Friday, October 03, 2008

Mark of Zotero

The blog at the Wired Campus for the Chronicle of Higher Education describes a copyright infringement suit of interest to information literacy educators in "Maker of EndNote Citation Software Sues George Mason U." The article explains that the maker of the proprietary software package Endnote, which is used by many academics to create and organize bibliographic citations, has sued the Center for History and New Media, which has been known for its ground-breaking work in multimedia teaching, open courseware, and the creation of online archives of documents and images. EndNote accuses the group of violating its intellectual property rights by reverse engineering their pricey corporate product and then releasing Zotero, a free open-source tool for the Firefox browser, which claims to be "leveraging the long tail of scholarship" by offering a single application to collect, manage, and cite research sources. Personally, as a longtime EndNote user, I love the ease of Zotero and have even converted my colleague Julia Lupton to its cause. Now, as part of an effort to ward off inappropriate citation practices and plagiarism, we are emphasizing Zotero as part of the larger information literacy curriculum of the Humanities Core Course.

The rhetoric of the actual legal complaint emphasizes the language of its own license agreement, which George Mason seems to have consented to and even renewed. It's also interesting to note how they refer to "information and belief" about Zotero's supposedly nefarious practices several times without citing any specific sources themselves.

Update: The Madisonian blog provides more analysis of the case here. Peter Murray of OhioLINK, the Ohio Information and Library Network, also points readers to more resources and references about the case at the Disruptive Library Technology Jester.

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