Zotero creators sued by Thomson Reuters


I don’t usually just re-post stuff like this, but this is important and I’m hoping to add to whatever backlash we can create. This is obscene – that Thompson-Reuters is suing over their proprietary “endnote format.” If you somehow needed a new reason to stop forcing your students to buy textbooks from Thompson-Reuters… And hopefully this will see ed tech departments, libraries and grad schools across the continent remove links and endorsements to Thompson’s Endnote product. Locking in your customers and protecting your business through proprietary data formats is just not acceptable. – SWL

9 thoughts on “Zotero creators sued by Thomson Reuters”

  1. I am not sure I agree with you – or at least to the extent that I would say this is obscene. I immediately thought of the Bb/D2L case which I would categorize as evil and obscene and this feels different. Granted, I am not sure Thompson’s damage request (10m) is appropriate, but I have been using EndNote for years – almost 10 to be exact. I have always been able to get my data out via export into some other agnostic form – that is, I don’t feel locked in and as an academic I value the refinement and ease of use of the product. That comes with a cost – one which at times I have thought is too high, but I don’t think this is a case of locking customers in. As M Feldstein, notes, the case seems to be about this one particular feature – where Zotero allows users to upload and convert, then distribute EndNote’s propriety styles.

  2. Alan, thanks for the comment. I await more details, but if what Michael has written turns out to be true (I am highly suspicious, especially of a publshing company and citation software – looks too much like vertical integration to me) I am not above apologies and retractions. Won’t be the first time. If it does turn out to be about re-distributing EndNote citations, it will be interesting to see if disabling the feature (which apparently they may have now done) assuages this. I kind of doubt it. This just smells too much like squashing competition.

  3. Nothing to do with the lawsuit. I just love that you tagged this with dickheads. I wanted to subscribe to your dickheads tag. That would be fun. Alas, this is the only post that has achieved a sufficient level of dickheadeness and risen to such a level as to have achieved the much coveted tag of dickheads. Frankly, that surprises me. I was expecting a whole slew of posts, perhaps even an entire category devoted to dickheads.

  4. Clint, sorry to disappoint, it was a new level of invective for me (you might be able guess what the word I was going to use but didn’t was, and I can just say I’m glad I toned it down…)

    But you are right, there has been no shortage of dickheads to write about, so I went back and rectified this tagging shortcoming for you – http://www.edtechpost.ca/wordpress/index.php?tag=dickheads

    I will make sure to keep tagging dickheads as such from now on too. Least I can do for my loyal readers.

  5. @Alan

    The suit isn’t about the citation metadata from within EndNote, but about the files that give instructions on formatting citations. You are able to modify and generate such files. If Thomson is right in this case, it means that you cannot use those style files in third party programs. They lock all of your custom style files up. You most likely have far fewer styles than references, but that doesn’t mean that we should give up on being able to re-use what we create in any way that we want.

    As noted in comments on M Feldstein’s blog: Zotero does NOT allow users to upload, convert, or distribute the undocumented EndNote styles (whether created by Thomson, but publishers, or by end users). This was an intentional design decision by Zotero’s developers to avoid copyright issues (which may not apply anyway, as there is little that is novel/creative in citation formatting).

    It is depressing that Thomson’s LIES are getting people to buy-in to their case. I sincerely hope that the jury won’t be duped.

  6. Rick, thanks for clarifying this both here and on Michael’s blog. I think I understand better, my sense of…anger? outrage? exasperation?… still undiminished.

  7. I can’t tell you how depressing this is…

    After reading these comments and ones on MF’s page, I have to agree… and wouldn’t want to be considered an apologist for this type of behavior.

    It’s unfortunate for several reasons (in addition to the obvious issue of patent abuse) including the fact that EndNote is a good product and many of us have grown up with it. Maybe before they were acquired by TR they were less evil?

    This more and more like Bb like behavior – and I can speak from firsthand experience on that one. Not only is Bb inferior to D2L, but the anti-competitive and innovation stifling outcomes of their lawsuit are tragic…

    I guess it’s good I hadn’t upgraded to X2 yet…

  8. I was formerly a user of Thompson’s products, but abandoned them many years ago for their customer-no-service approach and penchant for dead-ending one product after another, forcing expensive “upgrades” which offered only new problems, and often less functionality. I’ve been living for several years with a home-made Filemaker Pro bibliographic database. It is not nearly as full-featured as Thompson’s products, but well worth the clunkiness just to be rid of the Thompson headache!! George Mason Univ. has simply done very well, and on a grand scale, what many of us attempted to do individually long ago, all to avoid using the products of a company that seemed to relish punishing its customers. In my opinion, the lawsuit is totally in character and doesn’t surprise me in the least.

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