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Blogger, Wiley Resolve Fair Use Fight

Last week, the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture published a widely reported study concluding that alcohol enhances the antioxidant properties of fruit. Blogger and doctoral candidate Shelley A. Batts found this of interest, noting on her blog, "Alcohol as health food? Surely you jest!" In her post about the study, Batts included a chart and a graph from the published results, giving due credit to the source. No sooner did she post than she heard from lawyers for John Wiley & Sons Inc., publisher of the journal, threatening her with legal action. She complied with the request and took down the material, but found herself wondering about the boundaries of copyright law.

"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?"

Lots of other bloggers certainly thought so, registering an uproar of protest over Wiley's threat and calling for a boycott. See the catalogs of responses here and here. Apparently, the protest registered. Yesterday, Batts received a note from Wiley calling the whole incident a "general misunderstanding."

"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."

A victory for fair use? Or a nod to public relations? In either case, good reason to toast with a fruit daiquiri.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on April 27, 2007 at 06:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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