Introducing a New Copyright Tool for Licensed Use

November 11, 2014
Licensed Use Search Tool

With launch of the new Licensed Use Search tool this week, Western Libraries has further simplified the copyright process for the Western community. By providing a way to easily determine uses specified in the many licences for digital journals and e-books that the library negotiates for the university, the Licensed Use Search tool has made the third step in Western’s Copyright Decision MapDoes permission exist in the form of a licence? - even more effortless.

The tool merely requires searchers to enter the title of the journal or e-book that contains the material to be copied and click through to the corresponding library catalogue record. It is often the case that individual journals or e-books can be accessed from multiple resource packages or databases. The licensed use terms may not be consistent across all of them; what is permissible in one may not be in another. The library catalogue record however comprehensively lists all sources for particular electronic journals and e-books available to the Western community and now provides a Licensed Use access point for each. This link, in turn, retrieves a table giving information for various ‘dealings’:

Yes when the particular use is sanctioned by the licence,

No when the licence explicitly prohibits the use, or

Ask when the licence is silent or unclear concerning the use.

The Licensed Use Search tool is part of Western’s broader Copyright Literacy initiative and the result of a project managed by Western Libraries’ Information Resources Management (LIRM). Dedicated staff systematically examined the contracts of over 750 resource packages and databases in order to determine uses sanctioned by the licence. This information was subsequently added to a locally managed database derived from a similar resource in use in our colleague universities across Ontario. The Libraries’ Information Technology Services (LITS) was also instrumental in development of this new searching tool.

We’re launching the Licensed Use Search tool at a point in the project following the first pass through the alphabetical list of licences. Currently, the number of access points to licensed use information for journals and e-books now totals well over 386,000. This represents about 75% of Westerns licensed content, both e-books and electronic journals many of which as mentioned earlier, can be accessed in multiple licensed packages. The receipt of licensed use information is virtually guaranteed for the majority of searches. Of course if the Licensed Use link happens to be absent for your particular e-title or you have any questions please contact

The project itself continues to the end of the year with the inevitable clean up and addition of licensed use information for resource packages included in the library catalogue that are not explicitly licensed, those on open access platforms for example. The goal is a single place to find licensed use information for the complete collection of electronic books and journals available through the Western Libraries catalogue in order to make the copyright process more straightforward and easier for the campus community.

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