Different service, same broken model

broken model

Part of the problem with the digitisation of book chapters and journal articles is that there are lots of restrictions on the amount that can be copied digitally. Under the terms of the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) licence, universities can digitise one whole chapter of a book, or 5%, whichever is the greater.  As part of the negotiations for the new licence that will come into effect in 2016 the CLA are considering extending the amount to 10%.  The other alternative is to use the relatively new service that the CLA have set up for universities to purchase a second chapter from a work, when one chapter has already been digitised for a specific module.

The new service began in summer 2015 and is formally entitled the ‘Second Extract Permissions Service’.  Here at The University of Manchester Library we are regularly asked for additional chapters of the same work to be digitised – and up until now compliance with the licence meant we had to refuse.  So far, so good!

The difference is that for each second chapter, there is a charge based on a ‘per page, per student’ pricing model.  The ‘per page’ price is set by the publisher and can vary.

Although a nominal sum had been set aside to allow for a limited amount of second extract digitisation, a desktop exercise was carried out to assess how much the use of this service might actually cost.  Using 80 authentic requests for second chapters, a member of the Library’s taught-course digitisation team used the permissions service website to calculate the actual costs.  The result was quite a surprise – if we had gone ahead, the 80 requests would have cost a cool £91,000.  The most expensive single chapter was over £4000, based on a large student head-count (400), high page price (20p) and high number of pages (50+).  From a work published by Ashgate…  Page prices varied, from 10p per page to 60p per page.

During the negotiations to develop the second extract service, the CLA were pressed to accept a flat-fee approach, which would probably have achieved a greater uptake of the service.  As with e-book suppliers, a 1-1 pricing model was insisted upon.  They could have accepted that not every student on a course would have read the chapter that been digitised – would 50% have been more appropriate?

As a result, we’ll be looking long and hard at the price before we go down the route of digitising second chapters!

Martin Snelling, University of Manchester Library

photo credit: Josh Miller via flickr (license)

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