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August 26, 2005



I like to believe, perhaps naively, that most people wish to credit what they learn from others. This doesn't apply to students who wait until the last minute to write a paper, and can't resist the temptation to lift someone's words from the Web.

So I'm thinking about professional researchers, who seem indifferent to copyright from being too busy rather than from laziness. Concepts like the "four factors of fair use" are rather abstract to these folks. And because the likelihood of any particular copyright violation being prosecuted is small, it's hard to convince people to learn the nuances of the law.

Mark D

This problem is not limited to the academic community. Just the other day, I was speaking with a pharmaceutical product manager (if anyone should understand intellectual property law you would think it would be an employee of a pharma company). Our conversation drifted (as it often does) to the subject of purchasing reprints of important research published in the leading journals of the world. He told me that one of the ways his company has saved money over the years was to contract a local publisher to take the original text, reformat it, and republish it under the local publisher logo!

He was shocked when I protested that this was a serious violation of copyright law and that his company and the local publisher could be subject to heavy fines.

Then of course, there is also the recent example of Emerald reusing material without giving credit. By the way, you and Lynn were lucky. I do not recall being taught research and documentation skills in high school.

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