Peter Murray has an excellent analysis of the Zotero lawsuit in this blog post of his. The highlight:
“I’d note that it doesn’t look like the Thomson legal team actually had anyone look at the Zotero code. The complaint alleges that “users of Zotero [are freely converting] the EndNote Software’s proprietary .ens style files into open source Zotero .csl style files and further distributing such converted files to others.” That isn’t happening. Zotero is reading the .ens style files into internal data structures in the browser, but it is not converting .ens style files to .csl style files and storing them on disk. Nor is Zotero or anyone associated with Zotero redistributing .ens style files.“
On a less optimistic note, I was also reminded that Virginia, the state in which this lawsuit was launched, was one of only two states to pass UCITA, which was soundly rejected by other states:
“UCITA has another indirect consequence that would hamstring free software development in the long term—it gives proprietary software developers the power to prohibit reverse engineering. This would make it easy for them to establish secret file formats and protocols, which there would be no lawful way for us to figure out.
“UCITA does not apply only to software. It applies to any sort of computer-readable information. Even if you use only free software, you are likely to read articles on your computer, and access data bases. UCITA will allow the publishers to impose the most outrageous restrictions on you. They could change the license retroactively at any time, and force you to delete the material if you don’t accept the change. They could even prohibit you from describing what you see as flaws in the material.“
It should be noted that UCITA was opposed by no less than the IEEE because they were concerned about the possibility of legal action of the nature of this Thomson Reuters lawsuit.
Will UCITA (or even the DMCA) be used by Thomson Reuters to justify their claims?