Case Study: Finding new licensing streams with Rebecca Cook, Wiley

Rebecca Cook is Associate Director, Copyright and Permissions at Wiley

The collection of rights information is an important aspect of Wiley’s publication process. When we have reuse requests, which are largely for new content, we are able to quickly access the rights information. 

With Wiley’s 213 year legacy of publishing, we know the further you go back in time, the harder it can be to find rights information. When we are asked for information, our team will do their best to try to track down the relevant details, but in some cases it’s difficult to find definitive answers. Some requests are urgent, and with the time it takes to respond, lack of speed can lead to licences being lost. This highlights the importance of having a clear, easily searchable digital rights system. There are plenty of solutions out there and it doesn’t have to entail a huge investment, but you need to be sure that it meets your needs and can cope with your growth in publishing output.

The breadth and depth of our content catalog means there is great potential for new licensing models to be explored. We try to get as close to our customers as we can, understand their needs and the technological ecosystems they work in, and respond with content and solutions that suit them best. That might mean, for example, disaggregating our images from journals content and then licensing them individually, or licensing whole journals and books to aggregators or other digital platforms. You don’t necessarily have to license content as a whole: you can slice and dice in different ways. But to do that, you have to be completely certain about the rights you control.

We’ve recently partnered with Harvard Medical School to develop new machine learning and AI tools that identify discrepancies in image data, which will improve the reliability of research. It’s a good example of how licensing is about more than just revenue, but about better serving our communities. We’ve also adjusted our licensing policies to open up coronavirus-related research and improve access for people who aren’t in their usual place of study. Making content as discoverable and accessible as possible supports many aims of the business—but again, you can only achieve that if you know what material you have the right to offer in innovative ways.

Finding new licensing models doesn’t have to mean big changes in the way you operate. You can start in areas where you know your target markets well, and where big investment won’t be needed. Understand what is going on in your markets and get to conferences or other events related to your sectors: they can help you learn what people want at the moment, and how you might be able to provide it. Talk to editorial teams and other people internally, as they might have ideas for licensing content that you haven’t thought of. Find good partners and ways to make your processes simpler, like by signing up to PLS Permissions. Above all, establish the foundations for licensing by making sure that your rights information and systems are in the best possible order.

About Rebecca

Rebecca Cook is Associate Director, Copyright and Permissions at Wiley.