Thomson Reuters Sues George Mason University For Making Its Software Output More Useful

from the how-dare-they! dept

A bunch of folks have been submitting the news that financial information giant Thomson Reuters is suing George Mason University for the high crime of releasing some software that can convert the output of Thomson Reuters own EndNote software into a more open format. EndNote is software for creating bibliographies, from a variety of different databases. The George Mason software, Zotero, does the same thing -- but also will take documents saved in EndNote's proprietary format and save it in its own open format. In normal times, under normal laws, this shouldn't be a problem. Reverse engineering is considered a perfectly legitimate practice in most cases -- and, in fact, is considered an important part of the competitive market in driving innovation. But, thanks to the DMCA, when it comes to software, this type of behavior can be blocked within a license agreement. This is one of the worst parts of the DMCA, in that it's clearly not about protecting copyrighted material, but about preventing any sort of competition in the market place.

If Thomson Reuters execs actually thought about this, they would realize that Zotero actually makes EndNote more valuable by making the output more valuable. As long as Thomson Reuters is willing to keep adding more and better features, then it should have nothing to worry about from Zotero, who only enhances the value of EndNote's output. Instead, Thomson Reuters is using the old claim of felony interference with a business model to shut down a university-produced open competitor. Thomson Reuters' claims make this quite clear, in saying that Zotero is "destroying the EndNote customer base." Back here, in the real world, most people call that competition and think it's a good thing, rather than against the law.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: bibliography, closed, copyright, dmca, license, open, software
Companies: george mason university, thomson reuters


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 30 Sep 2008 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So I wonder how it would work if a mod jumped in, took a public item to a private Insight Community (revenue-based) case. How would that would work?

    I have no idea what that even means.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.