLA attendees can check out Rightsphere at booth 617.

Barbara Brynko is editor-in-chief of Information Today.

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