Every Article in Entire Journal

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  • I am a medical librarian and have been sending the table of contents of one of the ___ Clinics of North America series to one of our doctors. It is a hardcover journal that comes out several times a year. We no longer get this in print but our institution does have full text access to it through the database MD Consult. The doctor just enthusiastically called me and said he wanted full text every article (sans contributors page, contents, etc) in the February issue. That's about 20 articles. I believe I have a copyright problem here and that I cannot fill this request because forwarding those articles via email or printing them off would constitute a substantial part (read nearly whole) amount of the work that is brand new.

    I don't think it would be right to get the articles to him slowly over time. I don't think he will settle for just a few, as all of the articles pertain to his exact practice.

    I could suggest he purchase it -- $94. Any other ideas? Please confirm if this can / cannot be done.

    Thank you.
  • You could send him the links to the database, if it has stable links, or show him how to get to them easily. Then HE can print them all off or save them to his computer. He can do that; the library shouldn't, according to the rule of five.
  • Thank you for your reply. He has no access to this database at his location; I cannot send him links.

    As this stands, is it against copyright law to provide him with every article?
  • Hm. Your library DOES legally own the material, right? Or at least you are a subscriber to a database containing it. And he is a legitimate patron of your library? I think you might treat him the way we treat our overseas students, then, with relative safety, and provide him with PDFs of the items. To be really safe, I'd post them on a secure server where he can download them, and remove them after a week or two, so they aren't going by email.
  • Having worked with medical libraries in University settings, I have seen cases where the described scenario may or may not be problematic. If your medical library is part of a University where the doctor is on the faculty, he would be as legitimate a user as any other faculty member and his access should be the same as for other faculty members. If the database vendor allows other faculty member remote access, then the doctor should be granted the same access. If the database vendor limits access only within the Library, then the doctor would have to use the database on site.

    The question of whether the doctor is a bona fide user with all access rights in the eyes of the database vendor is a muddy one. Many medical schools today rely on doctors in the community to supervise students in a clinical setting, and their policies need to reflect the faculty status of those doctors. This is a matter of institutional policy not copyright law, but the policy should cover whether the doctor is considered part of the primary clientele which the medical library represents as the authorized userbase in negotiations with the database vendor.

    If the doctor does not fall into the category of authorized users as negotiated with the database vendor, it sounds like the solution suggested by Janet could be in violation of the database contract, in addition to being a copyright infringement. I believe that this reasoning would also apply for a scenario where articles are sent to him, whether in print or in PDF.

    In sum, the approach you take should depend on whether the doctor is an authorized user of the MD Consult database according to the Library's contract with the vendor. If he is, then there should be no problem giving him access to the articles. If he is not, then directly providing him these articles sounds like a violation of the contract.

    If he is not an authorized user, perhaps he could submit an ILL request through his own library (at the hospital? or the public library?) and then you could fill the request, subject to the terms and limits of Section 108.
  • Interesting, GClement -- I wasn't aware of how muddy the situation could be about whether doctors actually BELONG to a particular institution. But you are right, the contract and the institution working together should define who is an authorized user, and if he's not, then he should have a home library somewhere along the way who can ILL. At that point it becomes the borrowing library's responsibility to decide if they are willing to go over the "suggestion of five" articles from one journal or not.

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