Official Statement

George Mason University has just released an official statement about the Thomson Reuters lawsuit over the Center for History and New Media‘s Zotero, an open source competitor to TR’s EndNote:

The Thomson Reuters Corporation has sued the Commonwealth of Virginia over Zotero, a project based at George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media (CHNM). A free and open-source software initiative, Zotero aims to create the world’s best research tool and has already been adopted by hundreds of thousands of users at countless colleges and research universities. CHNM announces that it has re-released the full functionality of Zotero 1.5 Sync Preview to its users and the open source community. As part of its formal response to this legal action, Mason will also not renew its site license for EndNote.

As academics themselves, the creators of the Zotero project strive to serve the scholarly community and to respond to its needs in an age of digital research. In line with that simple goal, they maintain that anything created by users of Zotero belongs to those users, and that it should be as easy as possible for Zotero users to move to and from the software as they wish, without friction. CHNM concurs with the journal Nature, which recently editorialized about this matter: “The virtues of interoperability and easy data-sharing among researchers are worth restating.”

CHNM remains committed to the openness it has promoted since its founding at Mason in 1994 and to the freedoms of users of its websites and software. Its ambitious development cycle and plans for Zotero’s future remain unchanged. CHNM will continue to develop and implement new research technologies in the pursuit of better ways to create and share scholarship. CHNM greatly appreciates the many supportive comments it has received from scholars, librarians, and administrators around the globe.

13 replies on “Official Statement”

I recently re-listened to the Digital Campus episode, “Running from the Law.” Tom, Mills, and yourself mentioned that eventually an open source or obviously fair use case would show that the common good does exist, and it should be off limits to greedy litigation.

I hope Zotero can provide some logic to the absurd legal landscape surrounding these new technologies, by rocking TR in court. It’s great to see George Mason standing behind CHNM.

Where I work, we provide Refworks to our students and faculty; some of them prefer to use Endnote, however. I’m thinking that this action by Thomason Reuters makes me re-think our next steps in providing bibliographic software. We haven’t been looking that hard at Zotero, but now we will be.

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