Developing a Pilot Data Trust for Open Access Ebook Usage. Building an international data trust to improve the measurement and analysis of Open Access (OA) books. Logos for University of Michigan Library, Educopia Institute, Book Industry Study Group, University of North Texas

Call for Proposals: Legal Consultant


The University of North Texas is leading a team with members from around the world to create an international data trust improving the measurement and analysis of open access (OA) book usage.

The new data trust, to be created with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be the first of its kind for scholarly publishing, enabling universities and publishers to share and analyze data on OA works.

OA materials are free to read online and are distributed without licensing restrictions. Allowing unrestricted access to scholarly research enables students, researchers, and the public to use the most up-to-date and relevant information for their work.

OA to scholarly literature has developed more slowly for academic books than for journals. The data trust will be designed to ensure responsible use of ebook metrics and will be a vital source of insight into the ways scholarly books are being accessed and used, and the impact of the knowledge they contain.

Currently, there are no systematic practices for collecting data on how and where these materials are used. The two-year project, led by UNT librarian Kevin Hawkins and conducted in partnership with the Educopia Institute, Curtin University, University of Michigan and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), is designed to facilitate academic data sharing by compiling ebook usage data and standardizing analysis and reporting tools. See more information about the project.

Description of Legal Consulting Services Needed

Over the course of two calendar years (2020–2021), the project team will work to build and test a data trust designed to collect and present measures of OA scholarly ebook usage for titles published around the world. Our project goals include building a legal and business model that will allow for participation by stakeholders of various types of sizes, provide a cost-effective service for its members, and ensure governance control by its members.

The Legal Consultant will work with project team members, certain external parties, business consultants managed by BISG, and the project’s advisory board to guide the project’s work and address relevant international legal questions and concerns around prospective business models and activities for the data trust.

The primary deliverable will be a Legal Agenda with recommendations on and options for legal structures to support the data trust, due on or before September 1, 2020. Components of the Legal Agenda should include:

  • Identification of legal subject areas relevant to the data trust concept and work (such as copyright law and contract law)
  • Guidance on adherence to or exemptions from various relevant data and digital legal structures and standards, including GDPR and DMCA, 17 USC §107 and similar legal fair-use-like provisions in other national contexts, etc.
  • Model contract language (such as agreements for data ingest and extraction, for services, and for ownership of or membership in the data trust)
  • Advising on the legal frameworks and pathways that can support the creation and governance of an international cooperative
  • Recommendations regarding the hosting infrastructures and business frameworks to be utilized by the data trust

The Legal Consultant will also participate in the following:

  • Regular project meetings held by phone or video conferencing software
  • Bi-monthly Law and Policy Chats—providing expert facilitation and input through bi-monthly meetings with project team members to discuss law and policy issues related to usage data identification, storage, usage, and reporting, currently scheduled through December 2021.
  • Participation in a series of up to four intensive virtual 2-hour meetings that intend to serve as a replacement for an in-person meeting that was originally scheduled for May 21, 2020.

Assumptions made and sources for components of this work should be documented in the Legal Agenda.

The work, estimated at a total of 12-15 days’ effort, will take place in 2020 and 2021. The bid should include time to participate in a series of up to four intensive virtual 2-hour meetings that intend to serve as a replacement for an in-person meeting that was originally scheduled for May 21, 2020.

Educopia Institute will oversee the legal consulting efforts. Its executive director, Katherine Skinner, will manage and provide direction on this work.

Proposal Components

Proposals to deliver legal recommendations should include:

  • Brief description of the planned approach
  • Confirmation of the timeline and deliverables
  • Past experience (relevant assignments) with business model development
  • Past experience (relevant assignments) with OA publishing
  • Proposed project fee (up to $52,000 total)

Respondents are encouraged to provide other information that will help the project team understand capabilities. This additional information can include samples of previous work and perspectives on OA publishing, as examples.

Timeline for Bids

Bids are due to Educopia Institute ( by 12 p.m. ET on Friday April 10, 2020.

Following receipt of bids, any questions or requests for additional information will be sent by Friday, April 17. Notification of a chosen bid will be made on or before May 1. Any deviation in this schedule will be communicated to all bidders on a timely basis.


Questions or comments on this request for proposals may be directed to Emma de Francisco at the email address provided above.