SkyRiver Files Antitrust Suit Against OCLC

Submitted by Blake on Thu, 07/29/2010 - 13:02

SkyRiver Files Antitrust Suit Against OCLC
July 29, 2010
Emeryville, CA—In a move that could have far-reaching implications for competition in the library software and technology services industry, SkyRiver Technology Solutions, LLC has filed suit in federal court in San Francisco against OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. The suit alleges that OCLC, a purported non-profit with a membership of 72,000 libraries worldwide, is unlawfully monopolizing the markets for cataloging services, interlibrary lending, and bibliographic data, and attempting to monopolize the market for integrated library systems, by anticompetitive and exclusionary practices.

OCLC is a nonprofit Ohio corporation formed in 1967 and headquartered in Dublin, Ohio. OCLC’s stated mission is “furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs.” But over the years, OCLC has evolved into a global enterprise that sells numerous commercial products and services to libraries, generating revenues in excess of $200 million annually from 2005 through 2008, tax-free profits averaging over $17 million per year, and amassing a securities portfolio as high as $176 million in 2007. Since 1982 OCLC has used its tax-free profits to acquire 14 for-profit companies.

“OCLC started out 40 years ago as a library cooperative, but it has become a corporate monopoly.” said SkyRiver’s President Leslie Straus. “In the process OCLC has punished its own members who have tried to seek out lower cost alternatives like SkyRiver.”

SkyRiver is joined in the lawsuit by Innovative Interfaces, Inc., a library automation company. The suit also addresses OCLC’s anticompetitive behavior in the integrated library systems market.

SkyRiver was launched in October 2009 to provide a high quality, low cost alternative to OCLC cataloging, potentially allowing customers to achieve savings of up to 40%. The complaint details how public sector SkyRiver customers, like Michigan State University and California State University, Long Beach, turned to SkyRiver to achieve cost savings, only to have OCLC quote them a price increase of over 1100% to upload their holdings to OCLC’s WorldCat database for the benefit of other interlibrary loan (ILL) users. Straus concludes, “If allowed to continue unabated, OCLC’s actions can have the effect of eliminating competition and taking away choice for libraries. They will not succeed.”

A printable version of the press release can be found [here]

For more information about the SkyRiver’s lawsuit and the issue of choice for libraries in the marketplace for library software and services, visit Twitter users are encouraged to use hashtag #skyoclc.