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November 14, 2008 [posted]

New NLM® Data License Agreement and Web-based License Request System

New License Agreement

The National Library of Medicine® (NLM) is announcing the release of a new data license agreement dated October 24, 2008 that covers the following NLM data: MEDLINE® /PubMed®, Catfile, CatfilePlus, CCRIS, ChemIDplus® Subset, DIRLINE®, GENE-TOX, HSDB®, Serfile, and TOXLINE® Subset. The new license consolidates, updates, and entirely supersedes the two agreements that have been in effect:

  1. NLM License Agreement to Lease NLM Databases in Machine-Readable Form, and
  2. NLM Licensee Agreement for Non-U.S. Organizations for Use of MEDLINE and Other NLM Databases Solely for Research Purposes. Please note that the Unified Medical Language System® data are not covered under the new license; the UMLS® license is not affected.

Licensees currently covered by one of the two NLM data license agreements that pre-date October 24, 2008, who wish to remain a licensee, regardless of when they first signed their license agreement with NLM, must enter into the new (dated October 24, 2008) license agreement. Primary and secondary representatives of all existing licensees have recently been sent an e-mail, now posted as an announcement, about this. You should enter into the new agreement by December 10, 2008 to ensure uninterrupted access to the data you currently lease (this is part of the annual renewal procedure this year). Please contact Jane Rosov at if you currently lease MEDLINE/PubMed, Catfile, CatfilePlus, CCRIS, ChemIDplus Subset, DIRLINE, GENE-TOX, HSDB, Serfile, and/or TOXLINE Subset if you have not yet received the e-mail.

The license agreements that pre-date October 24, 2008 will cease on March 1, 2009. Existing licensees who do not enter into the new agreement by March 1 must cease using the NLM data obtained under the old license. Furthermore, licensees who have redistributed data received under the old licenses, or data derived from the NLM-supplied data, should notify the users of the information products/services/applications based on that data to cease their use. Licensees should also take reasonable steps to ensure that people will not continue to access products/services/applications containing NLM data that have become superseded by updated and/or maintained versions.

The primary change in the new license is that it eliminates the distinction between licensees located in the US or outside the US. All licensees, those inside and outside the US, may redistribute the licensed NLM data under the same terms and conditions. An additional set of requirements applicable to licensees who do not use a static version of the licensed data is stated in Appendix C of the license. A printable (PDF) version is available at

Key points about licensing data from NLM include:

  1. The licensed data are still available from NLM via FTP and at no cost.
  2. NLM continues to require acknowledgement of NLM as the source of the licensed data in products/services/applications consisting of:
    a) only data licensed from NLM;
    b) complete or partial NLM-provided records merged or displayed with data from other sources; and now also
    c) information/data derived from data licensed from NLM. Recommended wording for such attribution is provided in the new license.
  3. NLM best practices recommendation calls for incorporating update files more frequently: from quarterly, as stated in the previous licenses, to 30 days after the update files become available at NLM; 90 days for complete database replacement files.
  4. A minimal set of data elements must be displayed for MEDLINE/PubMed data, except if the licensee's product/service/application is a citation retrieval system that provides a direct electronic link to the corresponding record in PubMed at NLM. In that case, there is no minimal set of data elements required for display.
  5. NLM continues to assume no responsibility or liability associated with Licensee's use of copyrighted material. NLM does not provide legal advice regarding copyright fair use, or other aspects of intellectual property rights. As always, persons contemplating any type of transmission or reproduction of copyrighted material such as abstracts are advised to consult legal counsel.

New Web-based License Request System

General information about leasing data from the NLM may be found at // A Web-based license request system is now used to submit license requests for MEDLINE/PubMed, Catfile, CatfilePlus, CCRIS, ChemIDplus Subset, DIRLINE, GENE-TOX, HSDB, Serfile, and TOXLINE Subset data. After reading about the data you wish to license, follow these steps to submit a license request:

  1. Read and accept the new electronic license including its appendices at
  2. Complete the online license request form which appears after the license is accepted.
  3. Review your input for accuracy, print a copy, and click on the submit button.
  4. Look for an e-mail from NLM and follow the instructions to authenticate your request.
  5. Allow up to five business days for your license request to be reviewed and approved, or possibly to receive a request for additional information from NLM.

Currently, there are approximately 550 licensees:

NLM data licensees consist of formally recognized International MEDLARS Centers; government entities; researchers in academia, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and software companies; and commercial enterprises including database producers/vendors. The licensees make NLM data or data derived from the licensed data available within their own settings, more openly for fellow researchers and colleagues, and also in the marketplace.

Contact Jane Rosov if you have questions or would like additional information.

By Jane L. Rosov
MEDLARS Management Section

Rosov JL. New NLM® Data License Agreement and Web-based License Request System. NLM Tech Bull. 2008 Nov-Dec; (365):e4.

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