ATG Interviews Patrick C. Sommers

President, Gale, part of Cengage Learning
by Katina Strauch (Editor, Against the Grain) kstrauch@comcast.net

ATG: We have read all the press reports about EBSCO’s exclusive licensing agreement with Time, Inc., and Forbes. We have also read Gale’s open letter about the exclusive agreement. As I understand this, Time, Inc. asked for the exclusivity via an RFP? Is that correct?

PS: Time Inc. was looking for a single partner with whom to distribute their content into the library market. In our discussions with them, it was clear that it was immaterial to them whether the winning bidder sub-licensed the content to other information providers. This is the key differentiator in the bids they received. Gale submitted a bid that exceeded their “asking price,” and it included the rights for us to sub-license to other information providers. Our intent was to share content with our competitors to ensure fair access for all library users. The winning bid, as we understand it, was well in excess of what the publisher requested in its RFP, and access, as has been announced, will be restricted to one aggregator. As for Forbes, we did have the opportunity to bid for the content, but it was late in the process and we pushed our way into the process. Another information provider proactively approached the publisher with an exclusive bid and attempted to preclude others from bidding. To Forbes’ credit, they did not seek an exclusive agreement, and they did allow us to bid as we did for Time — for rights to redistribute their content to all information providers to ensure fair access for all. Unfortunately, the other aggregator bid an even higher amount to keep the content for themselves. As we’ve stated, we believe this runs counter to fair-access principles that libraries value so much.

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