Magazine article Online

Royalty Fees Part II: Copyright and Clearinghouses

Magazine article Online

Royalty Fees Part II: Copyright and Clearinghouses

Article excerpt

In our last column ("Royalty Fees Part I: The Copyright Clearance Center and Publishers," ONLINE, March/April 1998, pages 83-86), we began a three-part series on how royalty fees and payments for copyrighted works are established. Interviewing publishers who may have registered major library and information journals with Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), we compared their royalty fees as well as described the history and rationale behind these royalties.

In this column and the next, we explore how document supply clearinghouses charge users royalty fees, negotiate royalty agreements directly with publishers and/or reproduction rights organizations such as CCC, and compensate publishers and authors for photocopied articles. Paula begins here by describing the difficulties in fulfilling document requests economically due to the complexities in determining royalty fees. In the next column, Stephanie will present the survey results of interviews with five document supply clearinghouses.


Imagine conducting 50 or more searches every day, and that for every search you had to compare the online charges of five or more different vendors. I don't mean database producers. I mean vendors, each with distinct search commands, format variations, telecommunications charges, and per-print fees. Could you be productive and efficient? Would you make money for your information center or business, satisfy all your clients, and in every case feel that you made the right choices in selecting the most economical service and most reliable vendors? Would you have any time left for serving your patrons' other needs, learning new technologies, training, or performing additional responsibilities of the job? Now imagine following the same process to fulfill each document request! For anyone involved in interlibrary loan or document delivery, every day could be spent juggling time, money, and efficient delivery options. In almost twenty years of delivering documents to corporate, academic, and government libraries, and to end-users, I have never received the same photocopy request twice, and have rarely obtained articles from the same journal issue or proceedings. Every document request is a new challenge, as I attempt to identify, locate, and acquire a copy in the shortest amount of time at the lowest cost to the client.

Using OPACS (Online Public Access Catalogs), OCLC, and manual reference tools, I usually locate the requested publication in a library in which we have photocopy subcontractors (runners) or at one of the major document delivery clearinghouses. This is a pretty timeconsuming exercise, since so many libraries are reducing their collections by canceling subscriptions and/or not purchasing expensive proceedings.

But the major variable, after locating a publication in a library or clearinghouse, has become the royalty fee. Not only have the fees risen in recent years, but the differences between Copyright Clearance Center's fees and those negotiated between publishers and some clearinghouses have become so vast, that title-by-title or article-by-article comparisons are the only way to be sure to get the best deal.

The chart that accompanied our last column compared the fees of 12 library and information journal publishers. In this issue's column, we track the same titles in our survey of royalty fees at five document supply clearinghouses. Using these same titles as in the previous column, we are creating an objective look at the royalty scene.


First, here are some assumptions about my fictional client. Let's suppose my client is based in the United States, requires an article from any of the journals listed on the chart with this article, and is in no rush to receive the document.

My first step is to log into Copyright Clearance Center Online (http://www. to check whether the journal is registered. If it is, I note the base royalty fee and calculate my costs, including the number of pages if the royalty is based on a per page charge. …

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