Hoover’s Online Access Reinstated: Contract Terms Revised to Meet MIT’s Needs

Posted November 30th, 2006 by Ellen Duranceau

In October, the Libraries reported that Hoover’s Online, a popular database of company information, had been canceled as a result of a new contract requirement from Hoovers that we could not accept.

Why We Canceled: Unacceptable Terms

The contract, required to renew our subscription, stipulated that MIT would be financially responsible for any activity Hoovers deemed — or even suspected — was fraudulent, putting MIT at financial risk and setting an unacceptable precedent. We had never before dropped a product because we were unable to come to agreement with a provider, but believed that our action would safeguard our ability to offer a range of content in all disciplines, on reasonable terms, to the MIT community in the future.

A New & Improved Contract

Our decision has proven both educational and productive. Following the MIT Libraries’ cancellation, Hoovers’ higher management reconsidered its position and wanted to work with the MIT Libraries to create acceptable terms. They removed the language making MIT responsible for suspected fraudulent use, and incorporated a reasonable protocol for handling such incidents into the contract.

Access Restored

We are delighted to inform the MIT community that access to Hoover’s Online was restored under this new contract on November 29.

Thank You

We would like to thank the individuals who took the time to share their thoughts with us about our initial decision, and particularly for the support people expressed despite the inconvenience they were caused. We received encouragement from individuals at MIT, but also from other universities, many of whom had been caught in the same dilemma. We were pleased that Hoovers’ management was willing to work towards a model that accommodates academic institutions. In addition to restored access at MIT, one of the positive outcomes of this process we can hope for is that other universities will be offered the same revised terms.

We welcome continued dialog about this particular case, or any issue regarding access to digital content at MIT. Comments may be directed to copyright-lib@mit.edu.

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