ARCHIVED: Comments Sought on "Public Draft" of AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers

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June 20, 2002


The AALL Special Committee on Fair Business Practices is pleased to announce that it has completed a "public draft" of the AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers and is now seeking comments from all AALL members and other interested parties. The public draft is available on the CRIVPage, the Web site of AALL's Committee on Relations with Information Vendors, at http://www.aallnet.org/committee/criv/resources/fairpractice/publicdraft.pdf.

BACKGROUND: On January 19, 2000, the Federal Trade Commission rescinded its Guides for the Law Book Industry (16 C.F.R. pt. 256). The guides had served as a standard of acceptable practices by legal information providers. In rescinding the guides, the FTC stated that: "Industry associations or purchaser associations, such as AALL or AALS, can adopt guides of their own to educate sellers and purchasers about the information purchasers of legal reference materials need to make purchasing decisions. Indeed, eliminating the Guides may provide the incentive for these associations to develop their own guides that address their members' most important concerns." The full text of FTC rescission is available at http://www.aallnet.org/committee/criv/resources/ftc/ftcfinal.htm.

Pursuant to strategic direction 4 of the 2000-2005 Strategic Plan, AALL leadership appointed a Special Committee on Fair Business Practices to "respond to the expressed need for a set of guidelines for law publishers doing business with librarians and other consumers of legal information." The committee embarked on a process designed to realize a primary initiative of strategic direction 4: "a model code of fair business practices for legal publishers that is an accepted standard in the industry." In fall 2001, the committee invited all interested parties to submit their suggestions for provisions that ought to be included in an AALL fair business practices guide. The committee carefully studied the suggestions it received prior to meeting in early January to discuss the content and structure of the guide and to begin the drafting process. Drafting continued through multiple iterations throughout the spring. The result of that process is the "public draft" released today.

INVITATION: The committee now invites written comments and suggestions on the public draft of the AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers. To ensure that a full range of views is received, the committee seeks input from the broad spectrum of individuals and organizations interested in and affected by the business practices of legal publishers as they relate to librarians and other consumers of legal information. Written comments should be submitted by July 15 to Frank Houdek, Chair, AALL Special Committee on Fair Business Practices, Southern Illinois University School of Law, Carbondale, Illinois 629016803; phone: 618/4538788; fax: 618/4538728; e-mail: houdek@siu.edu. Submission by e-mail, fax, or letter is acceptable, though e-mail is preferred.

In addition to this period of written comment, the committee will conduct a "town meeting" at the AALL Annual Meeting in Orlando on July 22 from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to share their views about the draft directly with the committee.

After considering both the written comments and the suggestions received at the town meeting, the committee will prepare a final version of the guide, along with implementation recommendations, and submit it to the AALL Executive Board for approval at the board's meeting in November.

AALL Special Committee on Fair Business Practices
Frank Houdek, Chair
Kathy Carlson
Chris Graesser
Kay Todd
Michelle Wu