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Nature confidentiality update/call for responses (apologies -- it's crossposted, and a bit long) Rick Anderson 02 Oct 2006 21:20 UTC

For any who are interested:

I've heard from a member of Nature's management, who informs me that my
sales rep was mistaken when he told me that the pricing confidentiality
language would be removed from the negotiated version of our license.
She reiterated that "there is no more movement on our lawyers' part."  I
again pointed out that Nature employs its lawyers, not the other way
around, and suggested that Nature needs to decide for itself whether
confidentiality provisions are worth the trouble, and then either defend
that decision to its customers or tell its lawyers to get rid of the
confidentiality language in the license.  I offered again to speak to
any member of the legal staff who might be willing to talk with me.

She responded that really, confidentiality is needed for business
reasons.  She feels that to give in to one library's demands and allow
it to inform others of that concession would cause the entire community
to demand the same concessions, and since not all libraries can be given
the same terms, this would lead to an unworkable situation.  I told her
that publishers conduct individual negotiations all the time without
demanding secrecy, and that approach doesn't seem to be driving any of
them out of business; I also suggested that all librarians understand
that every library can't have the exact same terms.  We don't ask that
we all get the same terms, but insist only that we be allowed to
negotiate terms based on our own situations, and not be required to keep
the results of those negotiations secret from our colleagues and from
the public whose money we're spending.

Now, here's the reason I'm imposing this message on the list: she also
mentioned that every time she has explained Nature's confidentiality
provision to a librarian, the librarian has "understood and supported
the reasoning behind it."  It seems to me that those of us who object to
the confidentiality provisions need to make that fact better known to
Nature.  (And, of course, those of us who do support Nature's stance
should feel free to say so as well.)  Without harrassing or bombarding
anyone, I think this might be a good time to let your sales rep know if
you feel that Nature's confidentiality provisions are unacceptable, and
to ask him or her to pass that information along to upper management.

One more note: Nature _has_ offered to add "subject to local law"
language at the beginning of the confidentiality clause.  My problem
with that solution is that I'm not deeply familiar enough with state law
in Nevada to know whether there are loopholes that might allow us to
keep some license and pricing terms confidential, and I'm not willing to
put my library in a situation that would force staff to conduct a search
in the Nevada Revised Statute whenever someone asks a question about the
results of our negotiations with Nature, just to see whether or not we
can answer the question.

OK, I'm done for now.  Thanks for your collective patience; I hope these
messages have been more useful than annoying.

Rick Anderson
Dir. of Resource Acquisition
University of Nevada, Reno Libraries
(775) 784-6500 x273