Happy ending

If you’ve been reading Scienceblogs over the last 24 hours or so, you’ve probably seen reference to Shelley’s legal issues regarding Wiley publishing and their accusation that her use of one panel of one figure of a scientific paper violated copyright. Well, after the story was featured at Boing Boing and elsewhere around the blogosphere, Wiley has now apologized:

“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.”

What constitutes “fair use” of scientific material has long been a thorny issue, especially in the blogosphere, so it’s good to know that at least in this case, the publisher agrees that the original use would have been fine. However, as noted in the comments, the publisher still mentions “permission on request”–so they’re still not giving carte blance for use of their figures. Still, it’s better than a lawsuit threat against a graduate student…

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  1. They still appear not to be aware that fair use does not require permission. And fair use doctrine specifically includes “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.” At least according to the US Copyright Office. Oh no! Did I just misuse material from the US Copyright Office?

  2. Shelley didn’t claim fair use in her response to Wiley. She asked for permission. Wiley incorrectly refused to grant permission. SCI, the creator of the journal, corrected Wiliey’s refusal.

    If Shelley had responded by stating that fair use doesn’t require permission and by showing a fair use determination that demonstrates that her use is fair, then I’m sure the SCI response would have addressed fair use.

  3. Guest, you are more sure of their response than I am. Are you associated with any of the parties by any chance?

  4. I am not affiliated with any of the parties, nor am I a lawyer, but I am an expert on copyright law.

    I do understand the four factors (and gave my interpretation in the original thread), and in my opinion, it’s a slam dunk. I just can’t imagine anyone truly familiar with the law wanting to make an issue of this.

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