Income models for Open Access: Convenience-format Licensing

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Open-access publishers that control significant bodies of content may be able to generate additional revenue by licensing content to third-party information aggregators and distributors. Although an open-access journal’s content might be governed by a Creative Commons non-commercial license, the publisher might make the content available for commercial distribution under a separate license. For example, a publisher of a law journal can make its content available Open Access while licensing the content for distribution to law firms and corporate legal offices via online legal content aggregators.

Some journal content may lend itself to repurposing for commercial licensing. For example, a publisher of scientific journals might license its content to a legal information service, which could provide access to the content for use in patent prior-art searches. Providing the data in a single file—either as is or in a distributor-determined standard format—could deliver convenience value to the aggregator. For their part, the aggregator’s customers would perceive value in having convenient access to relevant content they would otherwise have to discover on their own (a convenience for which corporate or professional users may be willing to pay the aggregator, even when the same content is accessible via Open Access). With the right content and the right aggregator, a journal publisher could realize significant convenience fees.

While many small publishers may not control sufficient content to justify this model, they might collaborate with other publishers of similar content to aggregate files and offer them to specialized distributors.

3.4.1 Convenience-Format License Examples

Most of the journals that have signed on to the Science Commons Open Access Law Journal Principles () also license their content to LEXISNEXIS and/or WestLaw.

When commenting on this page, please detail your experience with the model in question. The comment area is moderated and reserved for evidence- or experience-based discussion and requests for support in experimenting with different approaches.

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