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Posts Tagged ‘zotero’

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?

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Zotero is being sued by Thomson Reuters, the makers of Endnote and one of their proprietary competitors. The reason?

A significant and highly touted feature of the new beta version of Zotero, however, is its ability to convert – in direct violation of the License Agreement – Thomson’s 3,500 plus proprietary .ens style files within the EndNote Software into free, open source, easily distributable Zotero .csl files.

If you’re an Endnote user and wish to move your existing citations to an open and accessible format, will Thomson Reuters let you? Or will you, too, be sued for trying to access and manipulate your own data?

Just one more reason to use open formats on free/open source systems.

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My undergrad was spent in a lab, so most of my academic efforts were usually exported in the form of lab reports. Citations were never required (or useful) for those types of papers. When I began my MLIS in January 2008, I realized that I would need some help with my papers, particularly when it came to citation management. During my first week of school, I took a tour of the university library and was told about RefWorks, to which the university had a site-wide license. I don’t know how I would have got through my first term without it.

It is only now, after two terms of school, that I have been made aware of an open source alternative: Zotero. It’s available as a Firefox plugin and has taken a very different approach to citation management. While the current version has some disadvantages in comparison with RefWorks (notably: your data is stored on your local machine, and therefore inaccessible from other computers), they should be addressed by the time I head back to school in January.

What follows is a brief list which I drew up of the pros and cons of Zotero when comparing it to my previous experience with RefWorks. Something tells me that by the time I head back to school in January 2009, Zotero will replace RefWorks as my citation manager. (more…)

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