1. OCLC has monopolies in the US academic library market
"OCLC is monopolizing three product or service markets—bibliographic data of libraries’ holdings; cataloging service; and interlibrary lending service (ILL). OCLC is attempting to monopolize a fourth service market—integrated library systems (ILS)." p. 12. OCLC has used those monopoly positions to prevent competition
"Since at least 1987, OCLC has demanded that its member libraries agree to terms of membership that prohibit sharing the metadata of their own library holdings contributed to OCLC’s bibliographic database known as WorldCat with any for-profit firms for commercial use and require member libraries to use OCLC’s services. OCLC has imposed these membership terms to prevent the development of competing bibliographic databases, cataloging services or ILL services by erecting barriers to entry in these three markets. OCLC is also using its monopoly power in these three markets in its attempt to monopolize the ILS market." p.13. OCLC has targeted SkyRiver's business by using punitive pricing for libraries that use SkyRiver's cataloging services
"OCLC’s conduct has injured SkyRiver by deterring libraries from using its service, and has injured libraries that are using SkyRiver to reduce costs by preventing those libraries from uploading their new records into WorldCat at the price charged to everyone except SkyRiver users." p. 2Beyond that the arguments become more complex. In particular there is the issue of the 20+ years that OCLC has been building up WorldCat under a policy that has prohibited (acc. to the response, p.4) libraries from sharing their cataloging data with for-profit entities. With no other non-profit entity providing cataloging services to US academic libraries, the records are essentially locked-up in WorldCat and no one else can enter the market.
This brings me to a point that I got wrong in a previous post, which is that Skyriver is asking for access to the WorldCat database. The argument there, if I read it correctly, is that WorldCat is the only major source of academic library holdings that can be used for an effective ILL service. WorldCat is the result of monopoly practices. To allow for competition, WorldCat (e.g. bibliographic data and holdings) should be made available for a reasonable price to competing ILL providers. While this seems jarring at first, the more I think about it the more sense it makes.
What the response does not say explicitly, and perhaps it would be irrelevant in a legal case, is that one could look on WorldCat as a shared community resource, not the property of OCLC. In fact, OCLC uses this kind of argument in its record use policy, but somehow leads to the conclusion that WorldCat should not be used to foster non-OCLC library services. It seems easy to make the opposite argument, which would be that WorldCat could be the basis for a wide range of services that would benefit libraries, even if they do not come from OCLC. Imagine if OCLC were to set non-discriminatory pricing for use of WorldCat and anyone could make use of the WorldCat data. There could be a "share-alike" clause that would require those users to return pertinent information to the bibliographic collective. WorldCat would grow, and the range of products and services available to libraries would grow. This seems like a GOOD THING.
I realize it may not be easy to do the analysis that would lead to pricing that both fosters sharing and makes it possible even for small businesses* to arise in the library market. It should be possible, given today's technology, to do this efficiently but we know very little about the cost structure of WorldCat. It is clear that there are many activities relating to the care and management of that database, all intertwined with OCLC services and valuable research projects, as well as linked deeply into tens of thousands of library systems around the world. Should the court require OCLC to open WorldCat for use, we need to see a transition that is non-destructive to the library ecology.
* The reason I emphasize small businesses is that I believe that smaller, more nimble vendors could exist to serve the needs of specialized and smaller libraries which are not OCLC members at this time. I see the potential to widen the community of sharing, even to include more non-library institutions and businesses. Another GOOD THING, IMO.