Magazine article Online

Royalty Fees Part III: Copyright and Clearinghouses-Survey Results

Magazine article Online

Royalty Fees Part III: Copyright and Clearinghouses-Survey Results

Article excerpt

In recent columns, we have been discussing how copyright royalty fees are established by publishers and distributed to rights holders by the Copyright Clearance Center and document supply clearinghouses. We created a hypothetical scenario in which Paula attempted to determine and compare the royalty fees for several library and information journal articles registered with five major clearinghouses, and as ordered by U.S. customers. The results of her findings were displayed in a graph, published in our last column ("Royalty Fees Part II: Copyright and Clearinghouses," ONLINE, May/June 1998, pp. 51-56).

As we reported, there is wide discrepancy among royalty fees charged by The British Library Document Supply Centre, Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI), ISI Document Solution, UMI InfoStore, and UnCover. Next, in an attempt to understand how each clearinghouse negotiates fees with publishers, Stephanie contacted each service with a series of questions. She received responses from four of the clearinghouses-UnCover declined to be interviewed, due to a pending lawsuit.


I corresponded by email with Andrew Braid, Head of Publisher Liaison, The British Library Document Supply Centre. Printed materials describing the Centre's services and fees were also mailed to me. Royalty fees for 250,000 journal titles (45,000 currently received) are available free on the Library's Web site (, semiannually on CD-ROM for a fee of 325 (approximately $530), and by annual subscription to The British Library's Automated Information Service (Blaise Line and Blaise Web; 105 or approximately $170, plus hourly connect time and record display charges). An annual, fixed fee, based on volume searching, is also available to Blaise users.

The British Library has direct agreements with publishers and the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), the United Kingdom equivalent of CCC. Payments are made quarterly to publishers and CLA. Most publisher agreements let The British Library store and deliver documents electronically, while CLA does not. Royalty fees are distributed to rights holders through Reproduction Rights Organizations worldwide.

Publishers establish varying royalty rates for articles published after 1989. The OPAC97 Web site lists fees for all 250,000 titles in the Library's collection. Fees are quoted in L Sterling. A flat fee of 4.20 (approximately $6.85 per item) is charged for pre-1990 articles, since The British Library feels "that the market expects a lower rate for older material." Note, however, that the pre-1990 royalty fees are in many cases higher than the fees for 1997 journal articles in our survey. We advise readers in countries outside the U.S. to seek pricing information directly from the Centre ( bsds/dsc/intlphot.html and http:// uk/services/bsds/dsc/coprite. html).

Issue-level reporting is provided to publishers ("mandatory" fields include the publication's ISSN, bibliographic details as supplied by the customer, number of pages supplied, date supplied, and "copyright" or royalty fee). Individual users who order documents from the Library are not identified in reports, although the Centre may record codes classifying the customer's country, type (university, college/other academic, public, government, commercial, individuals, broker/agent, and unknown/miscellaneous/other), and standard industrial classification.

We asked whether individual article information is recorded so that authors who retain copyright (or whose publishers agree to forward payment) can be compensated for copies made of their articles. In response, Mr. Braid informed me that The British Library registers issue-level information "for all current material" and that it is "theoretically possible to get to individual articles if the requester has made a clear request."


I initially spoke with Elizabeth Katz, Communications Manager, and later e-mailed Mary Samson, Head, Client Services, Document Delivery, with additional questions. …

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