New CrossRef initiatives aim to be self-sustaining, thus, we will look at various ways to fund the development and upkeep of the TDM service. That being said, we have historically used the following principles when developing business models for new services:
- New initiatives are always optional to our members. Members who do not participate in our new initiatives will not be charged for them.
- We do not charge end-users (e.g. researchers, librarians) for access to metadata and APIs
- We sometimes charge intermediaries for access to our services (to cover the cost of administration, maintaining SLAs, etc.)
- We do not charge our members for depositing extra metadata into our services
- We sometimes charge our members for the cost of administering our services, maintaining SLAs, development, etc.
- We eschew charging mechanisms that involve complex administrative overhead. The cost of developing and running them generally negates the revenue raised by implementing them.
- We try to tie any charges as directly as possible to where costs are incurred.
In the case of this service, there are two major components of the system:
- The Common API
- The click-through service
Based on the previously discussed principles, it is hard to see why or how we could tie charges to the Common API. The ‘Common API’ in nothing more than an extension of the use of an already existing API (content negotiation) to handle a new type of metadata (links to licenses and to full text representations of the DOI). As we indicated before, we have historically never charged for these kinds of new developments.
This leaves us with the click-through service. This is the only significant new development for the CrossRef TDM system. It also represents an entirely new service that we will need to host, maintain, upgrade and provide support for. In short, any new, significant costs to CrossRef are only likely to arise out of the click-through service and so it seems logical to tie the sustainability business model of CrossRef TDM to it.
There are a few conceivable business models around the click-through service. They range greatly in their complexity to develop and administer.
- Charge end-users (e.g. researchers, etc.) who register to accept/reject proprietary licenses.
- Charge researchers (e.g. researchers, etc.) based on how many documents they harvest using their Client API Token.
- Charge publishers based on the number of times they check Client API Tokens with the click-through service.
- Charge publishers based on the number of licenses that they register with the click-through service.
- Charge publishers who register licenses with the click-through service a flat annual fee.
The problem with any scenarios involving charging end-users is that:
- Doing so goes against the above-mentioned principles
- CrossRef has no existing mechanisms for charging end-users for anything
- Implementing a mechanism for charging end-users would be both complex and expensive.
This leaves us with several scenarios where we might charge publishers who are using the click-through service. Of the three publisher charging scenarios, two would involved the development of additional charging mechanisms. It seems quite likely that the complexity of developing these charging mechanisms would, paradoxically, raise the cost of developing the click-through service itself. This is not to say these options are impossible, it just appears that there are diminishing returns in following this approach.
The final option of charging an annual fee to publishers who use the click-through service to register licenses is the most both the easiest and cheapest option to administer. It is also the most consistent with past new initiative precedents. CrossRef staff will work out some models upon which to base such an annual rate and will propose these to the CrossRef TDM Working Group once we get feedback from the group on the technical feasibility of the current proposal.