Update: The issue has been resolved amicably and Shelley has some further thoughts. And some even more further thoughts. The discussion will continue here on Scienceblogs and elsewhere in the follwoing days….
If you read other Scienceblogs and not just me, you are likely quite aware of the “Wiley Affair”, but if you are not here is a quick summary:
My esteemed colleague here at scienceblogs, Shelley Batts of the Retrospectacle blog, did what we all do all the time – what is one of the primary role of science blogs: compared what a scientific paper says to what the press releases and media say about the paper. It was a paper widely reported by the press about the potential health effects of drinks like daikiri. Shelley wrote in her post that the paper is fine, but that the media coverage is faulty (what’s new?). In order to demonstrate what the paper really says, she, as we often do, reprinted a table and one panel of a figure from the paper in her post.
Then, all hell broke lose, and some low-level administrative assistant, probably instructed by someone in the scientific society that edits the journal, threatened Shelley with Wiley (publisher of the journal) lawyers, citing copyright infrindgement. Shelley replaced the images with her own, Excel-drawn figures (fortunately, this was one of the rare occasions when paper actually contains all the raw data needed to make a graph). Her polite e-mail to the person elicited just a short, impolite response repeating the request to remove the images. Shelley’s e-mail to the Wiley lawyer remains, as of time of this writing, unanswered.
Now, this is something that really goes against the direction in which science reporting is heading getting more and more open and free – and directly threatens science blogging, so it is not surprising that we are all piling up on Wiley and the journal about this.
Janet Stemwedel, Rob Knop, Mike the Mad Biologist, Suzanne Franks, John Wilkins, Jason Rosenhouse, Orac, Mark Chu-Carroll, Chris, Afarensis and Razib have all jumped in Shelley’s defense with thoughtful posts. John Pieret discovered that, ironically, Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks For Dummies was published by Wiley. John Hawks gives an excellent cool-headed perspective, which was followed up by Guru. Check out more good responses by Bill Hooker, Duane Smith, PithLord, Tyler DiPietro, Larry Moran, Richard Baker, 0xDE, Razib, Romunov, Reed Cartwright, Rebecca Hartong, Corey Tomsons, R. W. Donnell, Rory Hester, Jen and Dan.
Images are not the only problem in question, and we have discussed some of those issues, e.g., the hiring of the nastiest, filthiest PR guy by Elsevier, Wiley and the American Chemical Society here, here, here and here. This is related to the efforts of the old media to marginalize blogs in every way as long as possible, as in the case of accessibility to embargoed papers by EurekAlert.
As I said before here:
While the world is moving towards an Open Science model of exchange of scientific information, there are, as expected, forces that are trying to oppose it. Whenever there is a movement to change any kind of system, those most likely to lose will make a last-ditch and nasty effort to temporarily derail the progress. So, in this case, the Big Science Publishers have decided, instead of joining the new world of Open Science and using their brand names, their know-how and their infrastructure to become the leaders in the new system, and instead opted to go all mean and nasty. Once they finally lose, they’ll lose for good and it will not be pretty
Information always wants to be free. In this day and age, due to technology, it can. Just try saying ‘macaca’ or singing “Bomb Iran’ and see what happens! Very few lawsuits against blogs regarding copyright (or libel) have actually gone through, but in those few, bloggers won. The same applies to the science publishers adhering to the old model. They are feeling the heat (and apparently starting to respond). People are moving away from their journals and submitting to Open Source journals instead. PLoS-Biology is already 14th and moving up on the impact list (as flawed as it is, it can be used as a quick-and-dirty method for seeing trends). In a year or two, it will threaten ‘Science’ for the top spot. There is a growing number of people, like Jonathan A. Eisen who refuses to publish in ‘Science’, who are embracing Open Source publishing. The old model will crumble and the dinosaurs can choose to adapt or go extinct.
Update: More reactions from Revere, Sandra Kiume, Chad Orzel, Chris Rowan, Dave Munger, Abel Pharmboy, Steve Higgins, Dan, Pedro Beltrao, Matsu, John Pieret, Neil Saunders, Kristjan Wager, Bill LaLonde, Lab Cat and Gosecondlife.
And Shelley has another word.
This is going to spread very wide, as Cory Doctorow has also linked and commented.
More blogosopheric responses: Jonathan Eisen (who thinks I am a ‘she’, but OK), Rob Knop, Euan Adie’s blog on Nature, Reed Cartwright, Neurocritic, u(n)PHYSICal, Howard Rheingold, Jake Young, John Lynch, Tara C. Smith, Josh Rosenau, Martin Rundkvist, Steinn Sigurðsson, Alex Palazzo, Jason Rosenhouse, PZ Myers, John Dupuis, Gail, Jonathan Badger, Intothestacks, DigitalKoans, Deepak Singh, Stew, Drugmonkey, Krish, John Hawks, Yanowhiz, Daniel, Jason, Fjodor, Pedro Beltrao, BruceG, Jeff Fleck, Romunov, AverageEarthman, Arunn, Lindsay Beyerstein, Anonymous Coward and Johan.