An injunction filed by STM publisher Elsevier, Netherlands, to block release of information included in a licensing contract between the publisher and Washington State University (WSU) was recently denied by a court in the state of Washington. A public-records request for contract terms had been submitted to the university by researchers gathering data on the terms of large-publisher bundled contracts.
Whitman County Superior Court ruled in favour of full disclosure for a public-records request submitted to Washington State University by Ted Bergstrom, Paul Courant, and Preston McAfee for license information regarding the WSU-Elsevier contract. On June 9, Elsevier had filed a Motion for Injunction against release of the data. According to court papers, the plaintiff argued that disclosure of the Elsevier-WSU contracts would 'disclose aspects of Elsevier's pricing methods and formula so as to produce private gain and public loss. Such disclosure would violate Elsevier's rights under Washington statutes…to preserve the confidentiality of its proprietary pricing methods and formulae.'
It is not enough for institutions to assume that public-records requests will ensure that information about contracts and licences can be made publicly accessible. Last month, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Board of Directors supported a resolution to encourage its members to refrain from signing nondisclosure agreements with publishers and to share information about their agreements, to the extent possible, with each other.
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