General Background

All licenses which the University of Michigan enters into with a commercial or not-for-profit information provider must be reviewed by legal counsel within Purchasing. These licenses are officially between the Regents of the University of Michigan and the information or information service provider, not between the Library and the provider. [Note: Agreements negotiated through CIC are considered licenses between CIC and the publisher.]

The arena of licenses is still evolving and review of such agreements frequently requires a balancing of desired elements and those where there is mutual agreement between the Library and the information provider. Criteria for evaluating licenses are provided below as guidelines to inform this process.

Since many of these license agreements require a technical and access policy review which is not the expertise domain of Purchasing, licenses should be reviewed first by the AD for DLI (or her designee) before transmission to Serials Acquisitions. Serials Acquisitions then enters the request in Innopacq and sends the license to Purchasing for review. This Purchasing review process typically takes a minimum of 2 weeks and often longer. Appendix 7 includes extracts from Yale's licensing site which may be informative for selectors.

Criteria for

License Evaluation

Access vs. Ownership

Ideally, the Library would like to own long-term rights to whatever content it has licensed. If, for example, the license is terminated, UM would like to be able to keep the content which is acquired through the initial license (though, obviously, any additions to the content would not occur). Some publishers will agree to this, some won't.

Oftentimes, there is a price differential between a license to own the content vs. a "lease." Here, issues of long-term access options and cost need to be weighed. Is there another archival site? Are there other formats of the content on campus? These questions need to be addressed in the review/decision process.

Archival Status

Issues surrounding archival status of digital information collections and services are complex. Definitions of archives are still emerging and the costs and processes for ensuring long-term access to digital information are largely unknown. Appendix 6 contains the report of the Archiving of Digital Information Task Force which may provide useful background about the issues.

Despite the uncertainties of archiving, when entering into a license for remote access to digital collections, it is worth inquiring about the archiving plans of the information provider. Related issues include the existence of mirror sites or other near-term precautions to ensure enduring access.

In-Library Use


The ideal license allows campus-wide access to the networked information resource. Typically, information providers raise questions about authentication and, in particular, how in-library access will be managed. The specific issue for publishers is the potential for non-UM users to have access through in-library workstations which do not authenticate users individually as members of our community.

There are two issues associated with these questions. First, as a research library which tries to service a broader audience, particularly in its in-library services and collections, the University Library tries to provide open access to electronic resources through in-library workstations whenever possible. The second issue is one of authentication. While it is often possible to require individual and resource-specific authentication, this poses problems. Users, for example, may forget to log-out of a resource and system time-out features are difficult to construct in a way that allows for sufficient delays in retrieval.

If a publisher or information service provider requires additional compensation for in-library access, the preferred mode is that the license allow for all libraries in the Library system to have such in-library access.

Authorized Users

Licenses typically define the authorized user community as the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Michigan. In most cases, UM is translated as the Ann Arbor campus, though there is sometimes potential to negotiate licenses which include Flint and Dearborn for no additional cost. Opportunities for inclusion of Flint/Dearborn should be brought to the attention of these library directors (either directly or the AD for DLI can make these contacts, if preferred).

In 1995, the University began offering Internet services and other customized information resources to alumni and other affiliated communities (e.g., parents of students, retirees). This program, called UM Online or UMOL, results in alumni and affiliates receiving umich.edu uniquenames and also can result in UM-associated IP addresses for these individuals. Efforts are underway to more finely discriminate authentication ("you are who you say you are") and authorization ("you can look at or use specific resources") protocols for these communities. Unfortunately, in the interim, a small (but growing) number of non-UM users may have access to UM-licensed resources.

The AD for DLI is prepared to explain these issues to the information provider as part of the license negotiation and explain efforts underway to initiate new web authentication protocols. In addition, sometimes it is possible and/or desirable to negotiate alumni access for additional charges and this requires negotiation with the UMOL staff.

It is important that we have some consistency in explaining these issues of UM affiliates and web access and, therefore, selectors are requested to coordinate the license negotiation early on in the process with the AD for DLI.



Several issues arise within licenses related to ensuring that the appropriate community has access to the licensed resource and that non-authorized communities don't have access. In general:

  • The UM Library prefers not to maintain or manage individual-based accounts or passwords for specific titles or services.
  • Web-based resources pose specific authentication problems which are being addressed through several security projects. Some of these options are described in Appendix 4.
  • The University is moving away from the use of social security numbers as unique identifiers.
  • more?
Conditions of Use


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