Does a model for machine-readable licences continue to have a role in an Open Access future?


Getting on for a decade ago, Digital Library Federation’s Electronic Resource Management Initiative (ERMI) identified a need for machine-interpretable expressions of the licences issued by publishers for the use of electronic resources in libraries. The sheer number and variety of licences for e-resources which were in use made it impossible for anyone to know (at the point of use) the terms under which a particular resource was available, and whether it could therefore be used in a given context. This was very different from the historic situation with physical resources where the terms of use were essentially uniform, governed by law rather than by licence, and generally understood and respected by librarians and library patrons alike.