Book Review: Licensing Digital Content: A Practical Guide for Librarians

Title: Licensing Digital Content: A Practical Guide for Librarians
Author: Lesley Ellen Harris
Publisher: American Library Association
Edition: Second
Publication Date: 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8389-0992-8
Pages: 161
Price: $57.00
The author’s stated goal in writing this brief volume is to provide a primer and guide regarding digital licensing issues for librarians and other consumers of digital content. Ms. Harris is also the author of the first edition of this volume. She is a graduate of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in Canada. She is an attorney with a background in intellectual property and served as a researcher at the Canadian Copyright Institute. Additionally, Ms. Harris has been a consultant for approximately twenty years in which time she has taught a variety of courses through her company and associations. Moreover, the author maintains the blog Copyright Questions & Answers (

The bulk of this brief book deals with the mechanics of licensing agreements. A license agreement is a written contract between a user and a content owner. It delineates the terms and conditions of use. The author provides summaries of key and boilerplate clauses in licensing agreements with analysis and tips to improve effective drafting of agreements. This material provides very useful material to assist in drafting digital licensing agreements for both the novice and the intermediate professional. Additional material deals with an approach to the negotiation process to facilitate the creation of the licensing agreement.

While this book is published by the American Library Association, the scope of its content is not intended purely for an American audience. Since digital content and Internet access have world wide breadth, the book is intended to be useful to a broader audience of readers. These include librarians working in variously sized and diverse organizations as well as individuals employed in companies that supply digital content. The book is well worth reading for those interested in an introduction to digital licensing drafting and issues involved with this process. It is a worthy addition to the collections of general and specialized libraries.

Reviewed by Theodore Pollack, Senior Law Librarian, New York County Public Access Law Library

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