Re: PRICE GOUGING or GOOD BUSINESS?

Kristine R. Brancolini (brancoli@indiana.edu)
Wed, 3 Apr 1996 22:39:40 -0500 (EST)

I agree completely with Ralph. I have experienced this situation many
times. I'm often up against a wall because a faculty member really wants
the tape for instructional purposes. If it's not a faculty request, I
don't buy. A case in point was _Weapons of the Spirit_. I really wanted
that tape, but the "institutional" price was something like $425 and the
home video price was something like $75. I tried the same approach,
telling the filmmaker (who was self-distributing at this time) that I
didn't want or need public performance rights and I wouldn't pay an
institutional price. I tried to explain that he probably wouldn't sell
many copies to individuals for $75 and having it in my library would
promote the tape. Well, as he had just won an Academy Award, he didn't
think he needed the publicity and wouldn't back down on the price. I
didn't buy it.

Another situation turned out differently. An anthropoligist/filmmaker,
Sabine Bahl-Jellsen, distributes some of her tapes herself and U. of
California Extension handles one. A prof here wanted me to buy four.
Same deal. The home video price was about $40 and the "institutional"
price was about $200. We called to try to talk her into giving us the
home video price; we don't need PPR. She wouldn't budge. She tried to
tell me that by having the tape in the library, she loses sales. I
pointed out to her that we don't pay higher prices for books and I resent
paying higher prices for videotapes. She just didn't get my point.
Result: I bought the tape from University of California, because I get
excellent service from Dan Bickley, with a liberal replacement policy.
who knows what I would get from her?

I'm sure other librarians in all types of libraries have had similar
experiences. I'm surprised this is the first time it's happened to you.
So my policy is the same as Ralph's. As a rule, I won't pay an
institutional price, but if the professor insists, I always call the
distributor to complain. If it's a major company, instead of just an
individual with a handful of titles, I would follow up with a letter, and
I would tell everyone here the name of the company.

BTW, that rubbish about cumulative use constituting a public performance
is an outright fantasy, designed to convince you that they have good
reason to charge you more money. It is fiction. If all your users watch
at home or in conditions covered by fair use (in a classroom, for
example), you do not need public performance rights.

Kristine Brancolini
Indiana University Libraries
brancoli@indiana.edu