SkyRiver sues OCLC

SkyRiver, the new bibliographic records company created by Innovative Interfaces, Inc. (III) owner Jerry Kline, has filed suit against OCLC, alleging that they are “unlawfully monopolizing the markets for cataloging services, interlibrary lending, and bibliographic data.”

SkyRiver has been joined in the suit by III.  To my knowledge, OCLC has not yet responded to the suit.

SkyRiver set up a website called Choice for Libraries to provide information about their activities relating to the suit, and is encouraging the use of the #skyoclc hashtag for Twitter posts.

The most thorough coverage I have seen so far is from Library Journal.

My initial thoughts:

  • Why set up an informative website, post the press release, but not post the actual legal document (redacting monetary portions, if necessary)?
  • Why is III part of this lawsuit, besides being owned by the same person?  Has III suffered damages from this?
  • Why aren’t the libraries/universities who found their OCLC charges being increased 1100% (Michigan State University and California State University, Long Beach, according to the press release) not part of the suit?
  • It is certainly interesting to see two companies for whom I have been critical regarding business practices involved on opposite sides of a lawsuit involving business practices.

Overall, this will be interesting to watch.  There are many benefits to be had by libraries if business practices are brought into the open and examined in a fair way.  If this is only played out as a public relations battle, the benefits are diminished.

I really wish that this had been initiated by the affected libraries, or at least in partnership with them.  A battle simply between two (or three, depending on how III relates to the case) companies won’t necessarily provide the courts with the broader picture of the whole bibliographic services business.

As long as it is “this bibliographic records provider is hurting this other bibliographic records provider”, libraries can still be stuck on the receiving end of a fundamentally flawed business model.

This is a lawsuit that might be necessary to bring some pressing problems into the open, but I am not so sure that SkyRiver/III is the right combination of companies to champion the cause.

Update: LibraryTechnology.org has posted a copy of the suit.

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