John Wiley & Sons: A Case of Granting Permission

Article ImageCompany: John Wiley & Sons

For more than 200 years, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. has been a source of information for the world, starting as a small printing press in New York in 1807. Throughout its history, Wiley's publications have expanded to include everything from art and religion to engineering and architecture, scholarly and scientific journals, and other types of media. Its brands include familiar names such as Frommer's, For Dummies, and CliffsNotes.

Business Challenge

In 2007, Wiley acquired Blackwell Publishing, growing its Scientific, Technical, Medical, and Scholarly (STMS) content to more than 1,500 journals, 9,000-plus books, reference works, and databases offered in print and electronically. This content is invaluable to the world's research and scholarly communities, and granting permission for reuse of this information posed a great challenge for Wiley's rights and permissions team. Following the merger, Wiley was suddenly receiving hundreds of permissions requests each day, with no efficient way to provide prompt turnaround. Its former manual email-based procedure would not suffice, and Blackwell's semi-automated method was also not satisfactory. Customers and employees alike were frustrated, and Wiley knew that it needed a solution that would please everyone and streamline the process.

Vendor of Choice: Copyright Clearance Center

Founded in 1978 as a not-for-profit organization, Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) works to provide solutions to simplify the licensing of copyrighted content to benefit those who supply content as well as those who use it. While CCC is based in Danvers, Mass., the company has recently expanded to serve the needs of European-based and worldwide markets.

The Problem in Depth
In the age of information, the issue of rights and permissions is ubiquitous. With today's expectation of immediacy, efficiency is a must. With thousands upon thousands of journals, books, and databases, Wiley's collection of content following its acquisition of Blackwell Publishing was in high demand by members of the scholarly and scientific communities.

Unfortunately, Wiley's manual method of rights permission granting was not efficient enough to deal with the now 2,000-plus requests each week. The company had internal automated proprietary rights databases, but they were only accessible to Wiley's small rights permissions team, not directly to customers. Requests were submitted to the company by permissions seekers via email, and many of them were not straightforward enough to deal with quickly-not to mention the inherent challenge of tracking requests via email.

Wiley had an internal target turnaround time of 10 days, but its staff soon found the timeline dragging to weeks. "This inevitably caused frustration both for the Permissions team trying to manage the deluge and our customers who were continually chasing for a response. We felt that continuing in this vein was untenable to our reputation as a publisher which prided itself on its excellent customer relationships and decided that something had to be done, and done quickly," according to Kris Kliemann, VP and director of global rights for Wiley.

Wiley required a solution that would increase efficiency for granting rights permissions for all content. It also had to take into account that Wiley had just acquired a great deal of new material through the incorporation of Blackwell, much of which had different price points, rules, and types of use. The solution also needed to satisfy Wiley's customers, as well as its frustrated employees.
The Solution
Fortunately, finding a solution to Wiley's problem was not difficult. Wiley had been working with Copyright Clearance Center for years, and Blackwell had implemented a simplified version of CCC's RightsLink service. In addition, a member of the Wiley team had previously implemented RightsLink with a former employer and was intimately familiar with the benefits the solution provided to both the publisher and those using the published content. All of this combined clearly made CCC and its RightsLink product the right solution for Wiley.

CCC's RightsLink was introduced in 2000 and was first implemented with Dow Jones & Co., making it a proven product for streamlining rights permissions. RightsLink can be implemented on a company's website or mobile application. Rather than emailing for rights permission, rights seekers are able to submit their requests online.

RightsLink implementations vary by company, and the product is flexible and customizable. Factors taken into consideration include translating the publisher's business rules into a functional transaction engine, building the service into the publisher's website, and conducting thorough quality assurance testing.
For Wiley, some of the modifications required to meet its business rules included an expanded set of licensing options, particularly to accommodate the many professional and scholarly society publishers that Wiley represents; incorporating permissions guidelines for agreed free permissions for fellow signatory publishers; and an efficient process for authors to download free licenses to reuse their published works.

"It required close collaboration and communication with various internal functions, including Editorial, IT, Legal," says Wiley's Kliemann.

The recent acquisition of Blackwell and its STMS content was an additional challenge to be taken into account during implementation. "They (Wiley and Blackwell) each manage their businesses with varying rules, pricing, and types of use, and this required an especially consultative implementation," explains Miles McNamee, VP of licensing and business development for CCC.

With all of these factors in play, the time from conception to launch took just less than a year. The implementation was a relatively smooth one. "The Permissions teams across Wiley locations were kept closely involved and informed at every step of the journey, and this ensured that they were as excited in the run up to the launch as we were. The feedback we have had from staff and customers has been overwhelmingly positive," says Kleimann.

Because RightsLink is customizable, Wiley was involved during the entire process with access to test servers to see its version of RightsLink as it evolved. When the launch approached, CCC provided training in all elements of the product, as well as a RightsLink dashboard and reporting tool in real time. After implementation is complete with any publisher, CCC provides a dedicated account manager for all RightsLink clients.

The Outcome
CCC's RightsLink succeeded in streamlining and simplifying Wiley's rights permission process, with almost immediate positive feedback from users of Wiley's content, as well as Wiley employees. The turnaround time for permissions requests was drastically reduced, thus achieving Wiley's goal of high customer satisfaction. In addition, the company saw its permission revenue double. Wiley attributes this increase to the ease of use, as well as the "Request Permissions" button at the point of content on its website. This increased the number of permissions being cleared, resulting in the additional revenue.

The higher efficiency also allowed members of the Wiley permissions team to focus on more strategic projects such as identifying new trends and opportunities for further improvement, as well as analyzing the data provided by RightsLink. This allows Wiley to continue to increase its efficiency and accuracy as well as to make intelligent, more informed business decisions.

While Wiley originally implemented RightsLink's capabilities for its journal collection, it soon expanded its use of the service. "Wiley is a great example of the scalable benefits of RightsLink: they initially added RightsLink to their STM journal content. Over time, they implemented RightsLink onto their STM ebook content at Wiley Online Library, as well as their entire trade book catalog on They have also added RightsLink to other significant collections," notes CCC's McNamee.

Wiley plans to continue its relationship with Copyright Clearance Center, including an opportunity to provide library patrons with a faster alternative to interlibrary loan via RightsLink. In addition to the expansion of RightsLink, Wiley is also reviewing other programs based on its satisfaction with its current CCC services.