I eagerly clicked through to the BASP holdings (actually served up by the University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service) . I found that, yes, all but the two most recent issues are available as page images (not online fulltext, but raw text can be downloaded from the “bookbag”).
I salute the appearance of this resource; however, I’m troubled by the absence of a license statement. What am I allowed to do with these documents? Can I copy them to give to students? Can I put them into my institution’s digital repository?
The site-wide “text access policy” is somewhat less than enlightening:
The help page for the “holdings display” presents a non-BASP example in which there is a full statement of “availability.” No such statements accompany the BASP articles I put in my bookbag.
Dear editors of BASP: thanks for making this resource available online. Please clarify the rights and licensing for us, and make this information part of the metadata records associated with the online version.
Dear UMDL and UMich Scholarly Publishing Office Management: thanks for this valuable suite of services and tools. Is licensing and availability left solely to the discretion of contributors with no business rules to prevent surfacing of content that lacks an availability statement? If so, it would be very helpful to see an explanation of this policy replacing the “coming soon” notice pointed out above, or — better yet — incorporated in some basic but ubiquitous form throughout the interface.
It is actually hard to find online a good primer on why rights and licenses are important things to address when placing content online. For the moment, I’ll just cite the following …
The NISO Framework Advisory Group’s A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections (2nd edition, 2004) is endorsed by the Digital Library Federation (of which the University of Michigan is a member). The framework clearly states (emphasis mine):
Collections principle 5: A good collection respects intellectual property rights. Collection managers should maintain a consistent record of rightsholders and permissions granted for all applicable materials.
Intellectual property law must be considered from several points of view: what rights the owners of the original source materials retain in their materials, what rights or permissions the collection developers have to digitize content and make it available, what rights collection owners have in their digital content, and what rights or permissions the users of the digital collection have to make subsequent use of the materials.