Mixing Memory

Fair Use

In case you haven’t heard about it already, fellow ScienceBlogger and neuroblogger Shelley has been threatened by lawyers for using images from a journal article in her blog posts. Now, I do this all the time (check two posts back), because the whole point of posting about research is so that people who probably aren’t reading the cog sci literature can learn about and evaluate theories and studies. My main reason for blogging is promoting this stuff, not stealing journals’, authors’, or publishers’ thunder. Letting people see figures that are a pain to reproduce in Excel or R (like large tables) is sometimes necessary for people to see what’s going on without me writing three long paragraphs full of numbers, making everyone yawn and move on to something else. Not being a legal expert, I’ve always assumed that my own use of figures and quotes fell under the protection of “fair use,” and that most authors and journals would be glad to see their work getting some publicity, even if it’s only on my lowly blog. In fact, I’ve gotten emails from authors of studies I’ve written about thanking me. I suspect that Shelley has as well.


  1. #1 CA
    April 26, 2007

    How is “quoting” a graphic from a cited source on a blog different than the info quoted from cited sources in the original articles? Or did the lawyers represent publications with articles that didn’t have bibliographies?

  2. #2 Tim
    April 26, 2007

    I’m not surprised. I published a paper a few years back where I was modeling data from other papers. I reproduced their data in new graphs and was still forced to get the original publisher’s permission by the APA!

  3. #3 Clark
    April 26, 2007

    Journals are running scared. They charge outrageous fees for their magazines which make no sense in this day of electronic publishing. We really ought get all science and philosophy to follow the lead of physics in having an open public repository.

    Anyway, this is journals trying to stop the openness of information to maintain their monopoly. A monopoly quite at odds with the purported aims and methods of science.

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