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The British Library to Change Licensing for Noncommercial, Non-U.K. Document Delivery
Posted On September 19, 2011
Starting in January 2012, The British Library (BL) will replace its current Overseas Library Privilege Service with the International Non-Commercial Document Supply (INCD) service. The new service stems from a new framework license agreement supported by the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) and the Publishers Association. It still requires libraries to be authorized, but it also imposes increased compliance documentation on library patrons. End users will have to sign declaration forms before receiving ordered items as well as annual statements of noncommercial status, forms that libraries will have to maintain for 6 years plus current year. According to one librarian with whom we spoke, the BL currently only requires more onerous form-filling by library patrons for theses and dissertations. The changes by the BL may have something to do with the new document delivery service for academic libraries called Get It Now launched by the Copyright Clearance Center this spring.

National library for the U.K., the BL is one of the world’s largest research libraries with a collection developed over 250 years and exceeding 150 million separate items. The STM is a global trade association for academic and professional publishers with more than 110 members in 21 countries who collectively publish nearly 66% of all journal articles. The Publishers Association, with 116 company members, is the leading trade organization serving book, journal, audio, and electronic publishers in the U.K.

Underlying the new service is a new “framework license” agreement currently supported by the STM. Individual publishers will enter into direct agreement with the BL. The Publishers Association in the U.K. is also supporting the new agreement for its members.

According to Michael Mabe, CEO of the STM, “The British Library framework license will give publishers, including our members, contractual control over the international cross-border delivery of copies from their material via an established and respected document supply service. It will also allow the British Library to improve the service, and delivery times, available to its authorised users.”

The new license agreement governs the supply of copies of articles and chapters of books from the BL’s Document Supply Service to noncommercial end users via not-for-profit libraries outside the U.K. Any articles supplied under the new service are solely for an end user’s own private study or noncommercial research purposes. The terms of the license differ from the library’s supply of articles for commercial purposes, the British Library Copyright Fee Paid Service, which continues in operation.

Authorized libraries, defined as noncommercial libraries linked to educational institutions that choose to use the new INCD service, will have to actively monitor and ensure end users’ compliance with the differentiation between commercial and noncommercial use. End-user qualifications for approved usage specify “an individual student or lecturer at an educational institution served by an authorised library or a person affiliated to the institution in another manner, who will use the copy ordered for non-commercial research or private study.” End users will have to sign declaration forms before they can receive an ordered article. They will also have to verify their status annually to qualify for ordering from INCD by signing an annual statement. These statements must be kept for 6 years plus the current year and made available for inspection to the BL if required (e.g., during the quarterly audit of an authorized library).

There will also be a cap on the number of deliveries to each authorized library in any calendar year. The cap is set at nine items from each volume of a journal or serial or from the same book.  

Copies of items will be delivered by mail or by the BL’s secure electronic delivery method. The latter provides a DRM (Digital Rights Management) protected electronic copy. A unique URL links to the electronic copy and is sent to the requesting library. The link may be forwarded to the end user. The item is available for download for 30 days from receipt of the link. The item is then available to print a single copy for an additional 14 days. The item cannot be forwarded after it has been downloaded. Fees for the INCD service will be the standard BL fee plus the appropriate publisher royalty fee. Any order fulfilled using the 24-hour service will attract the full commercial fee.

The BL will contact all existing licensors of STM content it currently has a direct digital agreement with and who have yet to sign the framework license agreement. The BL will also contact all non-U.K., non-commercial libraries currently registered to discuss eligibility for the new service and how to proceed. The Publisher Licensing Society will also consult with U.K. publishers in coming months regarding the possibility of receiving a U.K. mandate to enable this new service.

For more details on the new program, publishers and libraries should check here. For further inquiries, contact BL Customer Services, +44 (0)1937 546060 or To sign the new license agreement, publishers should contact BL Licensing Team, +44 (0)1937 546686 or

How will academic librarians react to the new INCD service? Kristine Shrauger, head of interlibrary loan and document delivery services at the University of Central Florida, thought the requirement for additional form-filling by library patrons and form archiving for their libraries would discourage use of BL document delivery. Ann Davis, head of interlibrary loan at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, stated, “In my opinion it is not worth the trouble. We have requested 21 articles from them this year. All of them were requested because the British Library was a last resort, but I think the demands they are making are unreasonable and the amount of time it would take us to keep up with everything they want is just not viable.”

In contrast, the new Get It Now service from the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) offers electronic document delivery of full-text articles from unsubscribed journals—24 hours a day, 7 days a week—through an application integrated into ILL workflow and/or OpenURL Link Resolver. This new service for academic libraries, the first from CCC to actually supply the documents themselves, does require some form-filling, but not as much as BL’s INCD. Authorized libraries agree to an Annual Copyright License, but it lets them reuse content obtained through Get It Now in coursepacks, e-reserves, course management system postings, institution emails, and more. Patrons agree to an online form accompanying each delivery.

One thing seems clear. With all the budget cuts academic libraries face these days, hard choices must be made and that includes document delivery.

Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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