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Creative Reuse

Open Access isn’t just about making the literature free to read but also making it available for reuse. That’s why all PLoS papers are published under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence. The copyright of papers and their constituent parts are retained by the authors but they are available for reuse just so long as the original source of the material is appropriately acknowledged.

Such creative reuses are very important to us at PLoS. There is a page on our website that gives some of our favourite examples and we try and keep an eye out for more examples.

Blogs often repurpose our content. A good example came early this month when ZDnet summarised the content of a PLoS Medicine paper–Hoffman JR, Wilkes MS, Day FC, Bell DS, Higa JK (2006) The Roulette Wheel: An Aid to Informed Decision Making. PLoS Med 3(6): e137–for its own readership. Another is The Why Files treatment of out disease mongering collection.

Another creative reuse that we are always pleased to see is when our articles are translated wholesale into a different language such as Boletines Fármacos‘s Spanish version of The Global Threat of Counterfeit Drugs: Why Industry and Governments Must Communicate the Dangers. Robert Cockburn, Paul N. Newton, E. Kyeremateng Agyarko, Dora Akunyili, Nicholas J. White. PLoS Medicine Vol. 2, No. 4, e100.

However Jonathan Eisen over on his Tree of Life blog has turned up an example that isn’t going into our hall of fame. Seems that an article in Nature Reviews Microbiology (sorry if this link doesn’t work, they aren’t OA) has used a figure from one of Jonathan’s PLoS Genetics papers. Which is great, but I’ll let Jonathan take the story from here:

In the article they sort of attribute it but do not do a robust job. And even more deceptively, they put “Copyright Nature” onto the Figure even though this is completely invalid. I have downloaded the figure for those who do not have access to Nature.

I do this with no fear of the copyright gods since after all, they do not in fact have Copyrights to it.

Even worse, I saw that one can download a powerpoint slide of this figure. I did this and found that they kept the Copyright Nature part but left out the attribution so it looks like the figure is from Nature.

True the figure has been redrawn a bit and a nicely graded colour background added but there is decidedly more reuse than creativity involved.

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