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Friday, May 25, 2007

Numbers are copyrighted?

I just read on Planet Blue Obelisk Peter's disturbing news (via Suber) that Wiley thinks it can copyright a set of numbers (also known as data). That is a sad milestone in scientific publishing. It reminds me of the recent internet hype about a long number recently flooding the internet (and notably del.icio.us) related to watching DVDs you legally bought. Some details can be found in this Linux Weekly News article on How Debian packages a number.

Interestingly, this is really not problems just regarding commercial publishers, or closed access publishing or so. Yesterday, Christoph and I working on getting the NMR spectrum text mining going in Bioclipse again for the workshop, we noticed that the open access Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry, does not make Open Data reality either: the experimental sections are generally (all?) excluded from the main text in HTML and obscured in .doc files in the supplementary information. BTW, this makes me wonder if organic chemists still consider the experimental properties of molecules novel science.