When Copyright Clearance Center was formed at the suggestion of Congress (as part of the 1976 Copyright Act), digital rights weren't even part of the mix. Three decades later, as publishers of all sizes look to monetize their digital assets, CCC is trying to keep up by fine-tuning programs already in place and adding new ones. “We're changing rapidly with the way people use content now,” said CCC spokesperson Doug Black.

Over the past weekend at the American Library Association convention in Washington, D.C., CCC announced that it will begin offering annual licenses for colleges and universities. This should make it easier for faculty and staff to use content to develop electronic coursepacks, for handouts and in library reserves, while respecting copyrights. Previously most of CCC's academic permissions have been on a transactional, or pay-per-use, basis; the program accounted for close to $28 million in revenue in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2006. “We've been working with Middlebury College to help us understand the market,” said Bill Burger, CCC vice-president for marketing. “We're rolling out [the program] in a controlled way to make sure we get it right.” To start, CCC will focus on schools with enrollment of fewer than 5,000 students.

However, servicing the corporate world continues to be CCC's largest source of revenue. Annual enterprise licenses that cover employees' use of copyrighted materials within a company accounted for more than $100 million in revenues in '06. Altogether, notes Burger, enterprise licenses are used by more than 20 million employees.

Last year, CCC introduced Rightsphere, a rights management service intended to give employees of large corporations faster access to rights information. Boeing, Eli Lilly, Novartis and AstraZeneca have signed on for the service to date, which was enhanced earlier this month to make it easier to integrate Rightsphere into collaboration applications like Lotus Notes and Microsoft SharePoint.

CCC also continues to add clients for Rightslink, which provides on-the-fly licensing for visitors to publishers' Web sites. Last week, O'Reilly Media was the latest publisher to sign on so that it can streamline licensing content, from book chapters down to individual sentences and lines of computer code. “Rightslink gives us better customer understanding,” said O'Reilly's director of online marketing and digital initiatives, Allen Noren.

Between its academic and corporate licenses, CCC had revenue of $163 million in fiscal '06 and distributed $112 million in royalties to rights holders. Although fiscal 2007 is not quite closed, the not-for-profit is on track to earn more than $170 million.