2017–2020 reader scheme for universities

The universities have concluded an agreement with publishers on the reuse of copyright-protected content. Under this Easy Access agreement, a larger percentage of the reproductions have been purchased on the basis of a lump sum payment, so institutions need to request permission for reproductions less frequently This change should reduce the administrative burden. At the same time, the aim is to obtain more information on actual reuse to keep the costs for universities under control.
University lecturers often use copyright-protected material for their teaching. In the past, copyright-protected content was often distributed in the form of readers among students. Nowadays, this material also relates to online content which is available through an electronic learning environment.
Universities have often already paid for articles through licences granted by publishers. Lecturers are increasingly able to use open access. In some cases, the publisher's permission still needs to be obtained for including copyright-protected material in an electronic learning environment and a fee is charged. Stichting PRO (the Dutch Publication and Reproduction Rights Organisation) collects these fees and transfers them to the publishers. 
In practice, it is difficult for lecturers to determine whether certain content falls under the scope of a licence and what use of the content is permitted. For this purpose, random checks were carried out in previous years to find out how much improper use was made of content.
Based on this survey, a lump sum payment is now made each year and a new agreement has been concluded for the 2017–2020 period. It has also been laid down in the new agreement that universities want to bring the costs under control and share knowledge with each other in order to organise the reuse of content more effectively. A leading group of representatives from publishers and universities are developing methods to measure actual use as well as to assist libraries and lecturers with the reuse of content.
The universities also aim to reduce the total volume of reused copyright-protected content by 5% annually. This reduction can be achieved by using open learning materials and open access articles. Libraries can assist lecturers in finding and integrating these types of materials into their learning environment. We are also looking at easily accessible ways of showing which licence agreements have been concluded by libraries and what use of the content is permitted.
Whether the volume will actually fall in the next three years will be determined by performing an in-depth survey of actual reuse among three universities each year. This survey will first be carried out among universities participating in the leading group.

The agreements apply to all VSNU member institutions, including the medical faculties as well as all their current research schools and institutions.

New scheme

The new scheme expands on the previous scheme applicable until 1 January 2017. It stipulates that higher education institutions may use a maximum of 50 pages or 25% of a work. Within this percentage, we refer to 'short reproductions' and 'medium reproductions'. As all use that falls within this percentage has been purchased on the basis of a lump sum payment, no additional charge needs to be paid and no permission needs to be arranged.
If a lecturer wishes to reproduce more than 50% of the total work, it qualifies as 'long reproductions'. Permission must be obtained from the publishers for this purpose. However, an additional fee must be paid to Stichting PRO.


You can find the new agreement and the explanatory notes here (Dutch only).
More information
Lecturers can contact the library of their own institution if they have any questions about the new scheme. For further information on the new Reader Scheme, please visit the website of Stichting PRO. 
In 2018, concerns (Dutch only) were raised about the scheme due to the check on PowerPoint images. The VSNU issued a written response (Dutch only). Also see: Auteursrechtelijk beschermd materiaal ter toelichting bij het onderwijs en de Easy access-regeling (in Dutch) by Prof. D.J.G. Visser (professor of Intellectual Property Law).


Reinout van Brakel

Director Accountability

+31 (0)6 27 03 63 49