SkyRiver files antitrust lawsuit against OCLC

When the SkyRiver bibliographic utility was first announced, I thought this would eventually lead to some sort of legal action. What I didn’t know is who would be the first to bring legal action and against whom. Well, now we know. SkyRiver, joined by Innovative Interfaces, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco.

The likelihood of a lawsuit seemed more certain after the fees OCLC wanted to charge some of the first customers of SkyRiver like Michigan State University and California State University, Long Beach, to upload holdings. According to SkyRivers’ press release about the lawsuit (pdf) OCLC quoted them a price increase of over 1100%. I’m not a legal scholar and don’t know any details of the actually filling, so I don’t know what will happen, but it certainly will be interesting and will be a game changer. I also don’t expect it to have a quick outcome.

I didn’t see a press release from Innovative Interfaces yet, but I am sure that one of the reasons the company joined the lawsuit was the new OCLC Web-scale Management Services which directly competes with the traditional ILS.* Honestly, I was really surprised that the new OCLC system didn’t create a bigger buzz because in my mind it is a game changer. OCLC with control of so many bibliographic members created by members via there WorldCat platform is in a position to leverage WorldCat and a tremendous amount of data in ways other vendors simply can’t, especially if SkyRiver’s anti-trust claims are accurate. I also think the whole WorldCat record use policy fiasco over the last year or so has also added to the factors leading to this lawsuit.

As far as I know, OCLC also hasn’t made a public response as of yet.

I plan on following this story closely because I believe however it turns out, as I mentioned earlier it will be a game changer. If OCLC prevails, startups like SkyRiver won’t have a fair chance. If SkyRiver prevails, we can see a major restructuring of services that OCLC provides and possibly even a breakup of OCLC.

For information about the lawsuit from SkyRiver, check out the Web site they created about it, called Choice for Libraries.

* Yes, I know that SkyRiver and Innovative Interfaces are owned by the same people, but they are different companies.

3 Comments

  1. ecorrado said,

    July 29, 2010 at 16:07:21

    The actual SkyRiver complaint is now posted on Marshall Breeding’s Library Technology guides Web site.

  2. MJ Ray said,

    August 27, 2010 at 11:08:30

    Are you a (worker for a) OCLC member? If so, what are you doing inside OCLC in reaction to this?

  3. ecorrado said,

    September 7, 2010 at 08:09:19

    @MJ: I do work for an OCLC member. I don’t have anything specific to report about how we are handling this, but we are keeping a close on the situation because depending on the results of this lawsuit, there could be major changes in how libraries (particularly American academic libraries) operate.