The role of subscription agents


Subject: The role of subscription agents
From: John Sumsion (J.W.Sumsion@lboro.ac.uk )
Date: ke 17 heinš† 1996 - 15:11:49 EEST


Emanuella Giavarra wrote:
> What role will be left for the reproduction rights organisations or other
> collecting societies?

And Robert Fisher wrote:
> In a sense the subscription agents maybe a way to avoid the problems of
> kartel and competition legislation with standard contracts. If these
> contracts would be more or less pre-scribed by a single collecting society
> (in each Member State) it would probably be against competition rules...

 Jamie Wodetzki's short answer to Emanuella's question is: " who cares? It
would be a big mistake for us to assume that every existing player must be
allocated a
position in the new game".

                                                ______________

Authors and organisers of knowledge care - and that is important.

But there is in practice a further dimension which has to be recognised.
Subscription agents typically deal with the Research situation and Journal
articles where the demand is typically a set of one offs. Collecting
Societies are involved with the Teaching situation where the demand is for
multiple copies of extracts from standard or advanced text books. There
will be opportunities for the electronic delivery of text of both types.
But, while the media of transmission and downloading techniques may be
virtually identical, the economic and bibliographic features are quite
distinct.

On the Journal side authors do not usually get paid and there is the
prospect of print + electronic delivery for some years to come. [The 'site
licence' model of parallel distribution complicates the statistics horribly
but has got lots of practical and economic advantages.] Moreover the
provision of bibliographic searching is vital through Abstracting services,
etc. and there are possibilities here for convergence.

On the Textbook/Teaching side authors' remuneration is substantial but the
Search aspect is negligable. Multiple copies [or multiple screens] are the
principal feature.

I suppose for completeness in setting out the main models one should add a
third: the Reference works - whether in form of encylcopedia/directory or
database.

But my point is simply that it will be helpful if discussion of legal and
economic issues distinguishes carefully between these fundamentally
different product ranges.

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* J.W.Sumsion *
* Director *
* Library & Information Statistics Unit (LISU) *
* Loughborough University *
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