As an open source/standards advocate I have communicated the evils of vendor lock-in. I came across this example tidbit in Ed Foster's 2/13 GripeLine column in InfoWorld:
In 2003, the U.S. Air Force held an open bidding for a post-warranty service contract on about $80 million worth of Eaton Powerware UPS (uninterruptible power supply) equipment it had purchased. Air Force officials were surprised when Powerware informed them that proprietary service software is required to fully maintain the UPS equipment and that Powerware would not provide that software to any of the third-party bidders or to the Air Force itself.
The Air Force had no choice but to award the contract to Powerware, costing taxpayers more than $20 million over what other firms were prepared to bid.
The lockout software is essentially a laptop-based replacement for the physical instrumentation and controls that used to come on UPS equipment and is required for getting complete internal readings and calibrating performance settings. According the the report, the requirement is not disclosed in product literature, their web site, or anytime during the purchasing process.
While I have not heard of any library vendors that have resorted to this tactic, it does go to show what a vendor can and will do to protect market share and revenue stream.
As the tools to create applications become more mainstream, and standards become more open, this strategy is one that libraries need to be aware of. Those encountering such undisclosed licensing issues need to communicate their experiences to the rest of the community in order to prevent other libraries from falling prey to such tactics.
Sphere: Related Content