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Past Challenges to Licensing from Some Publishers

The following resources were previously considered challenges to the CDL licensing process, but have since been resolved. The s tatements below are provided for historical reference.


American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2008)
STATUS: Per CDC approval, this statement was removed in February 2012.

A 2004 letter from the AAAS addressed to each UC campus indicated that AAAS intended to charge its top 150 users a higher rate for Science Online in order to recover lost revenue from advertisements and to be more fair to average use institutions. UC's cost with the new pricing model was ten times what UC libraries spent on AAAS print journals in 1999.

To put this in perspective, a similar letter from AAAS in 2002 cited membership losses as the incentive for a new pricing model and resulted in an 80 percent price increase to UC. The cumulative effect in 2004 of those two AAAS price increases was a tripling of UC costs over 2002. In 2006, the subscription price of Science Online increased again by 11%, more than twice the rate of most other publishers.

While AAAS has moderated price increases since that time, these exceptional price increases have never been rolled back or, indeed, fully justified to the CDL's satisfaction.

In addition, AAAS continues a policy unique in the industry of charging a supplemental fee for access to 'as soon as publishable' articles under the rubric Science Express. Virtually all other publishers today consider early publication to be a normal feature of the online publishing environment. For research-intensive universities, many of which already pay a higher, usage-based licensing fee for access to Science, the additional surcharge for Science Express amounts to a further tax on access to cutting-edge research. The CDL encourages AAAS to abandon this fee.

Due to these pricing policies, UC librarians are reluctant to license additional AAAS titles or products.

American Geophysical Union (AGU) (2003)
STATUS: Resolved and licensed in 2004.

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) announced its institutional pricing and policies for institutions earlier this year to an eager audience. The pricing models (based on numbers of doctorates awarded by each campus) for electronic access alone result in costs more than twice current expenditures by UC libraries on print versions of the journals and there are no discounts on print subscriptions. Some major institutions with significant geology programs immediately announced they would not license AGU journals at these prices. The CDL communicated to the AGU disappointment with the pricing but continued to pursue other essential requirements (e.g., verifying that the content is complete, investigating mechanisms for linking at the article level to indexes). AGU has now agreed that UC could sign a single license for all campuses.

American Psychological Association - PsycArticles (2003)
STATUS: Resolved and licensed in 2004.

Systemwide licensing of American Psychological Association (APA) journals has been a CDL priority almost since its inception. In order to meet user needs and to facilitate transitions in our campus libraries from print to digital resources, completeness of content--i.e., digital content that matches its surrogate in print--remains a critical requirement of the CDL licensing program. The APA launched PsycArticles about a year ago and the CDL has been in frequent communication with APA about this collection. The annual cost of providing access to PsycArticles for the University of California is expected to be more than twice what the UC libraries expend on the APA journals in print.

However, a primary barrier to immediate licensing of PsycArticles was that this collection does not fully replicate the content in the 42 journals it represents, nor can these journals be accessed at the title, issue, and article level from outside the collection (e.g., from lists of e journals on library web sites, from the University's PsycInfo, Current Contents indexes, etc.). We have urged the APA to consider offering electronic versions of their journals and are hopeful that they, listening to the University of California as well as other institutions, are working on this. Some major institutions have licensed PsycArticles and report additional problems such as lack of PDF versions of articles.

APA has apparently listened and has announced on its web site that all editorial and administrative material "will be added in the future." CDL will test the performance, completeness of content, and linking capabilities (at the title, issue, article level) on one or more platforms on which PsycArticles is expected to be available before determining whether, given current budget constraints, the electronic premium is affordable.

Cell Press (Elsevier) (2003)
STATUS: Resolved and licensed in 2004 with Science Direct.

Although widely held in all UC campus libraries, sometimes in multiple copies, Cell Press titles were identified as a priority for systemwide licensing as early as 1998. CDL negotiations at that time did not yield an acceptable business model. Since acquired by Elsevier ScienceDirect, Cell Press business terms remain outside the Elsevier package that the University has licensed. Because Cell Press relies heavily on individual subscriptions, its institutional prices have reflected expected loss of these subscriptions and are determined, apparently, on a case-by-case basis.

The UC libraries expressed willingness to consider a quote for systemwide access to the five Cell Press titles that is roughly two and one-half times greater than the collective expenditures on print, subject to the opportunity to verify that the personal subscriptions upon which the quote is based are those of UC individuals Unfortunately, Elsevier will not, after repeated requests over several months, supply this information. It is impossible to validate the assumptions of potential individual subscription loss with no information on how the numbers are derived. In checking with other libraries we have found some prominent institutions resisting licensing Cell Press titles for similar reasons.

Informa Healthcare Journals (2010)
STATUS: Package cancelled in 2011.

After months of systemwide analysis and discussion, the UC Libraries ten-campus Collection Development Committee has decided to cancel the Informa Healthcare (IHC) systemwide license as of January 1, 2011. There were three important principles that led to the IHC decision.

Library budgets and the University Librarians mandate to reduce systemwide expenditures.

In response to the University severe budget challenges, the University Librarians established a goal in 2009 of a 15% reduction in systemwide spend. CDL and the campus libraries have worked extremely hard during the last two fiscal years to reduce or stabilize expenditures in order to meet this goal, but we have not yet achieved this target. Although many publishers have been willing to work with CDL during this difficult economic time, in the upcoming third fiscal year of deep cuts to UC library budgets, it is now very difficult to realize any cost savings other than through outright cancellation of journals and databases.

The use of clear value metrics to ensure fiscally responsible decision-making.

CDL has pioneered the application of objective, multi-factored metrics to determine the value of our systemwide journal licenses. All the major e-journal contracts have been thoroughly analyzed and the data have been used in discussions with publishers to restructure or realign cost to value. Early value metrics included third-party data such as ISI impact factors and the Bergstrom-McAfee relative cost index. More recently, CDL has developed algorithms that combine these measures with UC-centric metrics such as aggregated usage, UC citation behavior, and average cost per use and per impact, normalized by broad subject disciplines across all systemwide journal packages. We have used these metrics to compare the value of both individual journals and entire publisher packages. Based on this algorithm, the IHC package was determined to have poor value compared to other health sciences titles across the system. For example, the highest-used IHC title had comparable usage to the lowest-used titles in all other health sciences collections. In addition, the medical and healthcare subjects in the IHC package are covered in other journal packages with higher value metrics. Given the reality of declining library budgets, the IHC package rose to the top of the list in 2010 as the most likely package to be cancelled based on our objective metrics evaluation. In December 2010, the campus collection officers and life sciences bibliographers reviewed these data and confirmed the CDLs assessment.

The need for sustainable pricing models within the scholarly publishing industry.

Publisher pricing models continue to evolve. CDL was notified in November 2010 by IHC that the UC system would be charged a new multi-site fee beginning in January. This new fee would have resulted in a 50% increase in UCs cost in 2011. CDL and the UC community are committed to working with scholarly publishers to develop pricing and business models that work for both libraries and publishers. Arbitrary and unrealistic pricing actions by publishers must be discouraged and refused at all costs, particularly when budgets are declining and value metrics demonstrate that the publishers content has poor value. Although all cancellation decisions are difficult, based on the three principles above, a systemwide decision to cancel the Informa Healthcare journal license represented the best fiscal approach in these challenging times.

More information is at Informa Healthcare Journals (2011).

MDL/Crossfire Licensing (Elsevier) (2003)
STATUS: Resolved and licensed in 2005.

Systemwide licensing of MDL s Crossfire product has been a priority since it first came on the market. Crossfire includes over eight million chemical compounds, nine million reactions and thirty five million associated chemical property and bioactivity records as well as reviews of academic research. UC has engaged in negotiations for over a year in an effort to acquire this product as a service to the campus community including chemistry undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. While a number of issues have been resolved, we have not come to agreement with MDL on the Authorized User clause that sets out who may access the database. Unfortunately, even after repeated discussions, MDL continues to take a position that is neither acceptable nor practical in a publicly-funded academic university environment that is, prohibiting access to the product to in-house library users otherwise known as walk-in or community users. Such users typically access electronic library resources at workstations located within public, unrestricted areas of the library. Significant among these users are UC undergraduate students who might not have any other venue for accessing these materials.

The California Digital Library has successfully negotiated over seventy license agreements, including with MDL s parent company, Elsevier Science, Inc., which provide for seamless access for the UC community regardless of location and for in-house library users. This is the first instance the CDL has encountered in which a vendor been unwilling to craft a compromise on the Authorized User issue that accommodates the practical service needs of the UC campus libraries.

Exacerbating this situation is the fact that four of the nine campus libraries (UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego) have existing agreements with MDL for a similar product where such proposed user and usage restrictions are not in effect. Significantly, MDL reports that no problems have been reported or identified related to the Authorized Users clause for the past seven years in which these agreements have been in existence.

For MDL to pursue the academic market they should allow the type of access that ensures that none of our primary users in this case, undergraduates are disadvantaged. It is the hope of the CDL and the campus libraries that our ongoing efforts to acquire this product will be successful and that MDL will ultimately agree that our mutual long-term interests can be met by MDL providing appropriate licenses for academic access and use.

Nature (2012)
STATUS: After successful negotiations, new Nature journals were licensed and made available as of January 2014.

For the most recent statement on the dispute with Nature Publishing Group, see our separate information page at http://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/npg/. In 2001, NPG appeared on the Challenges to Licensing webpage for a number of issues that were ultimately resolved (see archival link below). In 2009, three issues prompted serious renewed concerns with NPG's licensing policies. Although UC concerns about unsustainable pricing are in temporary abeyance while discussions between UC and NPG are ongoing (see the above update), we continue to be concerned about the long-term implications of these issues:
Lack of sustainable long-term pricing

In 2008, CDL was pleased to negotiate what we believed to be a stable pricing agreement with Nature Publishing Group for both Nature and its companion titles following several years of extremely steep price increases (for example, in 2007 UC's proposed cost for Nature increased by 65% - after significant negotiation, the increase was reduced to 54% - far exceeding the rates published by NPG on its website).

Dishearteningly, in 2009 Nature informed the CDL that it again planned to sharply raise licensing fees for the University of California Libraries, this time by as much as 300% beginning in 2011 - an order of magnitude amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Excessive price increase for Scientific American

Nature Publishing Group recently acquired Scientific American from its sister company at the Holtzbrinck group. With this change in management, the cost of UC's online site license would have been more than twice the fee currently charged for systemwide access. It is worth noting that this fee represented a 'discounted' offer: the list price quoted to the CDL was well over five times our current cost. The price of an institutional print subscription also increased more than seven-fold.

There was no plausible justification for raising online licensing fees for Scientific American to such exorbitant levels. As has been pointed out by others (see for example the Open Letter from the Oberlin Group libraries at http://www.oberlingroup.org/open-letter-scientific-american-oberlin-group-library-directors ), pricing a general interest periodical such as Scientific American at such levels is unreasonable and unlikely to be considered a fiscally responsible investment by many libraries.

For this reason, the University of California Libraries unanimously decided to cancel an online license to Scientific American upon expiration of the subscription in May 2010. Campus libraries are happy to work with faculty and students to identify alternative high-quality sources of scientific news reporting and analysis.

Loss of perpetual rights and cost increases for transferring titles such as Polymer Journal (published on behalf of the Society of Polymer Science, Japan).

UC lost access to the 2006-2009 archive of Polymer Journal in 2010 when the content moved to nature.com unless we signed a site license with NPG. These years were formerly available on J-Stage, which is now maintained as a closed file through 2005 only. Campuses expected more than a doubling of the print or e-only pricing.
Given these concerns about Nature's pricing policies, the UC Libraries are not currently licensing the online versions of new Nature journals.
Members of the UC community who share our pricing concerns may wish to write to the publisher directly to express their views. Communications may be addressed to Steven Inchcoombe, Managing Director, Nature Publishing Group, London at exec@Nature.com and shared with Ivy Anderson, CDL Director of Collections and the University Librarian at your campus.

Nature Publishing Group (2007)

Once again the CDL finds it necessary to feature Nature on its Challenges to Licensing web page. Three issues have prompted renewed concerns in 2007:
Unsustainable long-term pricing

UC experienced a 65% increase in the cost for Nature in 2007.

Lack of full disclosure of how Nature calculates pricing

Confidentiality provisions in Nature license agreements

These provisions prevent open discussion of the pricing model with other library colleagues and even within the UC community. An update is also provided on our previous concerns about perpetual rights.

Pricing and Confidentiality Concerns

In 2007, Nature changed its pricing, resulting in dramatic increases for many customers including those with the highest use such as UC. CDL’s actual costs for Nature increased by 65% in 2007, far exceeding the rates published by Nature on its website. There was little explanation of the basis for the pricing change or the discrepancy with published rates. At the same time, Nature demanded confidentiality language in its license that restricted customers from discussing the prices they were being charged for Nature within the community.

These issues combine to create an environment of distrust surrounding Nature pricing policies and the integrity of its communications with subscribing institutions.

Perpetual Rights Update

After lengthy negotiations, Nature journals were licensed and made available to all UC campuses in 2001. While earlier CDL objections to the Nature institutional model were largely remedied, one major issue remained: lack of perpetual rights and the right to archive subscribed e-journals.

CDL continued discussions, as did many other institutions with similar concerns, and in 2005 Nature responded with site license language that allowed post-cancellation rights to the available archived content with an annual access fee (but without agreeing to rights "in perpetuity"). The policy will apply as far as possible to all journals published by Nature Publishing Group. However, post cancellation rights will not apply to journals that offer open archives after 12 months or to journals owned by scholarly societies that may adopt different policies. The archived content available depends on the start date of licensing; access to all archive content back to 1997 is automatically included in the subscription fee for subscriptions entered in 2006 or earlier, while subscriptions begun in 2007 or later will offer a more limited window of archival access with the ability to purchase further back years at additional cost. Access fees had not yet been determined as of this writing, but Nature claims they will be competitive with the market. Annual access fees are not imposed as long as a current subscription to the relevant title remains in force.

The current policies address CDL’s principal concerns with respect to long-term access, but we remain uncomfortable with Nature’s unwillingness to identify these rights as perpetual. In addition, while Nature offers an archival copy on a physical medium under appropriate circumstances, the terms affecting such copies remain unclear. It remains a CDL priority to secure perpetual rights to all the Nature resources the UC system has acquired since 2001.
Given these concerns, adding future Nature Publishing Group titles to CDL or campus licenses is discouraged at this time.

Nature and licensing of digital version (2001)
STATUS: After successful negotiations, Nature journals were licensed and made available as of November 2001.

July 26, 2001

Licensing in digital form remains a top priority for the CDL. Our objections to the Nature institutional model have been largely remedied, the pricing is now reasonable, and CDL and campus library funds have been identified to support the license. I am hopeful that licensing terms can be resolved in time to make Nature and Nature monthlies available by fall.

The major unresolved licensing issue is:
Perpetual ownership/right to archive. The UC libraries collectively believe that, for the substantial investments we make in content and in order to serve future scholars, the rights to own what has been purchased/licensed in digital format are essential. Nature may change hands, Nature may be archived by a third party, and UC does not expect to pay repeatedly for the same content. UC should have the rights to archive the digital content it has purchased.
This is a principle that is important to other research libraries as well and I am hopeful that Nature Publishing Co. is reviewing and well change this policy in the near future.

Beverlee A. French
Associate University Librarian
Director, Shared Content
California Digital Library
University of California

Taylor & Francis (Routledge/Carfax/Brunner/Mazel/Psychology Press/Gordon & Breach)(2005)
STATUS: Resolved and licensed in 2007; consortial package cancelled in 2013.

Digital access to the 750 titles now published by Taylor & Francis (T&F) is free with print subscriptions. With half the titles continuing to show subscription growth, including recent growth within UC, Taylor & Francis does not, certainly not in 2003, offer "cross access" to groups of libraries. T&F does offer individual libraries incentives for acquiring new subscriptions at low and uniform cost in 2003 in exchange for commitments to maintain existing expenditures. The all campus UC Collection Development Committee recommends that the CDL and campus libraries pursue actions that will encourage Taylor & Francis to consider electronic licensing for the University of California as a whole.

Last updated: January 17, 2017
Document owner: Ivy Anderson