Thursday, April 26, 2007

How can a publisher be so dumb - Update

I posted a while ago about copyright policies of different science publishers regarding images. I concluded by saying that in any case we should be safe to blog images since no publisher would likely sue a blogger for using an image or two to promote one of their papers. Well ... apparently I was wrong. Shelley Batts from Retrospectable got an email from an editor of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (published by Wiley Interscience):

"The above article contains copyrighted material in the form of a table and graphs taken from a recently published paper in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. If these figures are not removed immediately, lawyers from John Wiley & Sons will contact you with further action."

This is not a legal action but the threat is there. I cannot see what they were thinking. Are they really willing to sue a blogger for what is very likely fair use of their content? The content used is a small fraction of the whole, the blog post is educational and most likely has increased the traffic to that paper. If anything this email just bought them a lot of indignation and it will be a PR nightmare for the journal and the publisher.

Science bloggers are doing a great service of covering science news, faster and more in depth than most traditional news services. Every time I have a look these days at the first page of Postgenomic I see there what is going to be the main science stories of the next day in the normal news outlets. Not only that but I will likely find someone that actually works on the subject and can give a very good explanation of what the work is about. Publishers should be fostering this by crafting policies directed at this use of their material not the other way around.

If you want to contact the editor that made the decision the email is on Shelley's post.

There is a large number of posts reacting to this in Postgenomic.

Update - Boing Boing is giving coverage to this too. If you also think that this was a bad decision from the journal editor/publisher consider writing about it or sending them an email. Even if it is within their legal right to do so we can at least tell them that we don't find this appropriate or fair.