Licensing and access

Below is a summary of the range of rights and access models which exist now and which previously existed as a result of the TCP’s true partnership model, as well as its contractual relationships with commercial vendors.

Current partnership options

Only membership in the two EEBO partnerships conveys any benefit at present (August 2020).

  • Membership in the EEBO-TCP (phase 1) partnership carries with it access to the TCP Phase 1 texts on the ProQuest EEBO site (access to the texts on other sites is open to the public in any case).
  • Membership in the EEBO-TCP (phase 2) partnership carries with it access to the Phase 2 texts on the ProQuest site.

However,  this statement applies only to existing TCP partners. The Text Creation Partnership(s) are no longer open to new members. For a non-member library, the only way to secure the rights and privileges of TCP partnership at present is to add the “TCP” (or ‘full text’) option to the library’s subscription package from ProQuest.  This will automatically give the library access to the ProQuest version of the TCP files. When the prose below refers to “partners,” you may read this as meaning “(original) partners or (new) subscribers with the full-text option.”

Previous Terms of Use for the EEBO Phase 2 files

Till August 2020, EEBO TCP Phase 2 partners (or rather, their users) automatically (or, failing that, on request) gained access to the Phase 2 files on the Michigan TCP site and on the ProQuest EEBO site.

EEBO TCP Phase 2 partners were able to request the files as a bulk download for any internal use whatsoever (individual research, data mining, hosting, alteration, etc.), so long as the partner, in the person of some employee with the necessary authority, signed and submitted a Local Management Agreement (LMA), which laid out certain conditions of use.

What follows is a lay summary of those conditions intended to give only their gist, not a binding legal description: for an authoritative set of terms, contact and ask for a copy of the Local Management Agreement.

  • The LMA conveys a non-exclusive non-transferable license in the texts.
  • The partner library may load and serve the texts locally (to members or walk-ins) as they ordinarily do licensed electronic resources, and will use ordinary means to inform users of their responsibility not to distribute them further.
  • Neither the partner library nor its users have the right to distribute the texts except to other partner libraries and their users (and then only with permission, which is normally pro forma).
  • Local hosting should not include the ability to download entire texts with their XML markup, except for specific scholarly purposes.
  • Derivative versions should include a specified acknowledgment of ownership.
  • Users are specifically authorized to use and share the texts in the context of scholarly projects, teaching, or to create a new edition.

The LMA regime applied originally to all four TCP projects, applied most recently only to the EEBO TCP Phase 2 files through July of 2020. Thereafter, and henceforth, all restrictions are removed.

Original Terms and Classes of Partnership clarified

Though no new partners are being accepted, it may be of use to some existing Partner institutions to be reminded of the nature of the partnership that they joined. In sum:

1. Prerequisite: Database Access

Before becoming a TCP partner, an institution had to purchase or license access to the corresponding database. This transaction was negotiated directly between the institution and the publisher, and the license pertained to all content owned by the publisher. This might include:

  • Page images
  • Searchable text generated by the vendor through OCR (EEBO has no such text)
  • Access to vendor’s interface, search engine, and other functionality (perhaps conditional upon the payment of an annual maintenance fee)

The TCP required an institution to warrant that they had completed this step before they became a TCP partner.

E.g.: Large Western University purchases EEBO from ProQuest. Users at LWU can search the catalog records and view the images of all 125,000+ books, but cannot search or view the full electronic text.

2. Adding TCP Partnership


TCP partnership was established between the partner and the University of Michigan Library. The database publisher was and is not party to this agreement.  [Note: this is no longer true of EEBO subscriptions with the ‘full-text option’, which are still available from ProQuest, and in which ProQuest is essentially serving as a go-between between TCP and the subscriber, but which from the subscriber’s perspective are simply another ProQuest option.]

TCP partnership fees were different from either a subscription or a straight purchase because they directly funded the ongoing work of this project. TCP partnership was an investment in our work:  every partnership was a contribution that helped the TCP corpus to grow, so not only the partner library but all of the other partner libraries benefited. There was something of the Prisoner’s Dilemma about this arrangement, but for the most part libraries were willing to take each other on faith and contribute in the confidence that others would do the same.

E.g.:  Large Western University becomes an EEBO-TCP partner. Their partnership fee of $50,000 supports the keying and review of 250 books, which become a part of the corpus available to all users.


TCP partnership confers permanent co-ownership of the TCP text files on the partner institution. This gives the partner permission to access the texts through ProQuest’s EEBO interface, as well as through the  interface hosted at the University of Michigan. In addition, as co-owners of the texts, the TCP partners have the right to load, use, and host a copy of the texts locally.

E.g.: Large Western University hosts a version of the EEBO-TCP texts at  LinguaSearch@LWU, a search engine that supports linguistically-oriented searching across several datasets at once, with KWIC output. 

These rights extend to the TCP texts only; the institution’s right to use the page images is still governed by their agreement with the vendor.

E.g.: Large Western’s LinguaSearch instance only indexes the text created by the TCP; no attempt is made to involve the page images from EEBO, ECCO, or Evans.

3. Eventual Public Access to the TCP texts

Exclusivity Period

As stated, TCP partners shared permanent ownership of the texts, which are all in the public domain. However, the TCP’s agreements with our commercial partners granted these companies a limited window of time to be the exclusive providers of the text files (the “exclusivity period”). Consistent with this agreement, TCP partners agreed not to distribute the TCP texts to non-partners until this period had ended.

E.g.: Because it contained both Phase 1 and Phase 2 files, of which the latter were still in their exclusivity period, Large Western’s LinguaSearch interface for the EEBO-TCP texts was only accessible to CIC institutions that are EEBO-TCP partners. It was Large Western’s responsibility to set up and maintain an authorization system that ensures only TCP partner institutions could access these texts. Now that the exclusivity period has ended, this responsibility ends likewise.

Release to the Public

Now that the exclusivity period has come to an end, all TCP texts are available to the public. The University of Michigan Library makes the raw XML files available to the public for their own use and has removed the wall from our hosted version of the texts, so that anyone may search, browse, and read them online. Likewise, as of 1 August 2020, partner institutions are no longer obligated to restrict access to the texts only to other partner institutions, but may serve them to anyone they like, including the world at large.

E.g. Starting January 1, 2015, Large Western University was permitted to remove all restrictions from the EEBO-TCP Phase I texts in its LinguaSearch system, and make these available to the public.

These releases are staggered, based on when a project was finished, and the exclusivity period began.

  • ECCO-TCP has already been released to the public.
  • Evans-TCP has already been released to the public.
  • EEBO-TCP Phase I was released to the public January 1, 2015.
  • Though EEBO-TCP Phase II is currently still being produced, files already released as well as any files that will be added to this Phase in future were made available to the public, by arrangement with ProQuest, at the end of July 2020.

The release of the TCP texts to the public is entirely separate from, and does not change, the restrictions on the relevant commercial database. Even after the TCP texts became available to the public, an institution will have to purchase the relevant database from its publisher in order to access the page images.