Owning, Licensing, and Sharing Digital Content

Virtual Conference


The lines are being drawn for the next “big thing.” What are the appropriate privileges for handling digital content? How should we think about the uses of and rights associated with digital assets? Users are understandably baffled when, having been “sold” an ebook, they subsequently discover they only have a limited form of access — it doesn’t “belong” to them in the traditional sense at all. Is it time to renegotiate the parameters laid down for licensing content and lending practices? If so, whose rights and whose practices will be affected? This interactive virtual conference will feature a variety of stakeholders (including attendees) discussing the needs and the challenges of owning, licensing and sharing digital materials.

Confirmed speakers for this event include: 

  • Brewster Kahle, Founder and Digital Librarian, Internet Archive;
  • Joan Lindsay, Information Technologists, Michigan State University;
  • Jill Morris, Executive Director, PALCI; 
  • Brian O'Leary, Executive Director, BISG. 
  • Erin Weller, Head of Access Services, Michigan State University
  • Nancy Sims, Copyright Program Librarian, University of Minnesota;

Background Reading

Resources Referenced During the Event:

Event Sessions

12:00 - 12:15 Welcome


12:15 - 12:45 Current Parameters for Licensing and Circulating Digital Content


Nancy Sims

Director of Copyright & Scholarly Communication
University of Minnesota

Roughly speaking, the legal bounds of what libraries can do with materials in our collections are set by both statutory law and the contracts and licenses we agree to with vendors. This session will outline some of those legal constraints, but will also explore how our choices and actions within libraries - such as negotiating contracts, enforcing contracts, and strategically challenging laws - can affect the state of both our contractual obligations and statutory law, and provide better access for our users.

Note: Nancy referenced the following resource during her talk:

There is a great overview of the Georgia State University case by Laura Burtle at GSU - https://libguides.law.gsu.edu/gsucopyrightcase

12:45 - 1:15 “Buying” the digital asset: Publisher Support for Perpetual Access


Over the past two decades, books have moved from the realm of physical objects, occasionally digitized, to digital objects, occasionally rendered to print. The shift has altered both the reality and the perception of what we can do with books as part of a public discourse. Publishers are asked to provide access in perpetuity, at times in multiple ways, a default that at times runs contrary to the contracts established for the use of these works. In this session, we’ll consider questions about what makes up perpetual access, the obligations and issues that access presents for publishers and libraries, and ways that we might move forward to both recognize the investment and support a broader discourse.

1:15 - 1:45 Supporting A Digital Sharing Ecosystem: Consortial Approaches to Owning, Licensing & Sharing Digital Content


Academic libraries' sharing ecosystems have long provided necessary efficiencies and access to information at a level that was impossible for any single institution to accomplish on its own, even for the largest and most well-funded among us. But as collections have become increasingly electronic in nature, and as higher education budgets have tightened, consortial sharing ecosystems are being disrupted, heavily constrained by digital content licensing terms, technologies and other restrictions. Now firmly in the midst of a transition from print to electronic holdings, expedited further by the challenges of a worldwide pandemic, where does this leave resource sharing consortia that were conceived of in order to support adequate access to information for institutions with diverse needs through collective collections and the sharing of library materials? In this session, we'll discuss the PALCI consortium's strategies and tactics for eBook acquisitions that support a transition to a digital sharing environment, as well as identify the remaining gaps that exist, and new approaches currently being explored.

1:45 - 2:00 Comfort Break

2:00 - 2:30 Live Discussion, Zoom Break-Out Room

2:30 - 2:45 Summarize and Report Back

2:45 - 3:15 Case Study on Implementation of CDL


When the pandemic forced Michigan State University to move all classes online, the libraries were faced with an urgency in finding a solution that would give students access to Course Reserves. In this presentation you will hear about MSU’s journey in establishing Controlled Digital Lending for Course Reserves. This session will cover MSU’s preliminary planning, set up, speed bumps and successes.

3:15 - 3:30 Streaming The Book


We have a common goal, and are experimenting with ways to get there in our digital world: how do we create and publish, as in "make public," the best people have created and serve everyone who is interested.  And do this in a way that continues into the future.

The success of open access, such as Wikipedia, Arxiv, and PLOS show that a large number of people will contribute to and learn from quality materials, not just those in institutional settings.  

Open access can bring the historical record and current works to an interested broad public, but it leaves the question of compensation.  Compensation is not always needed (Wikipedia), is sometimes accomplished through sponsorships (scholarly research), and sometimes from restrictions on access (Kindle purchases, Netflix, Libraries).

What are our options?  How does a free library, like the Internet Archive, and Controlled Digital Lending help further this evolution?

If we continue to get this wrong, then the broad public will continue to not have access to the best humankind has created.

3:30 - 4:00 Interview between Brewster Kahle and Todd Carpenter


Additional Information

NISO assumes organizations register as a group. The model assumes that an unlimited number of staff will be watching the live broadcast in a single location, but also includes access to an archived recording of the event for those who may have timing conflicts. 

NISO understands that, during the current pandemic, staff at a number of organizations may be practicing safe social distancing or working remotely. To accommodate those workers, we are allowing registrants to share the sign-on instructions with all colleagues so that they may join the broadcast directly, irrespective of their geographical location. 

Registrants receive sign-on instructions via email on the Friday prior to the virtual event. If you have not received your instructions by the day before an event, please contact NISO headquarters for assistance via email (nisohq@niso.org). 

Registrants for an event may cancel participation and receive a refund (less $35.00) if the notice of cancellation is received at NISO HQ (nisohq@niso.org) one full week prior to the event date. If received less than 7 days before, no refund will be provided. 

Links to the archived recording of the broadcast are distributed to registrants 24-48 hours following the close of the live event. Access to that recording is intended for internal use of fellow staff at the registrant’s organization or institution. Speaker presentations are posted to the NISO event page.

Broadcast Platform

NISO uses the Zoom platform for purposes of broadcasting our live events. Zoom provides apps for a variety of computing devices (tablets, laptops, etc.) To view the broadcast, you will need a device that supports the Zoom app. Attendees may also choose to listen just to audio on their phones. Sign-on credentials include the necessary dial-in numbers, if that is your preference. Once notified of their availability, recordings may be downloaded from the Zoom platform to your machine for local viewing.