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J Med Libr Assoc. 2010 October; 98(4): 313.
PMCID: PMC2947141

Content Licensing: Buying and Selling Digital Resources

Reviewed by Vicki Harden, MLIS, AHIP

Michael Upshall 
Content Licensing: Buying and Selling Digital Resources.
Oxford, UK: Chandos Publishing. 2009. (Chandos Series on Publishing.) 240 p. $95.00. ISBN: 978-1-84334-333-2. http://www.licensingcontent.co.uk/

Active in publishing for more than twenty years, Michael Upshall has been very involved in the move to electronic publishing and the content licensing arena. As publisher of the United Kingdom's first online encyclopedia, The Hutchinson Encyclopedia, he understands the pros and cons of the different digital resources, whether databases, journals and their articles, e-books, or other resources, as well as aggregators and distributors of those products. In Content Licensing, he helps the reader understand what is involved in licensing digital resources. This book is useful for those who produce, license, and use electronic content. This includes creators of the content, rights owners, vendors, aggregators, software solution providers, and ultimately, customers. Librarians who help produce electronic content for their institutions or those struggling with electronic copyright issues will find helpful topics throughout Content Licensing.

The electronic licensing process is well covered. The author shows the steps needed from production in any market, to the specifics needed for content licensing in the digital market, through to the customer's purchase of the product. This process begins with creating the content, identifying the market, taking steps to license the information, converting it to a usable format, and obtaining all copyright and relevant permissions, and it ends with delivering the final product. Depending on the product that is available and the customer, numerous delivery methods exist. Digital information can be purchased through a secure website, on a CD-ROM, through subscriptions, in downloadable files, or by other means. Upshall then delves into the process of creating and providing the content. He includes a chapter on the technology needed to create and disseminate digital resources. For example, music downloads are handled much differently than medical journals. Delivery can be handled in different ways, such as through really simple syndication (RSS) feeds or podcasting, as well as downloadable portable document format (PDF) or e-book format files. After resources are available for purchase, vendors want to be able to track usage of their products.

Upshall provides good explanations of the different business models used in providing digital resources. Chapter 5, about content licensing business models, is quite informative. Upshall explains the different levels in easy-to-understand terminology without getting bogged down in legal or technical terminology. This reviewer had a better picture of the process after finishing this chapter.

This book goes beyond what is needed to publish digitally. Upshall explains the aggregation process. He devotes a chapter to searching for information by using Google and other search engines. He discusses the copyright process from the producer's and the customer's points of view. The issues involved in copyright are discussed and balanced in a chapter devoted to the topic as well as throughout the book, as different areas of content licensing involve copyright needs and rights.

The case studies Upshall includes in different chapters are quite useful. Studies may show an example of a vendor with certain methods, products, or outcomes from certain decisions and legal interventions that demonstrate Upshall's information.

The table of contents is easy to use. Not only are the chapters listed, but the sections within each chapter are also included. It is easy to locate the smaller sections on electronic rights or fair use in the copyright section. For example, RSS feeds and podcasting sections are quickly visible in the technology section. A separate table lists the images used in the book. Because notes appear at the end of each chapter, the reader can check Upshall's sources close to the sections where they are used. A glossary at the end of the chapters covers the terms Upshall uses throughout. A reference section includes books, websites, and other resources to help the reader learn more about content licensing. An index at the end gives the reader another method of quickly finding desired information.

Content Licensing is excellent for learning the basics of what is needed for the digital resource market. While it delves into the areas necessary for the process, it touches lightly on most processes. This book is not an in-depth, how-to for any of the many steps needed to produce, license, and deliver electronic products. Instead, it is an introduction to what is involved. Upshall has written an easy book for readers to find out what they do not know.


Articles from Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA are provided here courtesy of Medical Library Association