A recent incident in the blogosphere has sparked a discussion on the role of copyright and fair use laws in the digital world.
Last week, Shelley Batts – a PhD student – was accused of a fair use violation for pulling a figure and a chart from a scientific paper to post on her blog. Soon after Batts posted the data on her site, she received a cease-and-desist letter via e-mail from lawyers from the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, a journal owned by John Wiley. The representative who contacted her accused her of violating fair use by reproducing the material from the journal on her blog. Batts soon took down the figures, reproduced the data in an Excel format, and avoided legal penalty.
Her experience raises a larger question, though. In the world of blogging where cutting and pasting is common practice, how do copyright and fair use laws apply? Katherine Sharpe addressed this very question on ScienceBlogs, calling on Springer Publishing’s Johannes Velterop and Science Commons’ John Wilbanks to comment. […]