The Rights Registry: learning, sharing and growing

Work has been continuing on the SafeNet Rights Registry, with the database now containing entries for 178 publishers. Some of these publisher entries contain information on more than one policy, for example the NESLi2 publishers. We have just started testing the registry with libraries and the feedback has been very positive.

Photograph of seedlings

Seedling. Kevin Doncaster, 2016. Available via Flickr – Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Finding Information on Publisher Policies

Around 370 publishers have been identified from a number of sources, including:

  • Publishers of journals which an (anonymised) UK university subscribes to. (Many of these titles are part of ‘big deals’ offered by larger publishers.)
  • Publishers found in consortial directories of publishers and suppliers, such as that of CEIRC (CAUL Electronic Information Resources Consortium) and the UC San Diego Library California Digital Library
  • List of STM members
  • List of Hinari publishers
  • Publishers participating in CLOCKSS
  • Publishers registered with the NISO SERU Initiative

In many cases, it has proved difficult to find policy statements on continuing and post-cancellation access on publisher’s websites. When this information is identified it is nearly always a very general statement that does not map onto our vocabulary in the Rights Registry, especially with regards to mechanisms allowed and any costs to be incurred by the licensee. In some instances, the publisher website contains no information at all on terms and conditions of use of subscribed content.

In general, PCA policy information is found in the ‘information for librarians’ section of the website, either in the actual institutional site licenses/license agreement documents or in terms and conditions of use. It is interesting to note that in some cases PCA and archiving information does not appear in the license agreement or on the terms and conditions page itself, but on a separate page elsewhere on the website.

In order for a PCA policy to be actionable, as well as being up-to-date it needs to be explicit and not just implied. When trying to populate the registry it is clear to see how vital it is to contact publishers in order to clarify their policies. This echoes what libraries themselves are needing to do. The NESLi2 licenses continue to be the most detailed and specific, certainly when it comes to PCA policy.

Contacting Publishers

As a first step to address this, we have drafted a post-cancellation access policy document to ask publishers to specify their arrangements. This draft form is based on the Rights Registry database structure: our objective is to test if publishers will engage with this level of detail.

An image of the draft SafeNet Rights Registry post-cancellation policy document (April 2016) which is sent to publishers.

The draft SafeNet Rights Registry Publisher Post-Cancellation Policy Criteria Document, April 2016.

We have emailed some of the publishers where we cannot find PCA information, so as to briefly introduce SafeNet and the Rights Registry and to ask where we could find information on their PCA policies. It will be interesting to assess the extent to which publishers have fully formed PCA policies and if they are willing to specify them. In a future blog post we will report on our conversations and progress.

Next Steps

We will be continuing to identify publishers to add to the Rights Registry and to contact them to clarify their policies. We will also continue to refine the draft criteria form we are requesting publishers fill in, so as to make it as clear and productive as possible. Feedback from publishers plays a very important part in shaping this.

Currently, we have provided access to the initial Rights Registry to a limited number of library colleagues who are providing invaluable feedback, especially on the areas of vocabulary and fields used and data recorded. We now plan to share the registry with other interested parties. Your participation and feedback is welcomed. Please get in touch at if you would like to get involved. It is inevitable that we will need to make changes as we discover the nature of PCA information and learn what and how this information needs to be recorded.

By The Way …

If you were at the UKSG conference in April this year you may have seen Adam’s lightning talk on SafeNet. If you missed it or would like to see it again there is a video of the presentation available: SafeNet: improving the provision of post-cancellation access

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