Wiley and eMolecules: Unacceptable

Today I received the following unsolicted eMail from Klaus Gubernator of eMolecules and Wiley, which I regard as unacceptable, both morally and legally. At one stage I was investigating a collaboration with eMolecules – now I shall not go near them:

from: “Klaus at eMolecules”
to: [my email, obviously scraped or bought]
date: 5 Sep 2007 20:18:51 -0400
subject: 700,000 NMR, IR and MS from Wiley just a click away

Dear Fellow Chemist,
Would you like to have over 700,000 NMR, MS, and IR spectra at your fingertips whenever you need them?
Now you can!
Introducing ChemGate, the search engine for high-quality spectra from a trusted source: Wiley-VCH.
Just draw a chemical structure, search, and view the spectrum.
–       Over 500,000 complex organic and inorganic molecules
–       Easy to use substructure search, and stepwise refinement
–       Analyze your spectrum with powerful tools
–       Buy one spectrum at a time – no long term commitment
Try it yourself right now! Just visit www.chemgate.emolecules.com and view your first spectra for free.
We look forward to becoming your one-stop resource for chemical spectra.
Kind regards,
Klaus Gubernator, CEO, eMolecules

This is SPAM. In the EU it is illegal. Gubernator and Wiley have operations or have resided in Europe. They know that SPAM is illegal.
Wikipedia is definitive enough:

E-mail spam (WP)


Sending spam violates the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) of almost all Internet Service Providers. Providers vary in their willingness or ability to enforce their AUP; some actively enforce their terms, some lack adequate personnel or technical skills for enforcement, while others may be reluctant to enforce restrictive terms against otherwise profitable customers.
In the United States spam is legally permissible according to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, provided it follows certain criteria: a truthful subject line; no false information in the technical headers or sender address; “conspicuous” display of the postal address of the sender; and other minor requirements. If the spam fails to comply with any of these requirements, then it is illegal. Aggravated or accelerated penalties apply if the spammer harvested the email addresses using methods described earlier.
Article 13 of the European Union Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications (2002/58/EC) provides that the EU member states shall take appropriate measures to ensure that unsolicited communications for the purposes of direct marketing are not allowed either without the consent of the subscribers concerned or in respect of subscribers who do not wish to receive these communications, the choice between these options to be determined by national legislation.

So Wiley and eMolecules are knowingly breaking the law. Does it matter? YES. Firstly every bit of SPAM wastes my time, my bandwidth, my disk and my chance of finding emails. I get several hundred SPAM a day and each one matters. Also Wiley are selling integrity – they are – presumably – closely aligned to the PRISM effort where we are told how wonderful the publishers are and how the private sector is the only hope for a better informatics future. So yet again they show their arrogance – legislation is to control readers, purchasers and authors, but does not, of course, apply to the commercial industry who often seem by definition to be above the law. Putting a “remove from more SPAM” link in the mail is NOT acceptable practice – it is just MORE effort on my part.
Wiley, of course, is quick to prosecute readers who overstep what they regard as acceptable practice – see Sued for 10 Data Points and links therein for the full horrendous story of a young reseracher who was threatened by Wiley for publishing a graph of scientific data.
I shall return to the actual content of ChemGate which represents all that is wrong with the aggregation and possession of scientific data. Meanwhile here is a screen shot – what is the interesting point I shall make in a future post?:
Oh, and just in case you think this will be a cost effective way of managing spectra, here are the costs:
and for 1000 users – e.g. not much larger than the size of our department – 35,000 USD. You can probably buy a  useful entry-level spectrometer for that and an awful lot of chemicals.
Now, Wiley publish a lot of chemistry. And they accompany this with supplemental info – data which they copyright. Do you think if I ask them nicely they will let me aggregate this non-copyrightable data in the same way as we have done for CrystalEye? Please, Wiley, let me know. And if you say yes, I’ll forget about the spamming as an oversight.
from “Dear Fellow Chemist”

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9 Responses to Wiley and eMolecules: Unacceptable

  1. Martin Griffies says:

    Peter, I think that you’re being harsh, here. The email may be unwelcome, but it is relevant to you, as (if you say) you were considering a collaboration, Klaus probably has your email address from legitimate purposes.It is hardly an untargeted email, either.
    As a salesman I do send unsolicited emails if I cannot contact potential customers in other ways.
    How else can the commercial world make its living?
    And long time, no see.
    Martin (formerly of Synopsys & IDBS)

  2. pm286 says:

    (1) Peter, I think that you’re being harsh, here.
    Perhaps. But Wiley wasn’t exactly gentle with Batts (Sued for 10 Data Points).
    >The email may be unwelcome, but it is relevant to you, as (if you say) you were considering a collaboration, Klaus probably has your email address from legitimate purposes.It is hardly an untargeted email, either.
    It’s pretty impersonal.
    >As a salesman I do send unsolicited emails if I cannot contact potential customers in other ways.
    How else can the commercial world make its living?

  3. Hi Peter
    Thank you very much for posting our announcement and writing about our new product so vigorously. To put the SPAM aspect into perspective, your readers should know that we know each other since more than 20 years. Remember, I have lectured at your seminar in Oxford. Emailing you is therefore legitimate under any legislation. I therefore invite you to come near again and discuss possible collaborations. With respect to ChemGate, you comment only on the subscription pricing for spectra, but the main pricing is pay-per-spectrum at prices close to $1 per spectrum. We received hundreds of comments that this is very economical. You personally would qualify for an academic discount and for a free trial. And your first three spectra are free anyway.
    Respectfully yours
    Klaus Gubernator

  4. Rich Apodaca says:

    Note to marketers: people hate being interrupted. Build a Permission Asset instead:

  5. Peter,
    1. does that mean you want only mails from people you have contacted first? Only then a mail is not unsolicted.
    2. Now guess the others persons have the same.
    3. “Silence!”, but “Communication is the essence of science” (Francis Crick)
    And, I personally see problems discriminating noise from information? If you don’t want mails from them, then just add ’emolecules’, ‘wiley’, ‘publisher’, and ‘spectra’ to your blacklist.
    This will not hurt, since you are not planning to collaborate with ’emolecules’, or to work on something related to ‘wiley’, ‘publisher’, and ‘spectra’ 😉
    How does this help working together on a common goal, if there is one?
    Cheers, Joerg

  6. Pingback: ChemSpider Blog » Blog Archive » ChemGate, eMolecules and Discussions About Copyright

  7. Pingback: Unilever Centre for Molecular Informatics, Cambridge - petermr’s blog » Blog Archive » Wiley and eMolecules: unacceptable; an explanation would be welcome

  8. Pingback: ChemSpider Blog » Blog Archive » Another Response to Constructive Feedback from Peter Murray-Rust…

  9. Dear Peter;
    a “scientific version” of SPAM can be found on http://nmrpredict.orc.univie.ac.at/csearchlite/scispam.html
    A list of journals extracted for collecting the CSEARCH ( and partly also SPECINFO ) CNMR-data can be found since about one year on MODGRAPH’s website ( http://www.modgraph.co.uk ) – this information is already there since ONE YEAR, but it is obviously ignored – the only reason I can imagine: It doesnt fit into the line of argumentation ……

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