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Re: Advice from Peter

This thread has gone on for quite a long time.  I think the conclusion we
can reach is this:  There is disagreement between publishers, who feel
that librarians should not publicly discuss the terms and conditions under
which they receive materials because it is a violation or potential
violation of law and librarians who feel that they have a perfect right to
discuss such matters.

I guess, speaking for myself personally, I feel that if, indeed,
librarians discussing pricing is illegal then the publishers should do
something about it e.g. suing ALA or some other library group (or
individuals) and/or asking the Justice Department to investigate for
violations of the antitrust laws.  Since this isn't happening I see no
reason librarians cannot discuss what they want where they want --
assuming that they have not entered into a legally binding contract to the
contrary and are otherwise obeying the laws regarding slander, libel,
copyright, etc.  No one has presented any librarian (or library group)
with a valid legal injunction against the activities discussed -- to my
knowledge anyway -- not to say that doesn't exist somewhere.

I'm not arguing the validity of the arguments of one side or the other in
this situation.  I'm simply saying we're a nation of laws and there are
legal means preventing illegal behavior that the publishers have available
to them. And, absent that, people, even librarians, do have certain
constitutional guarantees regarding freedom of speech and freedom of
association -- which discussion of pricing seems to fall under.

Quoting Anthony Watkinson <anthony.watkinson@btopenworld.com>:

> I am not an expert either and I am also a foreigner but when I go to a
> public meeting of the AAP in the audience is an employee of that
> organisation and if discussion turns to business terms she always rises
> from her seat and asks the discussion to be terminated. Business terms
> is also much wider than pricing and covers licensing terms in general.
> The AAP may be wrong in their interpretation of US law but they are
> certainly consistent in urging it - in my experience. I should add in
> case the word "public" misleads that the same interpretation is
> operative in private meetings I attend.
> I have no idea what libraries are able to discuss. Surely someone at ALA
> and ARL is lurking here and can tell us.
> Anthony Watkinson