Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Who Owns the Data?

 
Shelley Batts was threatened with legal action for posting a figure and a table from a scientific paper [When Fair Use Isn't Fair]. This is an important issue that's only going to get worse on science blogs. My own feeling is that it's fair use to post stuff from papers in the scientific literature as long as it is properly attributed.

One of the advantages of the online journals is that they specifically allow this. Here's the official word from the PLoS website.

Everything we publish is freely available online throughout the world, for you to read, download, copy, distribute, and use (with attribution) any way you wish. No permission required.
If large corporations like John Wiley & Sons are going to threaten to sick lawyers on bloggers like Shelley then we'll just have to ignore everything that's published in their journals. That's what I'm going to do from now on.

[Hat Tip: Gene Expression]

4 comments :

  1. I'm not sure copyright ever made much sense in science. Citations and discussions are beneficial, and there are systems of review and slander :-) protecting against copy theft.

    Kudos for mentioning this, and it seems Shelley is no worse for wear.

    Online publishing, archives and copyleft is da' future! It seems old Wiley wants to make sure it will happen fast.

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  2. A total boycott seems a little extreme (this could, after all, have been an ill-conceived approach taken by one person low on the food chain), but Wiley should be aware that an increasing number of scientists -- that is, the authors and reviewers for their journals -- read and participate on blogs. I have reviewed a half dozen articles for Wiley journals, but this sort of thing makes me think twice about how I will prioritize review requests in the future.

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  3. I often see lab websites that have PDF version of their papers freely available (which you'd have to pay for on the journals website). I've always thought was a serious copyright violation.

    Publishing a figure or two, on the other hand, seems like fair use.

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  4. TR Gregory says,

    A total boycott seems a little extreme (this could, after all, have been an ill-conceived approach taken by one person low on the food chain), but Wiley should be aware that an increasing number of scientists -- that is, the authors and reviewers for their journals -- read and participate on blogs.

    I'm going to be meeting with some Wiley people this weekend. I can't wait to find out what they think.

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