Perpetual Access to Electronic Journals: A Survey of One Academic Research Library's Licenses
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A perpetual access right to an electronic journal, defined as the right to permanently access licensed materials paid for during the period of a license agreement (not to be confused with the right to copy journal content solely for preservation purposes), is a concern of increasing importance to librarians as academic libraries discontinue paper subscriptions and retain electronic-only access. This paper explores the current environment for perpetual access to electronic journals. The authors report on analysis of the contracts between a large, research-level university library and 40 publishers of electronic journals, as well as ten large electronic journal aggregators. The authors seek to determine the frequency of contractual provisions for permanent access rights for the years of active subscription in the event an electronic journal contract is terminated for any cause other than breach by the licensee. Costs and formats of any granted perpetual access are considered. The paper concludes with an exploration of the potential impact of the perpetual access clauses libraries are accepting in licenses, the possible lack of continuing access, and options for addressing the situation.