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Zotero Lawsuit Dismissed 60

peretzpup writes "The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Thomson Reuters's lawsuit against George Mason University has been dismissed. Last fall the news organization had sued GMU's Center for History and New Media over supposed violations of the EndNote licensing agreement by the Zotero project, hosted at the university. Zotero, a Firefox plug-in designed to help scholars store and organize their online research, has seen millions of downloads. Zotero project co-director Sean Takats's announcement is pretty heartwarming. No comment as yet from Thomson Reuters."
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Zotero Lawsuit Dismissed

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  • Hurrah! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Canazza ( 1428553 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @11:28AM (#28223075)

    And rightly so. I doubt they actually made any money from the plug in, so $10m would have utterly crippled both the university and the students therein.

  • by pesho ( 843750 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @11:48AM (#28223409)
    Taking page of RIAA playbook TR sued their own clients - academics using EndNote. The silly part is that many of the citation style files the lawsuit was about are actually created by Endnote users.

    To make their court case stronger they put legal language on their website that prohibited sharing of style files and reference libraries. This naturally raised questions from the endnote users, because sharing these files is essential part of using the product. The support staff on their user forums was put in an awkward position of explaining that that files can in fact be shared, while the language on their own web site was stating the opposite. Now it seems they have corrected the license statement to allow such sharing.

    Nice PR, TR;)

    • by qortra ( 591818 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @12:00PM (#28223587)
      Absolutely, and just like the RIAA, they are now out not only the lawyer costs and the goodwill of the public, but also a customer. From the Chronicle article:

      George Mason University said in November it had not renewed a site license for EndNote

      This is what happens when you fsck a client.

    • Sharing ENS Styles (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @12:00PM (#28223599) Homepage

      Now it seems they have corrected the license statement to allow such sharing.

      Kind of. Their terms of use state: []

      EndNote includes customization options that licensed individual and institutional customers can use to create new and modify existing EndNote style (.ens), filter (.enf), and connection (.enz) files for their personal use and to share with other licensed EndNote users for use only in conjunction with EndNote.

      (emphasis mine). In other words, they claim that you can't use the files that you create using their software in third-party software, such as Zotero. This would be like saying you can't open an MS Word Document in Writer.

    • should have been encouraging.

      TR were stupidly engaging in trying to shut people down, instead of using an open source license solution to grow and extend their product AT NO COST TO THEMSELVES.

      The use of lawyers who are creatures who can act like O'Brien in 1984, instead of the use of innovation to add value, is entirely consistent with people who believe that authority comes from the power they can bring to bear instead of the authorship of the idea.

  • Hmm (Score:1, Troll)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

    Requires: Firefox 3.0.0 or later

    Disabled: This extension does not work with Firefox 3.0.10

    Zotero extension dismissed.

    • Works fine for me (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm running Zotero 2.0b5 in Firefox 3.0.10 right now. What problems are you having?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I have zotero with 3.0.10 (as I'm sure many people have, it's the default Ubuntu version in 9.04) and Zotero works flawlessly. I've had issues in the past, when trying the Firefox3 beta, but it's been stable for many months now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Both Zotero 1.0.10 and 2.0b5 have install.rdf manifests declaring compatibility up to Firefox 3.5. If you're getting that message, there's a problem with your Firefox profile.

  • Victory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @12:11PM (#28223775)
    This is the sweet taste of victory for an excellent project. Thomson Education is notorious for charging exhorbitant amounts of money to students for textbooks. Their testing division is a borderline racket for the amount they charge for testing on testing software that still runs on Windows 2000 Professional and crashes mid way through the MC$E tests. I even was told that I couldn't get a refund or a makeup date because I was expected to be at a test center in the middle of snow storm in Pennsylvania. Never mind that two feet of snow fell. Any time Thomson Reuters gets its butt handed to it, I cheer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Just Some Guy ( 3352 )

      Their testing division is a borderline racket for the amount they charge for testing on testing software that still runs on Windows 2000 Professional and crashes mid way through the MC$E tests.

      Now that's funny.

  • or is zotero VERY buggy? and crashes :(

    yah yah i know, open source, fix it yourself :|

  • by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <> on Friday June 05, 2009 @01:21PM (#28224869) Journal

    Good that GMU won. Even better that the case was tossed. Yet celebrating this feels like celebrating that the bar was lowered an inch after it had crept up 10 inches.

    What gave Reuters the idea he had a case? Is he just another greedy control freak who knew very well he didn't really have a case but thought he could game the system to give him far too much? Our laws are so bad he really thought he had a chance? And did he think users would meekly submit to his control if his lawsuit succeeded? I expect he didn't think that far ahead. Or maybe the whole thing was a bluff and he hoped GMU would roll over without a fight? Or did he really believe he was in the right?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Thomson Reuters [] is multi-million dollar company.

      • That just makes their thinking even more incomprehensible. I would be less surprised if this was just some crank. But for a large corporation to mess up like that doesn't speak well of them. Maybe top management has too much control and no one has the power to rein them in when they get stupid, or maybe it's groupthink and a corporate culture that overemphasizes blind loyalty.
      • by MarkvW ( 1037596 )

        NO!! Reuters is a guy! He looks just like Edward G. Robinson! I saw him on TV the other day.

  • Does anyone have a link to the actual decision or know on what ground the case was dismissed?

    Depending on the details this case could be a indicator of some sanity returning to copyright law or just a case that was won on ancillary technicalities.

  • Zotero Donations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @02:12PM (#28225591) Homepage

    Trevor's blog also had this post: []
    which says that all tax-deductible donations made in June will be matched twice-over. This seems like a good opportunity to congratulate the team for making it through their legal hurdles & to support the development of great free/open source software.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @02:20PM (#28225707) Homepage

    Was the suit dismissed with prejudice or without? The difference is important. "With prejudice" means that the issue is settled and they can never bring it before any US court again. "Without prejudice" means that they can try again.

  • The ironic thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by femtoguy ( 751223 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:57PM (#28226839)

    The really ironic thing is that if it hadn't been for the law suit, I would not have found Zotero. I have been complaining for years about Endnote, but was unwilling to go LaTeX/BibTeX all of the way, and had been paying for endnote, and using Microsoft Word. With Zotero, I got completely changed over to OpenOffice on all platforms.

    So, Thanks for the law suit.

    • I hadn't heard of Zotero either, but I know a few people whose lives it will make just a little bit easier :D I, too, thank the lawsuit.

  • And I don't mean The Endnote The....

    Endnote is a horrible program. Unintuitive, no error messages when you do something wrong.

    It is just painful to use. Zotero isn't perfect but it is so much better than Endnote.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle