Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Truth Is a Perfect Defense

Dummies copytrite
Update: Shelley has received an apology (of sorts) and permission to use the material. Power to the blogers!
Shelley Batts of Retrospectacle was sent a threatening email by one Lisa Richards, an "Editorial Assistant" of that world-renowned publication, the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (All together now! Whaa?).

It seems that Shelley wrote a brief article that used an image from a graph taken from a study published in that journal. As I understand it, Shelley's article was not even critical of the study but she was, in fact, really writing about the reaction in the popular press that "Alcohol 'makes fruit healthier'."

It is clear that, even if by some stretch of the law, Shelley's use was not protected under "fair use," it was an utterly minor violation without any financial damages to the publisher. In fact, it would have only served to bring this obscure journal to the attention of a wider audience.

But hey! Guess what! There is one of those "For Dummies" books about copyrights: Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks For Dummies.

And guess who it is published by: Wiley Publishing, Inc., which is an American subsidiary of John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. who ... you got it ... are the publishers of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Looks like a slight adjustment in the title is necessary...


P.S. And Lisa, just in case you get any bright ideas ... I'm a lawyer and I know my right to publish parody.
P.P.S. Here are other bloggers who are upset by this. If you are too, join 'Fair Use' Piling on Tomorrow: Take Part!:
Mark Chu-Carroll at Good Math, Bad Math
Razib at Gene Expression
Orac from Respectful Insolence
Tyler at Greedy, Greedy Algorithms
Romonov at romunov’s blog et al
Zuska of Thus Spake Zuska
Richard Baker of Sharp Blue
Jason Rosenhouse of Evolutionblog
Reed A. Cartwright at The Panda's Thumb and De Rerum Natura
Rebecca Hartong of Fantasies, Epiphanies, Rants ...
Corey Tomsons at Thought Capital
Dan at
Dan at (2nd)
Guru at Entertaining Research
Rob Knop at Galactic Interactions
Jen at Synthesis of Thought
Afarensis at Afarensis
Mike at Mike the Mad Biologist
Rory Hester at Kitchen Table Math and Parentalcation
RW Donnell at Notes from Dr. RW
Bill at Semnoma
Dr. Free Ride at Adventures in Ethics and Science
Bora at A Blog Around the Clock
John Wilkins at Evolving Thoughts
Chris of Mixing Memory
Duane Smith of Telecomtally
PithLord at Pith and Substance
Larry Moran at Sandwalk
nsaunders at What You’re Doing Is Rather Desperate
Pedro Beltrão at Public Rambling
Matsu at Matsu’s World: The One Less Traveled
Kristjan Wager at Pro-science
Sandra Kiume at Omni Brain
Jim River Report
Lab Cat at Lab Cat
Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing
0xDE at Live Journal
Revere at Effect Measure
Chad Orzel at Uncertain Principles
Chris Rowan at Highly Allochthonous
Dave Munger at Cognitive Daily
Abel Pharmboy at Terra Sigillata
Steve Higgins at Omni Brain
Bill LaLonde at Oaksong's Nemeton
Deepak Singh at bbgm
P.P.P.S. John Hawks is in general agreement but has some quibbles based on the fact that the ScienceBlogs have advertisements and, therefore, may have less leeway than noncommercial sites. While it is true that, in a close case, a court might be more disposed towards a use that wasn't generating income in any way connected to the disputed material, the rules are basically the same in terms of fair use for commercial and noncommercial use. Also, the lack of income on the disputed material affects the damages that the plaintiff could collect. But that is pretty much it. I think that the commercial aspect is less of a distinction than Professor Hawks believes.

Thanks for the comment! I agree, in this case, it looks like the fair use doctrine should apply since the use was clearly linked to comment and critique and involved a small portion of the total. But although Wiley has been lead-handed, they aren't clearly outside their rights.

In any event, a good argument for open access!
Dobro napisano. Res.| Se strinjam
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