The stupidity of SOPA in Scholarly Publishing
Connotea Imports 2012-07-31
"Here I wanted to point out how utterly and stupendously stupid SOPA is in the academic communication space. Nature, every Elsevier journal, and every other academic communication medium, are full of copyright violations. The couple of paragraphs of methods text or introduction that keeps being used, that chunk of supplementary information that has appeared in a number of such places, that figure that “everyone in the field uses” but no one has any idea who drew it, as well as those figures that the authors forgot that they’d signed over the copyright to some other publisher – or didn’t understand enough about copyright to realise that they had. And that’s before we get to plagiarism issues. Or the fact that legal position over the signing of copyright agreements by authors is fraught to say the least. Now of course reputable publishers have in place mechanisms by which authors sign off that they’ve done the right things so the journals are ok right? No. That’s the whole point of SOPA (and its partner in the US Senate, PIPA). It gives copyright holders or interested parties the right to take down an entire site based on it being the medium by which copyright violations are transmitted. So if someone, purely as a thought experiment you understand, crowd-sourced the identification of copyright violations in papers published by supporters of SOPA, then they could legitimately take down journal websites, like Science Direct and Nature.com. That’s right, just find the plagiarised papers, raise them as a copyright violation, and you can have the journal website shut down. This is of course, just an example of why SOPA is entirely the wrong approach to dealing with online piracy. But with supposedly technically savvy organisations lined up to support it, they should be aware of what it might cost them...."