WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative—frequently asked questions
The WorldCat Search API terms and conditions will be updated to link to the new WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities policy. This change will result in libraries now having two different situations when accessing bibliographic records as they relate to WorldCat Search API usage:
- For records that your library currently has holdings attached, the WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities would apply. And the WorldCat Search API can be used to provide the full MARC record for any potential user.
- For all other records identifying items not held by the library, the API can still be used for discovery purposes with no change to the current API terms and conditions for these records.
An OCLC member may make normal and customary use of data extracted from WorldCat that represents or enriches the member's own holdings in the member's system(s) and services. Such uses might include loading data into a library catalog, discovery system, library consortium catalog, resource-sharing system or the like for the purposes of supporting discovery of and access to the member's collections, supporting bibliographic verification, inventory control, circulation or supporting private study, teaching, learning, academic or scientific research.
Additional uses of data extracted from WorldCat that represent or enrich the member's own holdings that involve transferring or making the WorldCat data available outside the member's systems or services to another party are discussed below.
Yes. Please note, however that the policy asks that in deploying such transfer and/or redistribution protocols involving WorldCat data, members use them in the context of OCLC member community norms, OCLC’s public purpose and this policy’s intent.
In the context of machine-to-machine transfers of WorldCat data, OCLC member responsibilities include making reasonable efforts to ensure awareness of WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative among those who make subsequent use of that data. If a member becomes aware of machine transfers and subsequent uses of its WorldCat data that are inconsistent with the policy, the member is encouraged to discuss the matter with OCLC (email email@example.com) and/or the organization or individual.
Yes, the member may make available or transfer WorldCat data that represents its own collections to an agent (see policy Glossary); however, the policy asks members to take certain steps.
- OCLC has in place existing agreements with many agents. To transfer or make WorldCat data that represents its own collections available to these agents in connection with the receipt of services from the agents, the OCLC member need only check this list to confirm that the agent has a written agreement with OCLC covering the service(s) the member is to receive.
- If the list does not indicate the existence of such an agreement, and the agent's use of the WorldCat data is limited to performing services contracted for by the OCLC member, the OCLC member library can establish its own agreement with the agent. The policy suggests that the agreement contain language limiting the agent's use of the WorldCat data (see Appendix 1 of the policy).
- When language limiting the agent's use of WorldCat data is not appropriate for the agent's required use of the WorldCat data or acceptable to the agent, the OCLC member should request (email firstname.lastname@example.org) that OCLC approach the agent to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement between the agent and OCLC. The agreement will generally contain terms comparable to those described in Appendix 2 of the policy.
Yes. Please note, however, that the policy asks that in making extracted WorldCat data available or transferring it, members consider such actions and subsequent uses of the transferred WorldCat data (including copying, displaying, publishing, modifying, reformatting and/or creating works or services from) in the context of OCLC member community norms, OCLC’s public purpose and this policy’s intent.
If the scholar requires large amounts of WorldCat data, the scholar may be referred directly to OCLC (email email@example.com) to request access to WorldCat data for the purposes of academic or scientific research. In keeping with its public purposes, OCLC has a long-standing tradition of providing qualified researchers with access to WorldCat data for the purpose of qualified academic or scientific research or study.
To determine the answer, the OCLC member should determine the type of nonmember or agency:
- Is the requestor an individual scholar requesting use for his or her personal academic or scientific research or study, a library consortium (see policy Glossary) or a public agency working on behalf of libraries, or another library, or an educational or cultural or scholarly institution requesting use for its institutional or collaborative re-use ? If yes, grant the request provided the requestor's intended subsequent uses of your data are consistent with OCLC member community norms, OCLC’s public purpose and this policy’s intent.
- Is the requestor an 'agent' (see policy Glossary) that you have retained to provide services to your library? If yes, which case applies?
a. The agent's use of my WorldCat data is limited to what is necessary to perform the services contracted for my institution. If this is the case, grant the request, ensuring either (1) the services to be provided by the agent are covered by an agreement between OCLC and the agent as indicated on OCLC's list of existing agreements or (2) that your agreement with the agent contains language limiting the agent's use of your WorldCat data as suggested in Appendix 1 of the policy.
b. The agent wishes to retain copies of my WorldCat data for the agent's own business purposes, beyond what is necessary to perform the services for me. If this is the case, check OCLC's list of existing agreements and (1) if an agreement with the agent authorizing use for the agent's desired business purpose is listed, grant the request or (2) if such an agreement with the agent is not listed, ask OCLC to approach the agent to propose a mutually acceptable agreement between the agent and OCLC. The agreement will generally contain terms comparable to those described in Appendix 2 of the policy. Please contact OCLC via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Is the requestor another type of organization? If yes, check OCLC's list of existing agreements and (a) if an agreement with the organization authorizing use for the organization's desired business purpose is listed, grant the request or (b) if such an agreement with the organization is not listed, ask OCLC to approach the organization to propose a mutually acceptable agreement between the organization and OCLC. The agreement will generally contain terms comparable to those described in Appendix 2 of the policy. Please contact OCLC via email at email@example.com.
It is impossible to anticipate all of the conceivable uses to which members might want or need to put WorldCat data. OCLC members are encouraged to discuss with OCLC any uses that do not appear to be covered by this policy. You can contact OCLC at firstname.lastname@example.org. If a particular use is determined to not be covered, OCLC and the member will seek a mutually agreeable resolution of the matter.
As stated in the policy Section 2C, "while, on behalf of its members, OCLC claims copyright rights in WorldCat as a compilation, it does not claim copyright ownership of individual records." These rights are based on OCLC's intellectual contribution to WorldCat as a whole, including OCLC's selection, arrangement and coordination of the material in WorldCat. To the extent copyright rights exist in an individual bibliographic record in WorldCat, the copyright rights in the record would vest with the author of the record. Modifications, corrections and enhancements to a record may vest the author of those changes with copyright rights in the changes.
Having said that, the policy takes a very different starting point than who owns the records, what that means, or whether WorldCat data is public or proprietary. Instead, the policy begins with a new premise — the conviction that WorldCat is a shared community resource that is intended to benefit the cooperative of members who contribute to its growth and financially support it. Another principle underlying the policy is that the cooperative relies on WorldCat to share resources, reduce costs, and increase members' visibility and impact in the communities they serve. To that end, the policy sets out a framework of self-governing behaviors intended to sustain WorldCat, the services based on it, the outcomes those services produce, and the cooperative itself over time.
Consider what would happen if WorldCat (or a significant portion of it) were released into the public domain: in transferring large swathes of WorldCat records to non-member organizations, members in effect would be transferring the cooperative’s chief asset to organizations with no obligation to invest in it. The Record Use Policy Council’s analysis suggests that this would increase free riding, diminish the incentive to be a member, and eventually compromise the economic viability of the cooperative. The utility of the database for members, their partners and agents, and other organizations, would also be compromised as WorldCat fragments, resulting in a less comprehensive record supply, scattering efforts at collaborative knowledge organization, raising the costs of resource sharing, and reducing the global discoverability and visibility of members’ collections.