Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Tomorrow the hammer’s coming down hard over the ‘Fair Use’ issue, at ScienceBlogs and hopefully around the blogosphere. Quite a few of my fellow SciBlings have pledged to post about this issue, as it affects us all (not only all of us, but all of you too.)

If you were thinking about writing a post or an email or a naughty-word on a Post-It-Note, please do it tonight or tomorrow.

If you do put up a post, leave a link in the comments and good karma be thine.

UPDATE: I was contacted by the head of the journal, resolution here.


  1. #1 Gerard Harbison
    April 25, 2007

    I’m with you. I’m also on the editorial board of a Wiley journal; I’ll send in a letter of protest.

  2. #2 Shelley
    April 25, 2007

    Thank you Gerard!

  3. #3 David McCullough
    April 25, 2007

    Shelly, you run the most interesting blog I’ve seen in months.

  4. #4 Rich
    April 25, 2007

    I’ve had a post up since about ten minutes after I read your post. I’ve also emailed Lisa Richards to ask if she could outline Wiley’s understanding of “fair use”.

  5. #5 Shelley
    April 25, 2007

    David, thank you! 😀

    Rich, you rock! Thanks for sending that email too, much appreciated.

  6. #6 Jason Rosenhouse
    April 25, 2007

    Hi Shelley-

    Just wanted to let you know I posted a few words of support here.

    I was once in a similar situation when a litigious creationist nutcase threatened me with a lawsuit because I linked to an article that he claimed was libelous. The lawyer I spoke to about it told me a judge would almost certainly laugh the case out of court, but that it wasn’t worth taking a stand on. So I took it down.

    The nutcase in question later sued the magazine that published the article, and the judge did, indeed, laugh the case out of court.

    Sorry you had to put up with this.

  7. #7 Reed A. Cartwright
    April 25, 2007

    Hey “Shirley”, you of course have seen what I put on PT. I’ll put something on my personal blog tomorrow.

  8. #8 Shelley
    April 25, 2007

    Yeah, thanks “Read.” 🙂

    I’m at lab now but will transfer all these links on the front page when I get home tonight.

  9. #9 Cameron
    April 25, 2007

    I’ll see if I can’t get it slashdotted tomorrow

  10. #11 Rob Knop
    April 25, 2007

    Here’s mine:

    Shelly, has somebody suggested this to Cory at boingboing?

  11. #13 John Pieret
    April 25, 2007

    I’ve kept a running list of blogs that I found that have posted on this issue, up to about 11:15 p.m. Eastern time, when I quit for the night.

  12. #14 Robert W. Donnell
    April 26, 2007

    It looks like fair use to me. I’ve posted a comment and links on my own blog.

  13. #15 Bill
    April 26, 2007
  14. #16 Dr. Free-Ride
    April 26, 2007
  15. #17 Simon G.
    April 26, 2007

    I’ve just submitted it to BoingBoing and Slashdot, as well as reddit.

  16. #18 Sandra
    April 26, 2007

    My post is scheduled to publish at 08:00 EST. Feel free to copy the graphic. 🙂

  17. #19 Thony C.
    April 26, 2007

    Have just sent the following email to Lisa Richards. Is it polite enough? ThC

    Dear Ms. Richards,
    as a free lance scholar and teacher I find the reaction of Wiley’s to Ms. Batts’ review of the article “Antioxidants in Berries etc.” highly disturbing, it can only be described as primitive intimidation. Science lives from intellectual exchange and Ms. Batts’ usage of a minimal amount of material from the article in her wholly fair and open analysis of the same has to be considered “fair use” by any rational interpretation of the copyright laws. The reaction of your organisation, as expressed by yourself in your emails to Ms. Batts, is at best ignorant and ham-fisted and at worst a serious case of aggravated bullying. In view of this occurrence I for one shall be seriously reconsidering my attitude to the usage of all publication issuing from the various Wiley companies.

    Yours Thony Christie

  18. #20 Pedro Beltrao
    April 26, 2007

    I posted my support and sent an email to the editor expressing my concern.

  19. #21 Neil
    April 26, 2007

    Done. Power to us!

  20. #23 Bill LaLonde
    April 26, 2007

    I made a post to show support over in my blog as well:

    Best wishes,

  21. #24 Kristjan Wager
    April 26, 2007

    I ment to say “I also wrote” – don’t do several things at once, especially not when writing in a foreign language.

  22. #25 Dan tdaxp
    April 26, 2007

    I wrote my second article on this, and I hope you read it.

    This is almost a copy of something that happened a few weeks ago with a firm called JL Kirk. Google that name to find out more.

    However, the blogger sued in that case, frankly, handled things better. She didn’t cave. That you did limits the power of your argument. Wiley has done this before. If you continue to comply, you can be sure they will do this again.

  23. #26 Abel Pharmboy
    April 26, 2007

    Here are my two cents:

    If the purpose of publishing is not to disseminate and encourage discussion of results, what is the purpose?

  24. #27 Lab Cat
    April 26, 2007

    I wrote my take:

    I have another suggestion at the end of the post as to how to deal with Wiley and yet still write about science.

    Any thoughts?

  25. #28 John Pieret
    April 26, 2007

    Since we’re announcing second posts …

    Wile E. Publishing

    See if you can guess what illustration I used before clicking through.

    And, Dan, I don’t agree with you. It’s not Shelley’s duty to take on Wiley on our behalf. It’s up to all of us. And, trust me, they wouldn’t care a bit if they actually brought a suit and lost as long as they cost Shelley time and money. You may have seen people calling Wiley’s actions a threat of a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). They can win at that even if they lose the case.

    A much more effective way to fight this is to cost them money. They pour a lot of it into advertizing which they lose when word-of-mouth like this goes around.

  26. #29 Dan tdaxp
    April 26, 2007


    Nice comment. I was one of the first to call this a SLAPP. I also faced a threat like this, as did Kat Coble (who I blogged about pretty regularly).

    You are right that Wiley’s victories and losses in this would not be measured in dollars and sense. However, Wiley has a reputation which is wishes to attack. I won, and Kat Coble won, because the corporate hooligans who threatened us saw their baseless threats hurt their reputation.

    It is just incorrect to say “A much more effective way to fight this is to cost them money.” Companies have a lot of cash, and going after their income is terrible strategy: it attacks them at their hardest point. Attack them at their reputation, where they are weak.

    The difference between those situations and this one is moral courage. Shelley has no obligation to do anything — this is her blog after all, and she can write or not write what she chooses. But there is a term for complaining-without-changing-anything that seems to apply in this situation.

    Again, Shelley’s completely within her rights no matter how she proceeds. But it would be disappointing if she does not capitalizes on this opportunity, and instead wastes the time of everyone who swarmed to help her and others like her.

  27. #30 Guru
    April 26, 2007

    Here is my bit to the brew: When fair use is not fair enough

  28. #31 Blake Stacey
    April 26, 2007

    I don’t have a post on this (yet — my morning was spent breakfasting with PZ), but I figured I should pass along a link to John Baez’s page on oppressive journal practices.

  29. #32 Steinn Sigurdsson
    April 26, 2007

    I put up a pointer

    not much original to say, Wiley are being idiots, sorry they put you through this crap.

  30. #34 Sune Mølgaard
    April 26, 2007
  31. #35 Ian McKinnon
    April 26, 2007

    It is interesting that this is brought up, as I heard about it from a couple of professors of mine, as well as a listserv for faculty on campus. Some of the professors are asking for a moratorium on using Wiley publications for readings and references especially on items like research posters where the referenced material might be displayed. Very unfriendly of Wiley to do this.

  32. #36 BruceG
    April 26, 2007

    Shelly —
    Here’s my post in support of your position. It’s not widely read but I’m glad to do my part. I’ve crossed them off my list of publishers whose product I’ll buy, or whose journals I’ll subscribe to. Take that evil publishers!

  33. #37 MWCole
    April 26, 2007

    Hey Shelley,
    Neuroscientists unite! Here’s my post supporting your position. It’s terrible that they would use such underhanded legal threats to get their way. Your use of the graph clearly fell under fair use. As I mention in my post, they’re apparently too tied to their slogan “where business meets science” to realize that a basic tenent of science is to freely share knowledge.

  34. #38 Shelley
    April 26, 2007

    Wow, I’m so overwhelmed at the response. Thanks everyone! We have now come to a resolution, but its clear they responded due to the posts, emails, and insights from all of you.

  35. #39 Johan
    April 26, 2007

    Posted a comment on my blog. Thanks for taking up this cause – this isn’t anywhere near fair.

  36. #40 The Neurocritic
    April 26, 2007

    Hope I’m not a “has-bean” for posting so late on the topic…but the result might be considered punny.

  37. #42 cid
    April 27, 2007

    this is a personal victory for you, and congratulations, but i’d say that this is a victory for society as well.

    the idea-space regarding intellectual property, copyrights/patents, and fair use is such a war zone right now, and the gestalt of the law seems to be moving away from the rights of citizens and toward the rights of corporations and institutions.

    your story has given me a little bit more hope that fair and open society is not lost.


    0wn yourself

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