LibraryJournal.com is reporting that Cornell University in Ithaca, New York has announced it will no longer sign contracts with publishers that contain nondisclosure agreements inhibiting Cornell's ability to communicate with others about the price and licensing terms applicable to content such as journal subscriptions and databases. You can click here to read the Cornell press release: http://news.library.cornell.edu/news/110323/nondisclosure.
“Libraries should be able to talk to each other about the details of these contracts. It’s as simple as that,” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. “When contracts are kept secret, institutions cannot negotiate effectively.”
As Cornell notes, NDAs often cover more than price, governing the way content can be used and how it’s accessed. Public institutions’ agreements can be requested through the Freedom of Information Act. Cornell has already put the new policy into action, deferring renewal on one contract until the NDA clause was removed and foregoing another publication because the publisher would not remove the clause.
This will be an interesting topic to follow. Sure, publishers want to protect pricing and terms negotiated with one customer from use by other customers and potential customers. But now the customers are striking back and refusing to purchase. We'll see who hangs strong and who doesn't.
NOTE: This blogger attended law school at Cornell and the picture above is of the law library.