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- Table of Contents -

Introduction to the online version

Chapter 1 – The Commission and Its Recommendations

Chapter 2 – The Establishment, Mandate, and Activities of the Commission

Chapter 3 – Computers and Copyright

Chapter 4 – Machine Reproduction – Photocopying

Chapter 5 – Summary

Appendix A – Summary of the Legislative History of Computer-Related Issues and the Photocopy Issue

Appendix B – Public Law 93-573 and Public Law 95-146

Appendix C – Commissioners

Appendix D – Staff

Appendix E – Lists of Witnesses

Appendix F – Alphabetical Listing of Persons Appearing before the Commission

Appendix G – Transcripts of Commission Meetings

Appendix H – Summaries of Commission-Sponsored Studies

- Economics of Property Rights as Applied to Computer Software and Data Bases

- Legal Protection of Computer Software, An Industrial Survey

- Costs of Owning, Borrowing, and Disposing of Periodical Publications

- An Analysis of Computer and Photocopying Issues from the Point of View of the General Public and the Ultimate Consumer

- Survey of Publisher Practices and Current Attitudes on Authorized Journal Article Copying and Licensing

- Library Photocopying in the United States, with Implications for the Development of a Royalty Payment Mechanism

Appendix I – Bibliography

Appendix J – Selected Provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976 and Copyright Office Regulations

Full table of contents

PDF version of the report

Picture of commissioners and staff

Final Report of the National Commission on New Technology Uses of Copyrighted Works

Appendix H – Summaries of Commission-Sponsored Studies

REPORT TITLE: Costs of Owning, Borrowing, and Disposing of Periodical Publications

CONTRACTOR: Public Research Institute, Cen­ter for Naval Analyses

AUTHORS: Vernon E. Palmour, Marcia C' Bellassai, and Robert R. V. Wiederkehr



A library has two ways of satisfying its user's requirements for periodical literature: it may either subscribe and keep issues on the shelf, or it may borrow from another library. At low levels of usage, it is cheaper for the library to fulfill patron requirements through borrowing; at higher levels of usage, subscribing is cheaper. This study specifies a mathematical model which states exactly the conditions under which each course of action is preferable from the library's own point of view. The work done for CONTU represents an updating of the model originally developed by the same authors for the Associ­ation of Research Libraries in 1968.

Specifications of the Model

Library Cost Components Included

Data were collected from three different li­braries to estimate the magnitude of the follow­ing library costs, which vary depending on sub­scription decisions: (1) initial costs of acquiring and cataloging a new title; (2) annual re­curring costs of maintaining and servicing jour­nal materials; (3) internal costs of circulation, reshelving,and lending to others; and (4) in­ternal cost of processing an interlibrary loan transaction.

The model explicitly does not take into ac­count the loss of browsing capacity due to dropping a subscription or the cost in terms of delay to the patron due to borrowing.

Since the fee, if any, a lending library may charge for the use of its materials, or external borrowing cost-may vary widely from case to case, the model takes this as a variable, The levels of journal use at which libraries should either drop or add subscriptions, called the crossover points, are given for different specified external lending fees. Since lending fees often do not exist or do not cover the lending li­brary's costs, interlibrary loan may be unrealis­tically cheap from the borrower's point of view, and the crossover points of journal usage from a social point of view would therefore be higher.

Journal Usage over Time and Length of Holdings

Use of journal literature decays rather rapidly. Almost 80 percent of usage occurs within five years after publication, and almost 95 percent within fifteen years. Based on studies at two large libraries, the model includes two schedules—one for science and technology and one for {Page 128} the social and life sciences-to take this usage pattern into account.

The number of years of back holdings that a library has on the shelves will vary from journal to journal. However, five requests or uses for a journal with five years of back files does not have the same meaning as five requests for a fifteen-year-old title holding. To account for this, the mathematical model includes a "nor­malization" factor. Since the crossover points are specified for journals with ten years of back holdings, one needs to adjust for the length of a particular journal's back files before applying the add/drop decision criterion supplied by the crossover point.

Subscription Prices

Since subscription prices vary widely, the model specifies crossover points according to different subscription price levels.

Planning Period

The model uses a twenty-five-year planning period; that is, the library deciding whether to subscribe or borrow is assumed to take into ac­count all costs and user requests up to twenty-five years away but to ignore any years farther in the future.


1. The crossover points are very similar for the decisions both to add a journal title and to drop one. The only difference lies in the li­brary's one-time cost of acquiring a new title.

2. A typical crossover point for the add/drop decision is four or five uses per journal title per year. This is the result, for example, with a subscription price of forty dollars and external lending fees of eight dollars.

3.  It is unlikely, then, that libraries will he engaging in much interlibrary lending activity that falls outside the limits specified by the CONTU guidelines (see Part I of this report), which permit each requesting library up to five copies of articles from the most recent five years of each journal title to which it does not sub­scribe. This is especially true given libraries' current tendency to maintain subscriptions even at very low levels of usage.

Next section: An Analysis of Computer and Photocopying Issues from the Point of View of the General Public and the Ultimate Consumer