Friday, September 07, 2007

Double-charging your readers: quite unacceptable indeed

Peter has been doing an excellent job in advocating ODOSOS, and one of his posts even hit Slashdot.

Meanwhile, blogspace has been flooded with dislike of the PRISM intiative (e.g. see also the other Peter's blog). The website is so sad, it is almost funny again; but on second thought, it is so sad, you wonder the world will end because of WOIII or because of a total halt of scientific progress. It's so sad, it is hard to decide between the real webpage and this parody which is the fake one.

Wiley seems to be the king of commercial exploitation. While the sue over 6 data points seemed to be an incident, they now try to get their reading public pay twice for published material: once for reading the paper (well, if you exclude incidental, oh-I-m-sorry-our-IT-department-messed-up attempts to have readers pay for open access papers; or was that another publisher?), and once for accessing the data (spectra) in that paper.

I am likely a bit too harsh on Wiley here. They do and have done an excellent job on dissemination of scientific knowledge. I just think that it would suit them well to allow taking advantage of current ICT/chemoinformatics technologies to improve the advance of science; I would say that should be a goal of a scientific publisher. Instead, they do not give explicit permission to reuse data from their publications, unless it involves the commercial exploitation of that database. Sure, curation is expensive, but chemoinformatics has advanced, and *very much* can be done with an uncurated database. There are enough people interested in setting up free databases, without that costing Wiley a penny. Why not allow that? Wiley is surely aware of this interest, so it is there turn now to act.


  1. Egon...I think that it is unfair to continue this story "once for accessing the data (spectra) in that paper." without confirmation. I do NOT believe that Wiley are charging people for data inside their papers. At least not yet. These data collections are sourced from other groups such as WOlfgang Robien and are NOT extracted from the papers.

    We are running into a problem in the blogosphere in my opinion. Comments are being made without fact checking. Examples include the recent "Wikipedia is best for Taxol " comment and I tried to address that here (, the attack on Wiley about them double-charging (with NO evidence that is true), general comments that PubChem is best that I am picking up on (but I've more than adequately demonstrated curation is absolutely necessary on their as well as on CHemSPider. the accuracy of information has to be taken into account...we're moving more into a world of misinformation and it's dangerous...

  2. Actually, here is your statement:

    "This Web site and any Wiley publications and material which may be accessed from it are protected by copyright. Nothing on this Web site or in the Wiley publications and material may be downloaded, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, modified, made available on a network, used to create derivative works, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except (i) in the United States, as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, or internationally, as permitted by other applicable national copyright laws, or (ii) as expressly authorised on this Web site, or (iii) that a reasonable amount of material may be cached and stored by search engines indexing this Web site, or (iv) with the prior written permission of Wiley."

    That's clear enough, though you may request permission, which I'm sure I wouldn't get if I would ask.

  3. Last comment... I had just started an email to request permission... but deleted it again. At this moment, I am not allowed to extract information from the articles (clearly written down), and it is not up to me to change that policy. Not sure about foreign law, but one is not allowed to computationally copy data without explicit permission, which Wiley has not given. So effectively, they decide to keep the status quo of double charging.