Available - But not Accessible? Investigating Publisher e-lending Licensing Practices

Forthcoming, Information Research

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 19/20

19 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2019 Last revised: 21 Jun 2019

See all articles by Rebecca Giblin

Rebecca Giblin

Monash University - Faculty of Law

Jenny Kennedy

RMIT University

Kimberlee G. Weatherall

The University of Sydney Law School

Daniel Ian Gilbert

Monash University

Julian Thomas

RMIT University

Francois Petitjean

Monash University

Date Written: October 4, 2018

Abstract

Introduction: We report our mixed-methods investigation of publishers’ licensing practices, which affect the books public libraries can offer for e-lending.

Method: We created unique datasets recording pricing, availability and licence terms for sampled titles offered by e-book aggregators to public libraries across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and United Kingdom. A third dataset records dates of availability for recent bestsellers. We conducted follow-up interviews with representatives of 5 e-book aggregators.

Analysis: We quantitatively analysed availability, licence terms and price across all aggregators in Australia, snapshotting the competitive playing field in a single jurisdiction. We also compared availability and terms for the same titles from one aggregator across five jurisdictions, and measured how long it took for a sample of recent bestsellers to become available for e-lending. We used data from the aggregator interviews to explain the quantitative findings.

Results: Contrary to aggregator expectations, we found considerable intra-jurisdictional price and licence differences. We also found numerous differences across jurisdictions.

Conclusions: While availability was better than anticipated, licensing practices make it infeasible for libraries to purchase certain kinds of e-book (particularly older titles). Confidentiality requirements make it difficult for libraries to shop (and aggregators to compete) on price and terms.

Keywords: public libraries, libraries, elending, e-lending, ebooks, e-books, aggregators, licensing, oc/ou, metered access, OverDrive, visualisation, information research

JEL Classification: Y10, Y80, Z10

Suggested Citation

Giblin, Rebecca and Kennedy, Jenny and Weatherall, Kimberlee Gai and Gilbert, Daniel Ian and Thomas, Julian and Petitjean, Francois, Available - But not Accessible? Investigating Publisher e-lending Licensing Practices (October 4, 2018). Forthcoming, Information Research; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 19/20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3346199

Rebecca Giblin (Contact Author)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

Jenny Kennedy

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Kimberlee Gai Weatherall

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Daniel Ian Gilbert

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

Julian Thomas

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Francois Petitjean

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

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