Science is about open publication of discovery by individuals, enabling other individuals to build on their work. As a search for truth, it’s important for the enterprise of sciences for anyone to be able to debate and test truth claims by scientists by being able to reproduce experiments and observations, which depends on open publication of data and methods. Nowadays, with science journals going online and charging high fees, the open access tradition of science is threatened with enclosure. The latest egregious example of the assault on scientific openness by profiteers is the publisher Wiley Interscience’s attack on Shelley Batts, a neuroscientist who blogged about fruit antioxidation and was threatened with a lawyer letter from Wiley for publishing a figure in her blog — fair use under the pre-privatization norms of scientific publication. The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture should be boycotted. It is no longer truly a scientific journal.
In short, I was threatened with legal action if I didn’t take it down immediately. I used a panel a figure, and a chart, from over 10+ figures in the paper. I cited and reported everything straight forwardly. I would think they’d be happy to get the press. But alas, no.
I got around them by complying, but reproducing the figures myself in Excel. They didn’t bother me anymore, as apparently thats 100% legal and ok.
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?