Mike the Mad Biologist

Hit Wiley Publishing Hard

Hopefully, by now, the anti-Wiley blogswarm is getting geared up. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, ScienceBlogling Shelley over at Retrospectacle was threatened with a lawsuit by Wiley Interscience for reproducing part of a figure and a table (and why would they want to do that? She has such groovy taste in cars). Shelley has the best argument why it’s wrong for Wiley to do this:

But it leads me to ask the question: What really constitutes fair use? This is taxpayer-supported research, which should be available for all. If a blog properly gives credit, isn’t plagiarizing, and correctly summarizes data, isn’t that fair use?

Isn’t the point of publishing data to disseminate it, rather that lob threats at grad students who happen to be excited about it?

What’s galling about this is that not only is the research taxpayer-supported, but scientists give away the analysis and a lot of the hard work to the publishing companies for free. While some of the professional science writers around here might argue that they are paid very little for their writing, they don’t give it away for free. You would think science publishers might be a little more cautious about going after scientists when they make their money off of us. After all, Wiley isn’t writing the proposals, funding the research, analyzing the data, and writing the papers. They get all of that for free.

So what to do? Well, some are suggesting writing emails. ScienceBloging Mark writes:

There’s really nothing bloggers like us can do to stop publishers from pulling obnoxious stunts like this, except to publicize it, so that they realize there is some cost to them associated with this kind of behavior. That’s why I’m writing this. Wiley needs to recognize that as a publisher of scientific journals, it’s absolutely unreasonable and unacceptable to threaten lawsuits against other scientists who reference their work.

As bloggers, there isn’t much we can do. But as scientists, we can take them out at the fucking knees. Trash their impact factor. Don’t cite Wiley publications in your papers until they offer an apology. In most cases, you can find an alternate citation. So don’t cite Wiley.

Scientific publishers have to learn not to shit where they eat.

Update: It appears they’ve backed off. Good. I really didn’t want to not cite the articles….

Comments

  1. #1 Anonymous
    April 25, 2007

    Not citing Wiley publications would be immoral: it hurts Wiley, which I think is a good thing, but it hurts the authors of the uncited papers more, as well as the readers of your paper.

    Reader have a right to be pointed to the relevant literature. Authors have a right to have their contributions acknowledged. Of course, there are lots of gray areas. If there are several standard textbooks or survey papers, all more or less equally good, then citing a non-Wiley one seems perfectly reasonable. However, as a general rule which papers you cite should not be determined by non-scientific factors.

  2. #2 Jongpil Yun
    April 26, 2007

    I agree with Anonymous 100%. Don’t stoop to Wiley’s level and play politics with science. Citations should be decided entirely on merit.

  3. #3 Jan W. Schoones
    April 26, 2007

    I disagree if Shelley did not ask for permission first. The golden rule: if anyone wants to use material which is owned by someone else, one should ask for permission first. Nowadays, more and more people are acting like information-thieves, probably because they do not care of they do not want to spend time on doing the right thing.

    Cordially,

    Jan

  4. #4 Scott Simmons
    April 26, 2007

    Jan–

    “Fair use” does not require asking of permission. The exemptions are there partly to permit critics of the work in question to cite the exact item they are criticizing. If permission from the publisher is required, they can simply withhold permission from critical reviewers and provide it freely to sycophants. (Which, BTW, appears to be exactly what happened in this case–after Shelley took down the chart, she requested permission from the publisher to include it, and was rebuffed. Speculation is that her review was not positive enough …)

    Authors and publishers have the right to restrict others from re-printing items they have copyright to in whole or in substantial part, or for profit. They do not own the words they publish, only the paper they’re printed on; and their rights as the copyright holder do not include the ability to restrict the sort of reprinting referred to here. There are gray areas–how much is too much for “fair use”?–but this example isn’t anywhere near them.

  5. #5 Ambitwistor
    April 26, 2007

    I wonder if the authors of this paper are aware that Wiley is hindering useful promotion and discussion of their work …

  6. #6 Edward
    April 26, 2007

    Well, while I appreciate the point, I’d rather not trash Wiley: I have a number of publications in their journals. Not citing them would probably hurt me more than them. So I’m just as glad to see this has blown over. But what’d this “give for free” thing? I have to PAY to get papers published by them.

    Last time I read the agreement I sign with them, it gives me the right to make copies of my papers to give to others, make copies for classes and seminars I give, etc. I do remember that, with a different publisher, I had to get permission to include a paper I’d written as a chapter in my dissertation.

    It used to be that copyright and patent law protected authors and innovators. Increasingly, however, it seems to me that they are being used to control the flow of information and milk people for money. Corporations buy up patents and copyrights and then lobby to extend the time they apply so they can continue to milk them for money. And don’t get me started on how stupid it is that a gene can be patented…. Never mind that it’s like patenting water, some of these patents have caused harm: The BRCA patenet actually has hampered screening because of the largest part of the cost of the test is the royalty fee demanded by the patent holders.

    Right now in the US, copyrights are good for the life of the author plus 70 years or 95 years from publication for corporate authorship, and many publishers and media companies would like to see that extended. I think those numbers are already too high. Efforts like the BMC and PLoS journals are succeeding, I think, in large part because of the restrictive attitude taken by corporate publishers on copyright law.

  7. #7 Scorpio
    April 26, 2007

    Well, just for a start it is probably way inside the fair use amount. It’s a pity Wylie is joining the RIAA like that.

  8. #8 bitkisel ürünler
    May 18, 2009

    Last time I read the agreement I sign with them, it gives me the right to make copies of my papers to give to others, make copies for classes and seminars I give, etc. I do remember that, with a different publisher, I had to get permission to include a paper I’d written as a chapter in my dissertation

  9. #9 erotik shop
    May 27, 2009

    Right now in the US, copyrights are good for the life of the author plus 70 years or 95 years from publication for corporate authorship, and many publishers and media companies would like to see that extended. I think those numbers are already too high. Efforts like the BMC and PLoS journals are succeeding, I think, in large part because of the restrictive attitude taken by corporate publishers on copyright law

  10. #10 şişme bebek
    June 5, 2009

    Right now in the US, copyrights are good for the life of the author plus 70 years or 95 years from publication for corporate authorship, and many publishers and media companies would like to see that extended. I think those numbers are already too high. Efforts like the BMC and PLoS journals are succeeding, I think, in large part because of the restrictive attitude taken by corporate publishers on copyright law

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    October 30, 2009

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  12. #12 pimapen
    November 22, 2009

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    January 26, 2010

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    February 18, 2010

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