Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fair use and science blogging

Most of you are probably aware that Shelley from Retrospectacle got into some trouble because she used a figure from a science journal in one of her posts.

I am not a lawyer, and I don't even play one on the internet, so I can't say if her use of the figure fell within fair use or not. However, I can say how I feel about it. Given the fact that Shelley didn't misrepresent the data, take credit for it, or in any other way used the figure in a negative way (except for using it to prove a point), I can't see what John Wiley & Sons hoped to achive by sending the mail. The only result they've reached seems to be a load of negative goodwill in response to a minimum gain (the figure was replaced by Shelley's own).

As a person who lives of my intellectual property (computer code), I am firmly on the side on defending such. This wasn't such a case.

As an aside, Orac actually got a comment based upon the same premise to this post.

At the risk of seeming unappreciative: Scientific American's lawyers do usually frown on the use of its graphics without permission--strictly speaking, it isn't a violation of our rights so much as it is of the artist's. I don't think she'd mind in this case, but can I offer a shout of appreciation to the terrific Jen Christiansen, who drew that illustration?

There was a difference though - in Orac's case it was about a drawing (where the artist's rights are infringed), while in Shelley's place, it was a figure. There is a difference (and the reaction was much smarter).

There is no doubt that intellectual property and science blogging can be at odds some times, but I am sure that these issues can be solved in a way satisfactory to all parts - that's, however, not done by treatening legal action without any dialogue.

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