DOIs are not copyright! What about Bibliographic Data?

Every so often we take an important step forward in Openness and today is one example.

Norman Paskin of the DOI foundation has confirmed that the DOI foundation does not regard DOIS as copyright and encourages their re-use:



List for Working Group on Open Bibliographic Data <>


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 11:50 AM


Re: [open-bibliography] DOIs and openbiblio


regarding your specific question on whether or not DOIs as identifiers are considered copyright. Like you, I expected that IDF would not make claims of copyright to DOI identifiers. I’m happy to say that I have just confirmed with Norman Paskin, Director of the International DOI Foundation, that IDF does not regard DOI names (identifiers) as copyright and, indeed, encourages their open and widespread use.



This is tremendous! It’s a precisely and fully solved problem. No-one ever needs to ask the question again (maybe we should formally ask it on – any volunteers?)


I do not need to waste any more time on it. I can do something else with my time. I do not need to live in fear of the lawyer’s letter. We can add DOIs into OpenBibliography!


By contrast I spend much of my time in wasted attempts to get clear factual answers from publishers. I’ve been waiting for 4 years from one on data. I’ve been in intense discussion with another about text-mining of data for 18 months. They’ve now relayed it to their legal team. I wait with expectation.


Trying to get clear factual answers from publishers is a wearisome journey. It’s easy to feel that


“Oh, it’s that Murray-Rust again. Just don’t bother to answer and he’ll go away.”


Well he won’t and there are others like him.


It’s very easy to get the impression that we are engaged in an ongoing conflict with publishers. That’s not universally true, but it’s common.


So if publishers want to help us scientists can you please answer a simple question:


“Is the bibliographic data in your publications Open?”


We all know what this means as we have the principles of Open Bibliographic Data. They are simple to understand. Here are some clear answers:

  • Yes
  • No [and reasons given]

Here’s an acceptable one:

  • Gulp – hadn’t thought. We’ll get back by the end of the week – promise

And unacceptable ones:

  • It all depends on what jurisdictions you are in and how much you are going to use. [This means you cannot use it – so say NO]
  • We’ll send it to our lawyers [knowing that they won’t reply – too busy buying companies]

And quite unacceptable, impolite and arrogant:

  • [no reply]


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3 Responses to DOIs are not copyright! What about Bibliographic Data?

  1. David Jones says:

    It’s a nice fantasy but I don’t see how it can be true. The IDF doesn’t mint DOIs, registrants do. A particular registrant might assert copyright over the suffix part of the DOI.
    Does the IDF have any mechanism for preventing them doing that?

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