Re: Discovery Channel

Jim Scholtz (
Sat, 11 Mar 2000 10:23:43 -0800 (PST)

I have to horn in here on this issue. At our library we purchase on a
credit card at various times - ranging from convenience to necessity. For
example, the programs "Hooked on Phonics" and various Internet filtering
software are purchased more easily on a credit card. The PhoneDisc CD is
also purchased more easily ousing a personal credit card. It's not always
easy to say "if you don't like a vendor/dist. policy to not buy their
stuff. Through the years, (20 years+) I've tried various tactics (lived
through 16mm/video pricing, 2/3-tiered pricing, institutional pricing,
lease agreements (remember Direct Cinima?) no P.O.s accepted, etc.)
including: talking to a sales rep and trying to explain institutional
exceptions, writing a letter to the CEO/Sales force trying to get them to
change, and the like. If the company deals in home use video, an
institution might as well forget trying to change a policy because the
amount of money involved to that company is miniscule! - they will not
change. Sometimes, the lack of change is because the company personnel do
not know how to handle institutions and other times its just that they know
that they can get more money out of them. That in itself is wrong - but
not illegal (not really price gouging). Even if you use a personal credit
card and are able to be reimbursed by your organization/institution, I
don't see the unethical nature of the transaction - people give gifts to
the libraries every day. If it is a legally made copy and falls under the
First Sale doctrine (isn't part of a lease, etc.), it can be purchased
within any library setting as long as it is used within copyright

I'll give you specific instances - Hooked on Phonics initially wouldn't
sell to libraries - we had to use a personal credit card, get reimbursed
and add it to the collection. A few years later, they starated selling to
schools and libraries. They just didn't want to deal with P.O.s. For
years, Films, Inc. had 2-tiered pricing - one for public libraries, 1 for
universities, 1 for home use (price was different), but many companies had
2-tiered pricing but the rights were the same. The Discovery titles you
speak of are probably available through a jobber such as B&T (with home use
rights), but we buy from our local Walmart store all the time! As for
PhoneDisc obtained from InfoUSA - that's a story - in the past, the library
has purchased the CD-ROM set for as little as $79 (6 CD-ROMs) - single use,
school/library price $649-$800 depending on the sales person you talk to.
Calling up and ordering over the 800#, saying your buying for the library
using a personal credit card now get you the set for $150. Why would
anyone buy this product on a P.O. - it's inconceivable!! When I wrote a
book a video pricing, I talked to many vendors about this issue, and I
couldn't fathom some of the responses - why would you want to charge more
for a video to an institution than an individual, expecially when the same
rights are involved? Also, just as a matter of course, if the vendor would
lower the price, they would probably sell more copies than selling the same
title at a higher price (make more money in the end. I know it's not as
simple as that and costs of production are expensive, sales of independent
videos have a finite market, etc. Sorry that I've belabored the point, but
I'm with Gary H. on this issue.
I want to be legal and ethical at the same time, but I also have an
obligation to provide my patrons with the best programming available. I
certainly won't knowinly have illegally made copies of anything in our
library, but methods of purchase, as long as legally obtained are up for
grabs in my book. Jim Scholtz.

- you n a CDAt 09:11 AM 3/11/00 -0800, you wrote:
>Am I the only one who is stunned by the recent postings that describe in
>detail how to break the law!
> What is being encouraged goes well beyond ethics -- it's both immoral
>and fraudulent. If you don't like a distributor's policy don't buy
>their products.