April 26, 2007

Wiley and fair use

The latest issue tearing across the science blogosphere is journal publisher John Wiley & Sons harassement of ScienceBlogger Shelley Batts.

Batts original post used a figure from a journal article from the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture entitled "Natural volatile treatments increase free-radical scavenging capacity of strawberries and blackberries" by Chanjirakul et al.

This is what Wiley sent her:

Re: Antioxidants in Berries Increased by Ethanol (but Are Daiquiris Healthy?) by Shelly Bats


The above article contains copyrighted material in the form of a table and graphs taken from a recently published paper in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. If these figures are not removed immediately, lawyers from John Wiley & Sons will contact you with further action.


[contact details removed]

This is a shocking incident of a publisher trying to bully a writer/journalist/blogger into not writing critically or skeptically about a piece of research -- and really, read Batts' original article to see how stupid this whole thing is.

Today is pilling it on day against the publisher, and we should all take part. Comment on one of Batts' posts, write your own blog post, email or call the publisher to express your disgust at these types of tactics. Remember, as librarians we have a lot of influence on publishers, more that we realize. For most journals, institutional subscriptions make up a huge part of their revenue stream and, after all, who makes those decisions. We've made a difference with the SAE's crazy DRM scheme and we make a difference here too.

If you want more information, as usual coturnix has helpfully brought together all the various posts into one big linkfest. Also typically, Janet Stemwedel has one of the most on target analyses of the situation.

Update 12.44PM: The situation has been resolved. Apparently it's all due to an overzealous junior employee, whose contact info I've removed above at Batts' request.
Dear Dr Batts

I'd like to introduce myself as the Director of Publications at the SCI.

There has been a general misunderstanding with this issue. Our official response is below, which we are happy for you to publish:

"We apologise for any misunderstanding. In this situation the publisher would typically grant permission on request in order to ensure that figures and extracts are properly credited. We do not think there is any need to pursue this matter further."

As this is a misunderstanding inadvertently caused by a junior member of staff, I would be grateful if you would remove Ms Richards contact details from your blog. She has been most distressed by some abusive emails that she has received on this matter.

Yours sincerely,


Sarah Cooney
Director of Publications
Society of Chemical Industry
International Headquarters
14/15 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PS, UK

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