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Copyright and Blogging April 26, 2007

Posted by Johan in Off Topic.

The science-geek blogosphere is quite upset over a recent legal threat that Shelley of Retrospectacle received for this post, where she posted a figure from a journal article. Shelley has since taken down the figure and replaced it with Excel tables. She has also posted the legal threat and some more information. Understandably, she’s not about to take up the legal fight for a reasonable definition of fair use.

So what can be done? Well, posts like this one. Like most science-blogs, I make liberal use of figures from the journal articles I blog. Like Shelley, I always provide a link to the original article. Essentially, we are providing free advertising for these journals, and for this, we should apparently expect legal threats as thanks

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if these rules were enforced as rigidly upon the lecturers on my course – every presentation consists of piles of copyrighted content. You could argue that blogging isn’t doing the world a lot of good, but if lecturers aren’t allowed to copy figures for lectures, this interpretation of fair use could actually damage the quality of education.

Seldom have open-access journals like PloS seemed so appealing.



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