Controlling Goods or Promoting the Public Good: Choices for Special Collections in the Marketplace

Michelle Light


For the past few decades, many special collections repositories in the United States have charged licensing or use fees to those patrons who use or publish special collections materials for commercial purposes. In fact, about fifteen years ago the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries charged an ad hoc committee, the Licensing and Reproductions of Special Collections Committee, to “create a reasoned and articulate defense of libraries’ right to charge licensing fees for commercial uses of their materials.”2 The Committee noted that, historically, libraries allowed scholars to publish freely from the content they . . .

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