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Re: Response from Ted Bergstrom to Ann Okerson

Karl Bridges asked, "My question is whether this is legal."

We must remember that creating a resource to openly share pricing
information does not require collusion.  Those for whatever reason who
choose not to participate would still be able to view the data.  Benefits
to each library, and to libraries as a whole, could be achieved by just a
handful of initial participants.

Reasons for Non-participation

At present, electronic subscriptions are bound by a legal obligation
between the publisher and each institution (or consortium if it is signing
on their behalf).  I am not talking about willfully ignoring these
contracts, yet it is important for libraries to resist confidentiality
clauses that prevent them from sharing details about cost or use with
other institutions.  Without the ability to share and aggregate data from
other institutions, we will all find ourselves paying more money for less
information than if we openly shared information. Those institutions that
belong to open-records states or have not already signed confidentiality
clauses are in an ideal position to provide the initial leadership for
this project.

--Phil Davis

At 06:23 PM 11/9/2005, you wrote:
My question is whether this is legal.  First, many libraries do have
nondisclosure agreements that would prevent them from doing this.
Second, isn't this something like restraint of trade?  A group of
businesses (libraries) getting together to collude to decide what prices
they will accept-- with the idea obviously of lowering prices.
Personally, I'd hesitate to participate in such an arrangement unless my
university counsel told me that I wouldn't be running afoul of laws about
interfering with interstate trade.