I reported that Chemspider had been asked to take down indexes of scientific articles (based presumably on chemical names) and stated that I did not think this was reasonable. (My language was probably rather more heated - I shall choose words carefully in the near future. The position now seems to be clear:
PMR: thank you for this. I now comment without emotion.
From what I can see the RSC has made copies of its older articles (ca. 2-3 years) "Free Access". This means they can be read on the Web. They are not labelled Open Access and are copyrighted in the original manner ("This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2003"). The Permission box states:
Material in RSC and other publishers' publications is subject to all applicable copyright, database protection, and other rights. Therefore for any article, whether printed or electronic, permission must be obtained to use material for which the author(s) does not already own the copyright. This material may be, for example, a figure, diagram, table, photo or some other image. Note that permission is not needed to re-use your own figures, diagrams, etc, which were originally published in an RSC publication. However, permission should be requested for use of the whole article or chapter.
PMR: This does not indicate whether or how the material may be indexed. I make the following observations:
- The term "Free Access" is used although it is unclear whether this is simply an incentive to read the paper or describes types of access and re-use.
- The RSC uses the term "Open Science" to describe its author-pays hybrid
I am not surprised there is confusion, which stems from a lack of clarity. It would be useful to know when and how publishers wished to have links to their articles; it seems a pity to have to take all the links down again. I would have thought that publishers would welcome pointers to their papers.
I asked the general question and asked if Peter Suber would give his best shot at an opinion.
PMR: Many thanks, Peter. It is a great pity that the current situation is so messy. I cannot see who benefits anywhere. I take the simple-minded Web 2.0 that the more exposed something is the more value it accretes. I am not advocating the misappropriation of electronic content, simply creating an electronic index of the facts within it.
Unless someone tells me otherwise it is legal to make an index of a printed book. I can, for example, list the names of characters in Harry Potter without infringing. If I legally buy a copy on CDROM can I make an index from that? If I read the RSC articles on the web surely I can type up a list of the melting points (facts) in the article? But if I use a machine to reduce the labour I cannot do this?