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Science Publishers' Overassertion of Copyright -- Apparently Properly Smacked Down:

The Scientific American blog has the scoop. Here's an excerpt, but go to the post for many links, and for more details:

[O]n Tuesday, over at the ScienceBlog Retrospectacle, neuroscience PhD student Shelley Batts ... posted an analysis of a study appearing in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, which suggested that the antioxidants properties in fruits were boosted by alcohol. In other words, as this UPI article exclaims: Strawberry daiquiris, a healthier cocktail.

Great news, right? Although Batts -- bravely eschewing the press release -- did a thorough read of the article and found that, sure, co-mingling ethanol with strawberries and blueberries both better preserves fruit and heightens its anti-oxidant effect, but that among the other compounds tested, ethanol was neither the most effective at staving off decay nor the best at boosting anti-oxidants. Surprise, the findings were overstated by the mainstream press (as well as in the press release, courtesy of the Society of Chemical Industry.)

On Wednesday, Batts received a letter from the journal's publisher, John Wiley & Sons, demanding that she pull a single graph and a single chart that were included in the paper, and which she'd posted in her explanation of the work. The letter read:

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.

As Batts then pulled down the graph and table -- she's since reposted both -- she sent out the Bat-signal in the blogosphere and a swarm of citizen journalists angry at the man flocked to her side, brandishing much invective. Long story short, big dogs like Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing weighed in, and, wham! -- within 24 hours, Wiley had tucked its tail between its legs and proved that Lars Ulrich of Metallica, it was not....

Thanks to Steve Erickson for the pointer.

K Parker (mail):
Good grief! A single chart and a single graph reproduced from the work being commented on? If that's not fair use, then fair use simply doesn't exist. JW&S should be more than embarrassed--they should fire their law firm or in-house counsel and get better ones.
4.30.2007 5:27pm
lucia (mail) (www):
I'm glad she had enough readership to bring this to the attention of people who could come to her aid.

For what it's worth, my sister and I both read the newspaper articles. We were both thrilled to read that strawberry daiquiris are the new "health" food! We're hoping tequila will be found to improve the health benefits of limes and, with luck, rum makes coke healthy.
4.30.2007 7:04pm
Malcolm (mail) (www):
The Scientific American blog has reinterpreted the result slightly, in favor of Wiley. If you look at the response Wiley sent out, they concluded the mess by "granting their permission" to have the result published. This isn't quite the same as acknowledging they had no grounds to deny, or even ask for a request for, permission in the first place. As pointed out in a later blog posting from Shelley, it's even clearer once somebody realised that the contract between Wiley and University of Michigan (where she is a student) specifically allows reuse for academic research, so she doesn't even need to resort to a "fair use" affirmative defense.
4.30.2007 9:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Funny Scientific American ignored fair use when it threatened legal action against Bjorn Lomborg, and just last recently against Greenspirit over the same material. After Lomborg published his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist in 2001, an article appeared in the January 2002 issue of Scientific American called Science Defends Itself Against Bjorn Lomborg. (As if somehow Scientific American speaks for science). This article was a savage, mendacious attack on Lomborg's book. Since SA give him only a small space in a subsequent issue to respond, Lomborg posted a more complete and detailed response on his webpage. To make his reply more readable, he quoted small sections of the original text so the reader could follow in a point-counterpoint fashion. SA then a threatened legal action over copyright infringement. Lomborg removed the material, but you read the whole thing at the Greenspirit website. SA now threatens Greenspirit too.
5.1.2007 5:38am