Market Research Licenses: How They Really Work

file_earth_globe,  featured on the world of market research, one of the biggest areas of confusion revolves around licensing.  When I buy a report, who can use it and how can it be used?  This is made even more difficult because the terms one publisher uses can be different from another.  In 2013, we published a blog post to help companies of various sizes and with various budgets determine which license was right for them. Because licensing remains such a complex concept to many purchasers and end users, here is a more in-depth guide to help you understand the complicated maze of market research licensing.

Who can use the report?

The primary function of a report license is to define how many people within the purchasing organization are authorized to use the report directly.  There are many possibilities for licensing, but two are the most common:

  • Single User License – This license allows one user to have and use/read the report.  It is not one user at a time or one user group; it is an individual who will be reading and utilizing the report for the entire company.  This option is intended for companies where one person is going to be responsible for a project and need the report to help in his or her decision making process.
  • Global Site License – This license allows for the whole company to read and use the report.  This is the license level that would allow for a report to be placed on a company shared drive and directly used by everyone.

Because the need to read a report is often not as clear cut as one or all, there are many other license options that some publishers are willing to offer:

  • Departmental Licenses – This license is designed to allow an entire department within a company full access to a report.  The departmental license is a great option for companies that have more than one location and the department is spread out all over the country/world
  • Site Licenses – This license is for companies that have one location where they want the report to be accessible.  It is optimal for companies that only have one location or for teams/departments that are all located in the same physical place.
  • Multi-User Licenses – This is the most loose of the licensing options.  Some publishers will allow you to get a license for a preset number of people (typically 5).  These licenses are ideal for small work groups that have a shared active project or for a situation where both the end user of the report and the department manager both need to have direct access to the report.

2_Female_Consultants, featured on important thing to keep in mind is that many publishers have their own definition of what these licensing terms mean.  Several publishers I have worked with use the term departmental and site interchangeably, so I would always caution that you should get the publisher to clarify their terms before buying a report.  This is especially true for publishers or aggregators that use the term Corporate or Enterprise as a license description as these terms are used to describe many different muti-user options.


So, what can I do with the report?

The scope of what can be done with a report once you are an authorized user is as varied as the number of publishers.  However, there are some usage rules that are very common:

  • Internal use - Almost all report licensing is intended for internal use of the information only.  The greatest complications in this regard all focus around the single user license, so I am going to concentrate of that.  In most cases, as long as only one person is directly accessing the report, it is fine to share the insights that you get from the report with the company.   Most publishers even allow you to cut and paste limited pieces of the reports directly into any internal reporting being done as long as the information is properly cited and done in very limited quantities.  Copy and pasting whole sections is definitely not the intent of a single user license, but frequently the cutting and pasting of a key table or two is expected.  It is always wise to ask any questions about what the publisher considers fair use of their report if you have any doubts.
  • External use – Almost universally, these licenses allow for absolutely zero external use of the information they are providing.  However, this does not mean that the publishers are never willing to allow it to happen.  If you ever need to take a key piece of information from a report for a marketing  piece, a blog post or any other external communication, many publishers are quite cooperative as long as you ask first and are clear about exactly what you are going to use and how.

Licenses are indented to help a publisher protect the investment they have placed in creating the report, not to limit the usefulness of the document.  So, don’t be hesitant to ask your account manager for a license that meets your specific needs.  You may be surprised by how flexible a publisher can be for someone who is clearly trying to respect the licenses in the first place.

Still have questions regarding market research licensing? Schedule a free consultation, and one of our research specialists can help answer your questions.

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Thanks for reading!

Robert Kaminsky

Research Specialist,

Topics: Market Research Strategy