[Foundation-l] Deleting blatant copyright violations from the database

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Mon Aug 13 04:25:32 UTC 2007

Brian wrote:
> [0] is the addition of an abstract from the journal Nature [1]. It was in
> the encyclopedia for four months until I accidentally found it. I was told
> in IRC that the procedure for this situation is to simply remove the change
> from the current revision of the article, because it is technically
> difficult to permanently remove things from the database. This seems
> incredibly problematic to me. From a legal perspective, I don't see any
> difference in viewing an old version of an article which contains a
> copyright violation, and that copyright violation still being in the current
> version. There is some effort to hide old revisions from search engines, but
> the violation still exists on the Internet, and the copyright owner's rights
> are still being violated.
> Please note that I have no special interest in this text. I thought it was
> common sense that blatant violations like this would be deleted from the
> database, and so am very surprised at the lackadaisical attitude I have
> encountered. This seems like a tremendous legal risk, and there must be some
> technical solution for easily removing old revisions from the database,
> especially in cases like this where the text remained essentially unchanged.
> After I asked for more information about the procedure for deleting text
> like this from the database, I was told to nominate the article for deletion
> so that it could be rewritten without the copyright violation. The community
> solution was to remove the text from the current revision and speedy keep
> the article. This does nothing to protect the rights of the journal Nature,
> and if the community is going to be left in charge of handling copyright
> violations, they should be empowered with tools for permanently removing
> that text.
> I hope someone here can tell me about all the aspects of this situation of
> which I am unaware in addition to the actual legal perspective.
> /Brian Mingus
> User:Alterego
> [0]
> http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Deep_brain_stimulation&diff=prev&oldid=123233977
> [1]
> http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/1301408a.html;jsessionid=0016FB4E9E6717DAC69AFF2B4D72EC5F
You're making a mountain out of a molehill.  The journal in question is 
not "Nature", it's "Neuropsychopharmacology" though that does not change 
the points at issue from either side.  Saying that the violation is 
blatant is pure hyperbole.  So is the phrase, "tremendous legal risk".

I would fault the editors for not putting the material in quotation 
marks, but that's an easy fix.  As long as the material is properly 
credited this wouldn't be a copyright violation at all.  It is from an 
abstract in a scientific journal.  The purpose of abstracts includes 
letting people know about these studies; it is to their benefit to have 
others quoting the abstract.  Has there ever been any case brought to 
court over the use of an abstract?  This is exactly the kind of 
material  If all else fails this is exactly the sort of thing that 
justifies applying the fair use rules.


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