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Thomson Reuters Sues Over Open-Source Endnote-Alike Zotero

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the gmu-also-home-of-econtalk dept.

The Courts 181

Noksagt writes "Thomson Reuters, the owner of the Endnote reference management software, has filed a $10 million lawsuit and a request for injunction against the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia's George Mason University develops Zotero, a free and open source plugin to Mozilla Firefox that researchers may use to manage citations. Thomson alleges that GMU's Center for History and New Media reverse engineered Endnote and that the beta version of Zotero can convert (in violation of the Endnote EULA) the proprietary style files that are used by Endnote to format citations into the open CSL file format."

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181 comments

"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (5, Informative)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180331)

I hoped that I kept the article summary relatively free of my personal opinion, which I will indulge in this comment:

Thomson Reuters has too many asshats.

Let us set aside the fact that academic software and those who develop academic software should embrace interoperability and knowledge sharing.

I'll even set aside that, despite the (rewritten) title, Zotero has many fundamental differences from EndNote.

The complaint is, in the words of Bruce D'Arcus, [muohio.edu] "a nuisance lawsuit designed to intimidate." Zotero's style repository [zotero.org] contains no EndNote .ens styles and seems to contain no styles derived from those styles. CSL styles are created manually [zotero.org] and through an online style creator [somwhere.org] . There is no way to get a new CSL style from an .ens file--the Zotero beta had mapped fields internally to allow .ens files to be used independently of CSL (but even this feature has been disabled in the trunk). Zotero thought about copyright issues surrounding this feature [zotero.org] and came to the right decision--not to distribute .ens files or .csl files derived from .ens files, but to retain the feature to work with user-provided .ens files (similar to the way OpenOffice.org can open and save MS Office files).

I have decided not to purchase EndNote and I am asking my employer to do the same, unless the suit is dropped. I intend to donate at least as much as an EndNote license costs to George Mason University [gmufoundation.org] , the Software Freedom Law Center [softwarefreedom.org] , the Electronic Frontier Foundation [eff.org] or any other applicable entity that both defends Zotero in this case and solicits donations. (I don't know any organization who has stepped in on this case yet, but I imagine that one of these organizations can provide some sort of legal support in the future.)

I encourage you to stop purchasing Thomson products too. There are plenty of reference managers [wikipedia.org] for all platforms (some proprietary, some free/open source) that you can choose instead, not the least of which is Zotero [zotero.org] .

Disclaimer: I am a developer of refbase [sourceforge.net] , a free and open source reference manager that might be seen to compete with Thomson Reuters's EndNoteWeb. I have and continue to use many reference managers. While I have many technical complaints about the EndNote products, they aren't the worst technical products. Thomson may be the worst socially, though--in addition to inane and baseless lawsuits, they are very slow to respond to general feedback.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (5, Interesting)

Unending (1164935) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180365)

Thank you for doing your commenting this way, I hope that more story submitters will try to do the same thing in the future.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (5, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181249)

Of course, the developer of a reference manager would be the type to take the time to adequately explain his argument, and fully annotate his sources :-)

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (4, Insightful)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181533)

It would be easier for more story submitters to do the same thing in future if comments carried over from submissions to stories, and if you had a reasonable chance to review what the Slashdot editors did to your summary before it went live, or if you even knew in how many hours it might actually go live once it's modded up into a story.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (3, Insightful)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180383)

Is it possible in the US to use an EULA to prevent third parties to read your proprietary formats?

Do you think the legislator should better enforce interoperability provisions?

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180537)

> Is it possible in the US to use an EULA to prevent third parties to read your
> proprietary formats?

It's not clear what you are asking. Someone who is not a party to a contract is not bound by the terms of that contract. Reuters is claiming that GMU entered into a contract with them as one of the conditions under which Reuters sold GMU copies of Endnotes and then breached that contract. No third parties are involved.

> Do you think the legislator should better enforce interoperability provisions?

Again, it is not clear what you are asking. This is a civil lawsuit for breach of contract.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25181157)

Is it possible in the US to use an EULA to prevent third parties to read your proprietary formats?

Do you think the legislator should better enforce interoperability provisions?

First off EULA's are not enforceable.

Second even if they were their nature makes them useless in this case, even if the program had been reverse engineered to gain information from it the programmers doing said reverse engineering clearly are not the end user for the product, and since they can reverse engineer the program with out installing it its likely they never even saw the EULA, let alone actually agreed to it.

Thrid, and most importantly copyright law has specific exceptions for format shifting, and interoperability. Even if its massively abused to do so copyright was never intended to restrict a market.

So while I can think of laws that say this activity is allowed I can't think of any that would forbid it, I don't think their suit has a leg to stand on.

This case's only hope is the DMCA, its got some pretty ridiculous restrictions of what can be done to software, and while I don't think it applies here I am however not a lawyer.

Ok what the hell, is the captcha system context sensitive? my word was 'infringe'. Thats just spooky.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (5, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182123)

First off EULA's are not enforceable.

Sorry; I wish this were true, but it's not. EULAs have been found firmly to be enforceable by the courts.

But enforceability of the EULA is a question that may arise in this case. And the question of enforceability of EULA may depend on which court the case is heard it. No court has made a ruling that says EULAs are generally enforceable are not.

Some courts have found that certain EULAs were enforceable in certain circumstances, others have found that certain EULAs were not enforceable, so there is still some hope that sanity may set in with the courts and the legislatures.

Additionally the laws vary from state to state; some states have passed UCITA, and EULAs are more likely to be found enforceable there.

EULAs are a matter of contract law which is a decision of the states; so it is very possible that such an agreement may be completely legal, valid and enforceable in some states, whereas other states specifically prohibit or do not give EULAs much weight in court (favoring protection of the general public's liberty instead of the corporation's privilege to restrict).

See Blizzard vs BNETD [eff.org]

At issue in this case was whether three software programmers who created the BnetD game server -- which interoperates with Blizzard video games online -- were in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Blizzard Games' end user license agreement (EULA).

The court issued summary judgement in Blizzard's favor, on the matter of the EULA, they found it enforceable, and that the authors of BNETD had violated it.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25182639)

Repeat after me;

Contracts after point of sale are not valid.

The Blizzard case you reference is unique because WoW is a service, the World of Warcraft software is next to useless without their realm services, In this case where the actual point of sale is becomes fuzzy, since aside from buying the product (which comes with subscription time) you are also subscribing to a service.

Further just because a judge decided something doesn't make it correct, thats what appeals are for. (case in point 'making available') Clearly however blizzard has more resources available than the BnetD coders. Since the American legal system is skewed in favor of the rich the BnetD guys likely just decided to cut their losses since even a win could cost them hundreds of thousands more.

If the BnetD guys had money to blow their most obvious argument is that an EULA would not apply to them since they are in fact not the end user of the software.

Finally please remember that while the DMCA applies to you Americans the rest of us don't suffer under it, so if you happen to be in an area where your corrupt officials have sold you out to the corporations you need to express your displeasure to your representatives. The rest of us however who live in places that have consumer protection laws with some teeth to them, can get on with our lives without asking a corporations permission to use something we already own.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (3, Insightful)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182773)

How exactly can an EULA be enforced against someone who doesn't own the software though? The makers of Zotero have no need to own Thompson Rueter's software. Nor is it necessary to have ever used the proprietary software in order to need to open the files. Even if you did once own TR's software, I don't know of any precedent that says you can be held to an EULA of a product you once used but no longer do (A non disclosure agreement type clause might be enforceable this way). And I somehow doubt TR can make a case that a significant portion of Zotero's users use both the TR software and Zotero, the reason to get Zotero is to stop using something else. (This differs from the BNETD case, where a user of BNETD must also have Blizzard software). In this specific case, the EULA seems unenforceable top to bottom.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1)

Brandano (1192819) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182933)

The DMCA provides specific exceptions that allow reverse engineering for the purpose of obtaining interoperability with a different software or system: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/openlaw/DVD/1201.html [harvard.edu] (paragraph f). Even if an EULA is enforceable, it cannot restrict an user's rights more than what is expressly allowed by law. I could ask in an EULA that an user is not allowed to install a competing software on his machine while my software is installed, but any court would find such a provision moot, since it would clearly fall afoul of several antitrust laws, for example.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (2, Informative)

feijai (898706) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182177)

First off EULA's are not enforceable.

They are in Virginia, one of two states to enact UCITA.

Guess which state George Mason University is a state school of.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1)

pesho (843750) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182205)

Even if it is possible, I don't see any EULA attached to the EndNote style files. There is no license, no copyright statement, nothing at all.

What exactly is the Zotero team violating?

Besides Zotero does not convert the '.ens' files to '.csl' or to anything else that is stored. It maps the fields on the fly when formatting the text.

Endnote is a pile of features added over time with no common design or any usability consideration. Its is not designed for operating systems with user level restrictions and it is barely aware of the existence of Internet. The only reason EndNote has been making money is the lack of competitors in its niche market.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (3, Interesting)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180397)

I was under the impression reverse engineering was not illegal. So why the reverse engineering claim as if this is a legal issue?

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (5, Insightful)

InspectorxGadget (1230170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180461)

Reverse engineering may be prohibited by a license agreement even though it is not protected by the protection generally afforded to trade secrets in the US, where reverse engineering is usually permissible. With that said, though, an interesting but minor issue that popped up in one of the DVD Copy Control Association, Inc. v. Bunner cases is the burden of proof that reverse engineering has actually been carried out by the defendant. In that case, the DVDCCA not only couldn't prove that Bunner (an online distributor of DVDJon's DVDDeCSS) had reverse engineered the software - required to prove the violation of the particular software's EULA - but also couldn't definitively establish that reverse engineering had even occurred. So even if someone reverse engineered Endnote - a fact that can probably be proven by analyzing the source code of Zotero's format convertor - Thomson-Reuters will still have to prove that a Zotero author or distributor subject to the EULA did so.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25181521)

IANAL, so I could be (probably) wrong, but I believe that this may normally fall under fair use clauses, and even more because its an educational facility its probably even more likely for them to get a pass on that. I doubt whether RE happened will even be an issue. I believe this would probably qualify as a dmca exemption, or at least thats how things for the security industry were explained to me when my job required me to reverse some stuff

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182183)

I wonder if the people in the organization who purchased Endnote were the same as those who developed the open source software. Surely the university and the Commonwealth of Virginia didn't sign anything to install a piece of software?

If one professor purchases software for their use, or say use by their students, does this bind the entire organization to arbitrary terms shown on the professor's screen when Accept gets clicked by someone? (Or when the person thinks they are choosing "Disagree" but the software thinks they are pressing "Agree")

Perhaps the professor has only authority to purchase certain items for classroom use; no authority to assent to such an agreement on behalf of the organization, beyond (say) agreements regarding their personal use of software.

If your friend clicks "Accept" to install a program, and one day you (a third party) download the software from their computer and reverse engineer it.

Can you be sued for supposedly violating this "EULA" that you never even got a chance to read??

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182323)

Reverse engineering may be prohibited by a license agreement even though it is not protected by the protection generally afforded to trade secrets in the US, where reverse engineering is usually permissible. With that said, though, an interesting but minor issue that popped up in one of the DVD Copy Control Association, Inc. v. Bunner cases is the burden of proof that reverse engineering has actually been carried out by the defendant.

Bear in mind that in the U.S., there is one area where reverse-engineering is against the law, and that's when reverse engineering with the (supposed) intent of circumventing copy protection; the DMCA. The DMCA is applicable to the case you noted here, but probably not here as the plaintiffs are alleging breach of contract rather than copyright infringement.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1)

Brandano (1192819) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182945)

A licence agreement can't override specific freedoms allowed by law, period. It's not the seller's right to define what the freedoms of the users are, the lawmakers are the only body that can restrict these freedoms in a law based state.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1)

QuessFan (621029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180423)

"Thomson Reuters has too many asshats."

Lord Thomson [wikipedia.org]

As a law librarian who had paid Thomson/Reuters West plenty of money, I can say that the Thomson family never felt 19 billions dollars are enough. It's always about "mo money" for Lord Thomson.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1)

SpringRevolt (1046) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183325)

From Wikipedia:

> "He became engaged to actress Kelly Rowan in late June 2007. They broke off their engagement just before Rowan gave birth to their daughter."

Sounds like a nice guy :-/

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (3, Interesting)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180457)

weren't there a bunch of alternative PDF readers long before Adobe made PDF an open format? and same with many disc image applications and proprietary file formats, non-Microsoft word processors and Word documents, Samba's interoperability with NetBIOS, etc.

this seems like a blatant attempt by a proprietary software vendor to lock Universities and other academic institutions into their software. even if Zotero does allow users to convert from EndNote's style format to other formats, there's nothing inherently illegal about that. if users wants to import their custom styles from EndNote to Zotero, then that's their right.

this is like suing filesystem developers because they include a copy feature in their software that allows users to potentially make illegal copies of files.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (2, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180567)

> even if Zotero does allow users to convert from EndNote's style format to other formats,
> there's nothing inherently illegal about that.

Reuters is not claiming (at least in the initial complaint) that there is. They are claiming that the defendants contracted not to reverse-engineer Endnotes and then did so, breaching the contract.

> this is like suing filesystem developers because they include a copy feature in their
> software that allows users to potentially make illegal copies of files.

No it isn't.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25180991)

They are claiming that the defendants contracted not to reverse-engineer Endnotes and then did so, breaching the contract.

They haven't, they reverse engineered the file format for it's styles. Users can create and export these from within Endnote. You probably only need a corpus with known data to successfully reverse engineer the format. Looks to me [zotero.org] like that was exactly how it was done.

Reverse engineering (4, Informative)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181143)

They are claiming that the defendants contracted not to reverse-engineer Endnotes and then did so, breaching the contract.

They haven't

They have:

21. On information and belief, GMU reverse engineered or decompiled the EndNote Software and proprietary .ens style files contained within the EndNote Software (emphasis mine)

While there are some style files included with EndNote, there are many user-created styles & Thomson makes MANY more styles [isiresearchsoft.com] available with no stated license and third parties (individual EndNote users) have created many more over the years. EndNote cannot claim a EULA on a file format (especially one that many people and institutions have created and distributed) & nobody has shown evidence that the EULA on the software has been violated through the decompilation of EndNote (because that never happened).

The code that you link to is in beta software and does not export a stand-alone CSL file. I know of no CSL file that has ever been publicly distributed that was derived from an .ens file.

Re:Reverse engineering (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181293)

What are you responding to? It isn't my article.

Re:Reverse engineering (1)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181347)

What are you responding to?

My response was to the anonymous coward who replied to you (who argued with your statement that Thomson claimed that the Zotero developers had reverse engineered EndNote).

Re:Reverse engineering (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25181507)

I'm not a lawyer (I'm also a different AC), but I think "on information and belief" in a complaint means "We think so, or at least we want the court to think so, but we don't really have any evidence yet." Just because the complaint says they reverse engineered it doesn't mean they did.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (2, Insightful)

DECS (891519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180609)

There are a lot of things that are "not inherently illegal" that become the basis of a civil suit after one enters an agreement not to do it. That's what this case is about, so you can stop shaking the strawman of your populist idealism.

Additionally, there are plenty of workalike compatibility tools and or independent implementations of a proprietary standard that exist, but could easily be assailed, probably successfully, by patent attacks.

Microsoft could probably easily shut down Samba if it decided it wanted to (and determined the cost was worth the bad press). Apple created its own lossless codec after determining that supporting FLAC would expose it to liability due the patent attacks. Just because something exists doesn't mean it can be defended successfully under patent assault.

The Japanese iPhone Failure Myth [roughlydrafted.com]

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (2, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180925)

"There are a lot of things that are "not inherently illegal" that become the basis of a civil suit after one enters an agreement not to do it."

This is one of the areas the people espousing the abolishment of patent and copyright laws miss. Patents and copyrights are not the only means that can be used to protect intelelctual property; trade secret and contract law also provide many opportunities to control the flow of information. In general these mechanisms are far worse for the society that relies on them than patent and copyrights; one needs to consider what current laws would be replaced with before advocating that they be discontinued.

And the ones pro Patent miss it too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25183361)

And how do you keep a trade secret on a business patent? Or "look n feel" patent? Or most software patents that say "displaying a list ordered by name ON THE INTERNET!"?

You can't.

And these are the ones that make least sense in a patent too. Causing most of the cry against patents.

Therefore this NDA/EULA only works on patents that nobody has a huge problem with patenting anyway.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (3, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180867)

No. PDF has always been well, if not fully, documented.
Somewhere in a box I still have a copy of the first PDF reference manual (along with the postscript red, green and blue books) from back around 1993.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181913)

ah, i didn't realize that. i wonder why they took so long to submit PDF as an open standard (ISO 32000-1:2008).

but the question remains, can a EULA be used to lock users/organizations into a particular company's products? i mean, if George Mason University isn't allowed to export their custom-created styles from Endnote, then couldn't a word processor's EULA forbid users from converting/reading their proprietary file format with another editor? and same with image editors. so anything you create with a particular image editor must then be forever tied to that application, taking away the copyright holder's right to reproduce, edit, or even view their own work as they wish. and if your license for that particular application expires, or the company decides to discontinue the software, then your work is lost forever.

most software applications come with some sort of license agreement that forbids the user from reverse-engineering the application. but converting your own work from a proprietary format to an open format to extricate it from the proprietary application isn't reverse-engineering the application. otherwise Samba would be considered the reverse engineering of Windows, and i hardly think Microsoft would let that slide.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182901)

ah, i didn't realize that. i wonder why they took so long to submit PDF as an open standard (ISO 32000-1:2008).

This is probably because they didn't want to relinquish the control of the PDF format until it was well developed. Or because they didn't see any benefit of submitting a format already well documented to a standardization organisation before governments expressed their preference to properly standardized formats.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25180485)

Get a grip, you may hate this lawsuit but you can't be serious about requested donations for the Commonwealth of Virgina, an organization with abundant legal and financial resources.

On donations (2, Insightful)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180769)

That is fair. And my zealousness hasn't made me write a check to the Commonwealth of Virginia. To be honest, I don't know what VA will do with this case or how the trial will work. VA is being sued simply because GMU is a state university. Will they really have a "blank check" (e.g. as many tax-payer funds that are needed) to defend this with any external counsel and experts that they wish to employ?

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25180699)

(posting anon for job reasons) My company spends over $100,000 per year for Thomson's financial database products. I'm not sure if I want to do business with people like this.

Thanks for bbrining this to light (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25180713)

and thanks to Thompson for the lawsuit. My wife is back in school and last week she was asking about purchasing endnote and I was going to research alternatives.
Zotero works very ell with FF.

Re:Thanks for bbrining this to light (2, Informative)

buswolley (591500) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182543)

Zotero is fantastic, and I've been using it for about a year now. BTW, they have Word and Open Office plugins too.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1)

mikek2 (562884) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180815)

QFT! I was going to say it myself, but what a group of asshats.

Clearly, this is the result of lawyers, not techies.

---- irks him beyond belief

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (4, Informative)

RisingSon (107571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181165)

Thomson Reuters has too many asshats.

Agreed! I dealt with them for almost a decade. I was a Bridge customer, bought by Reuters maybe 7 or 8 years ago. I also used lots of Thompson data and have colleagues who have had their companies purchased and ruined by Thompson as they so often do. I must say that a high percentage of folk I've had the pleasure to work closely with in this uber conglomerate are, in fact, asshats. Its appalling what they want to charge for data and services and their contract agreements are only second worst to Bloomberg. I've barked at their mismanagement and have actually received personal apologies from the then only Reuters senior executives. It ain't pretty.

Its not surprising this buy-the-competition-worry-about-merging-later abomination is looking for $$ now that the economy and pending regulation changes are destroying a solid chunk of the Thompson Reuters customer base. Look for them in the news again shortly.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (5, Interesting)

Geste (527302) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181361)

"There are plenty of reference managers for all platforms"

True. But I see lots of folks at my university who are addicted to EndNote's buggy "Cite While You Write" functions that provide MS-Word integration. RefWorks has an analogous "Write while you cite" function, but still lots of people have accumulated libraries in EndNote and still have a love/hate addiction to CWYW.

To make it worse, he negatives of this situation are not limited to EndNote but extend to Thomson-ISI's intent to maintain vertical lock-in. Our library provides ISI Web of Science on-line, but when you look at the licensing terms real hard it's abominable -- yes you can access these citations but don't think about really *using* them in any meaningful way (like citing them on your Web page). It's draconian.

So it feels like getting past EndNote to a more open alternative will require freeing up all elements of the stack to include citation repositories. I ask in earnest: is there an alternative vision for these? A combination of repositories, APIs and tools that would delivery a "free" citation/bib system from top to bottom?

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (1)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181877)

True. But I see lots of folks at my university who are addicted to EndNote's buggy "Cite While You Write" functions that provide MS-Word integration. RefWorks has an analogous "Write while you cite" function, but still lots of people have accumulated libraries in EndNote and still have a love/hate addiction to CWYW.A lot of products provide "cite while you write"-like functionality. Zotero has CWYW-like functionality that can round-trip between MS Word and OO.o Writer. Bibus, another free/open source reference manager, also supports both word processors. Word processor support in other reference managers is detailed on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

Our library provides ISI Web of Science on-line....more open alternative will require freeing up all elements of the stack to include citation repositories.

Zotero plans to have a citation database that runs on a web server & plans to collaborate with the internet archive to provide storage of "open" publications (unfortunately, this excludes quite a bit of traditional content). Preprint/reprint servers, such as arXiv [arxiv.org] are a step in the right direction. Google scholar [google.com] , PubMed Central [nih.gov] , and other large repositories may help break the monopoly. If you'd like to help make your papers and citation information available to others, I encourage you to try out refbase [sourceforge.net] or some other institutional repository software [wikipedia.org] .

There are a wealth of APIs and standards to support this. I'm happy to say that refbase+zotero have adopted many of them. In addition to the citation style language, linked to above & which can create formatted citations form rich metadata, there is MODS XML [loc.gov] , developed by the LoC, is a rich bibliographic format for exchange, unAPI [unapi.info] makes it easy for websites to point to machine-readable metadata. SRW [wikipedia.org] , also by the LoC, provides a uniform query language.

There are many places to follow this development, including OSS4lib [oss4lib.org] , One Big Library [onebiglibrary.net] , GCS-PCS [google.com] , and many others.

Re:"But it's just my opinion, I could be wrong" (2, Funny)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181597)

This (above) is the reference example to be used for postings.

Looks like a pretty weak case (4, Insightful)

One Louder (595430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180417)

Having read the complaint, it doesn't look like Thomson has much in the way of a case - this probably won't get very far.

They're basically relying on license language that prohibits the reverse-engineering of the program itself - but there's nothing there that prohibits reverse engineering of the file format that it uses.

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (4, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180469)

It should also be noted that as Reuters is claiming only breach of contract this suit will not prevent anyone not affiliated with the defendants from distributing and/or using the software. The project can continue if anyone is interested in continuing it even if GMU loses or gives up. I hope lots of people have downloaded the source.

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (1)

purpleraison (1042004) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181553)

It should also be noted that as Reuters is claiming only breach of contract this suit will not prevent anyone not affiliated with the defendants from distributing and/or using the software. The project can continue if anyone is interested in continuing it even if GMU loses or gives up. I hope lots of people have downloaded the source.

You do realize that GMU has a law school, and they're not afraid to use it. Reuters will get pwned.

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25180501)

And even if the EULA did prohibit reverse-engineering of the file format, and there was no DMCA or fair use protection - would they even have a case? My understanding was that EULAs were contracts, and if one broke the contract one only forfeited what one received in consideration (in this case, access & use of the software under EULA). Which wouldn't make Zotero illegal or anything.

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25180523)

I think the plan goes like this...

  1. Provide free advertising for a competing open source solution
  2. Demonstrate to existing customers you have no clue about copyright law or how working with the open source community to expand your data would benifit said customers
  3. ...
  4. Profit?

Thomson redistribute these files freely, the correct action would be to either make these files redistributable or to add support for the open file format into their product.

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180663)

More to the point, any file created by a user is inherently the sole property of the user. The only way contract terms prohibiting reverse engineering of file formats would hold up would be if the terms explicitly prohibited giving the file to anyone who is not bound by the contract.

In the absence of such a clause, as soon as that file leaves your hands into the hands of someone who did not agree to the contract terms, any rights the company has to protect their file format cease to be relevant or enforceable (with the exception of patents).

In the presence of such a clause, you're going to have a hard time selling your application to anyone with half a brain, and such a clause would almost certainly be thrown out as unconscionable because of the unreasonable burden it would place on the user to verify the license of someone else before giving that person data that the user legitimately created and on which the user holds exclusive copyright.

Either way, file formats effectively cannot be protected from reverse engineering. As such, this company would have to somehow prove that it was impossible to reverse engineer the file format without reverse engineering the app itself. Speaking as somebody who has reverse engineered file formats before, I can say that any such statement could not possibly be made by an intelligent person without it being perjury....

So there you go. This suit is frivolous, and I hope the company has to pay a few million in restitution for pain and suffering to the victims of the suit. Such IP fraud deserves nothing less than a huge in-court bitch slap. This is precisely the sort of case that makes me opposed to every aspect of the Pro-IP act.... Yet another case of copyright abuse by a corporation to harm consumers and illegally stifle competition from smaller players.... *sigh*

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180833)

Err... It's all well and good to rant about copyright but what the hell does copyright have to do with the story at hand?

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (0, Flamebait)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181333)

Err... It's all well and good to rant about copyright but what the hell does copyright have to do with the story at hand?

If you actually read the post you are referring to, you would understand. You are probably struggling with reading comprehension so I'll futilely try to help you. See, in the post you are referring to, the poster brought up an example and used the word "copyright". This does not mean his rant was about copyright. He also used the word "perjury", and again, before you mistakenly ask "what does this have to do with perjury", bear in mind that he only used the word once as part of an example. I wish I had enough time and motivation to help you more with this concept, but just trust me when I advise you to try to ask less questions in the future so you don't appear so intellectually challenged.

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182427)

I realize you're just trolling but I'll humor you.

Yet another case of copyright abuse by a corporation to harm consumers and illegally stifle competition from smaller players.... *sigh*

This would not be yet another case of copyright anything. This is yet another case of idiocy included in EULAs that hopefully no judge will enforce.

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (1)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182565)

One sentence does not a rant make. The nexus of his post was

Either way, file formats effectively cannot be protected from reverse engineering.

But once again I will pay for my razor tongue with karma.

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182841)

I'm not trolling at all. A EULA is binding upon the consumer solely because of copyright. Without copyright, because A. it is not a signed contract, B. the two parties are not equal, C. there is no negotiation, and D. the EULA is not agreed upon by both parties prior to the time of purchase, it is highly likely (nay, certain) that all EULAs would be prima facie unenforceable under pure contract law.

Without copyright to prop it up, sale of a copy of an app would be just that: a sale of a copy of an app. Therefore, EULA abuse is, by definition, copyright abuse because the former cannot rightfully exist without the latter.

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182843)

Never mind about that first part. I just realized that the thing about trolling was referring to a reply to a reply to my comment. :-) Too late at night....

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (2, Insightful)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182085)

Don't assume they did this in a clean room fashion. If the engineers did in fact agree to a EULA that said no reverse engineering and then did some reverse engineering, the plaintiff has a case. However, the only possible ruling could be that, in violation of the EULA these users or maybe the whole institution lost right to run the software. If anyone there was still running the software I can see a case for monetary damages.

A long history of non-enforcement has let horrendously one-sided EULAs slip under the radar. It's a bit much to expect individual software users to read the agreements with a legal mindset, but if this kind of litigation continues perhaps larger institutions will demand more reasonable terms.

Re:Looks like a pretty weak case (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182857)

Much as one would hope we would demand better legislators and better laws after all the draconian things that have been passed in the last few years. Doesn't make it likely. Until it bites them directly, most businesses can't be bothered to care about details like draconian EULA restrictions.... They have more important things to worry about... like lobbying to protect their offshore bank accounts from taxation. :-D

Same old story (4, Interesting)

benntop (449447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180449)

EndNote does one thing [citation management] well. The problem is that citation management isn't a difficult thing to accomplish in software. You get some information in one format, store it however you want, and then spit it out according to another format when you are done.

I am sure that EndNote is a cash cow for Thompson, but the gravy train can't last forever. Other free (Zotero) and non-free (Papers) alternatives are becoming increasingly available - and they are far better than EndNote. Suing the competition won't make that problem go away.

Re:Same old story (4, Funny)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180545)

EndNote does one thing [citation management] well.

[citation needed]

Re:Same old story (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25180589)

Actually no, Endnote does not do citation management that well. That was one of the main reasons why Bruce D'Arcus started the project. The Citation Style Language (CSL) can handle more types of citations than Endnote can.

You are also wrong thinking that this is easy to implement, but I can tell you that there are many many cases where citations can require formats that are quite though to catch in xml properly. Most implementations I have seen are too crude to do a totally reliable job. Even with CSL we still find things that are rather tough to express.

I do strongly think that CSL is a great step in the right direction for citation management. I sure hope it will get picked up much more. Endnote is in my eyes a rather poor product. It has a lot of styles and a lot of momentum, but it lacks in some important areas. This lawsuit for me shows that with CSL the CiteProc project is on the right track, because apparently it scares the hell out of Thomson/Reuters. I like healthy competition, but lawsuits like this are just petty and show only how immature these people are.

[Disclaimer, I am the author of CiteProc-Py, which is the Python implementation of a CSL citation processor. -- Johan Kool]

Re:Same old story (2, Interesting)

benntop (449447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181967)

I think that we might have different definitions of how good or bad EndNote is. As an individual neuroscience researcher who has his entire PDF library referenced in EndNote it does work well enough, not that I like it. You seem to be approaching it from a more technical standpoint of usability across many disciplines and citation types. There EndNote is indeed trash if you routinely require citations not found in EndNote's templates.

As for the technical rigor of the programming, 99% of the citations I use in my manuscripts are books and journal articles. There might be a few conference presentations, personal communications, and whatnot in there as well, but that is about it. This reduces the scope of the problem to something that IS relatively easy to implement software-wise. The goal of CSL seems to be the creation of a catch-all language that can represent any citation. This is a far different problem in terms of difficulty.

Re:Same old story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25181183)

It is the same old story, but not in the way you say.

Endnote does one thing, and does it very badly indeed. It has little intrinsic merit as a piece of software. As a result, its natural recourse is the standard business route to unmerited dominance: large contributions to VC wine budgets etc, and legal action.

All very natural. All ultimately doomed.

Re:Same old story (1)

hweimer (709734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183175)

EndNote does one thing [citation management] well. The problem is that citation management isn't a difficult thing to accomplish in software.

Absolutely true. Pybliographer [osreviews.net] has been available for years, so there is hardly a need for proprietary reference management software.

Damages? (2, Insightful)

enHatt (1283014) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180493)

The only ones using Endnote are already connected to a university or the likes which are going to pay for bulk licenses anyway. I could have gotten one without paying where I studied, but I don't use Microsoft Word, nor IE, so it's kind of a moot point. Are they afraid that most academics are going to switch to OpenOffice, Firefox and Zotero? If they are, they should relax: That's not happening for at least 10 years.

Re:Damages? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183199)

I've only occasionally come across Endnote - I think the ACM digital library has them as an optional download format for references - but in the computer science community BibTeX is pretty ubiquitous so I've never really looked at Endnote. How does it compare to BibTeX, which is around 20 years old and still seems capable of concisely expressing all of the references I've needed?

As the head instructional tech guy at my college (4, Interesting)

edremy (36408) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180513)

I guess I'll start strongly discouraging Endnote usage by all my faculty. The library already makes Refworks available and I've been using Zotero for my class this fall and love it. Endnote is expensive and since we have a pile of individual copies of varying vintage purchased through the years it's annoying to deal with anyway.

Time to talk to the reference librarians again about scheduling some more faculty training with them...

Re:As the head instructional tech guy at my colleg (2, Informative)

wanax (46819) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182617)

I totally agree in general. I've been very impressed with Zotero, and have found it adequate for basic academic needs. My main issue with it is that there's no method of syncing or consolidating and index or database between multiple comps. Since I do all my writing on my Mac laptop, I've moved over to http://mekentosj.com/papers/ [mekentosj.com] which I've found to be exactly what I'm looking for.. It has the database feature, easy complex searches like Endnote, and costs ~$26 for students, ~$50 for others. But if you don't use a Mac, Zotero is definitely the best I've used. If you are up to keeping everything on a USB key, you can keep your papers consistent no matter the comp with Zotero.

I'd never heard of Zotero before.. (5, Interesting)

thephydes (727739) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180535)

probably the same as many other users. Nothing like some free advertising. I've downloaded it and will probably start using it. And yes I usually use endnote.

Re:I'd never heard of Zotero before.. (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180677)

probably the same as many other users. Nothing like some free advertising. I've downloaded it and will probably start using it

Ditto for me. I hadn't heard of this before but it looks like it would be worth a try. If it works out well I will be encouraging the other faculty to take it for a trial run.

Re:I'd never heard of Zotero before.. (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181263)

(To the theme of Obmoz.com. the quadratic parody of Zombo.com)
We are suing people involved with *open source Zotero*.
Never use Zotero. Zotero is bad. Yopu might think of using Zotero, but then we might sue you. Be afraid of Zotero! What was that program you were supposed to avoid again? Oh Yes. Zotero. That's right, make sure you remember to avoid *Zotero*.

(Citations, managed without paying the lawsuit aggressors.)

1. Zombo.com. Presumably a parody of empty DotBomb pseudocompanies, and possibly FeelGood management in general. http://www.zombo.com/ [zombo.com]

2. Obmoz.com. Meta-Parody of the highest class, repurposed by me for this additional context as an example of the mistake a lot of companies seem to be making these days. The brain attaches itself to nouns, so trumpeting the noun-name of your competitor that you hate defeats your purpose. http://www.obmoz.com/ [obmoz.com]

reuters just opened up a whole can of worms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25180601)

If I were an attorney for the defense I would just be drooling to file the antitrust counterclaim for "making a contract in restraint of trade."

Treble damages ftw!

If you haven't already . . . (4, Insightful)

base3 (539820) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180619)

. . . remove the "[zotero.org]" /. inserts first:

Never know what idiotic (or corrupt) judge might grant a preliminary injunction forcing them to remove the source.

Re:If you haven't already . . . (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181067)

Mod parent up.

GMU Library provides both (5, Interesting)

dtaciuch (229229) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180637)

I teach at GMU (English); the library here has links to both Zotero and Endnote (with a site license for the latter. I wonder how much that cost?).

I plan to ask the library to drop the license for Endnote; why pay them to sue us?

I encourage my research writing classes to use Zotero anyway.

Re:GMU Library provides both (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25181297)

Posting anonymously as I work within GMU (and don't have job protections that parent probably has).

If software is managed campus-wide, then there's no need to bother the library. As far as I've heard (e-mail on the 25th), the entire university is dropping the EndNote site license as of Nov. 16. (Obviously, the injunction could have an impact on that.)

We've been warned that EndNote is so tightly integrated with Microsoft Word and the rest of our base PC software load that there may be undesirable side effects when the license expires on November 16 -- it's too late to redo the image, so EndNote will have to stay installed but nonfunctional until the Spring image is pushed in January. I've only had a handful of students ask about using EndNote (to be fair to Zotero, I didn't even know about the software until we got notice that it would replace EndNote) and I've never come across a faculty member using it as part of a class.

I was surprised by the announcement of the switch, since Zotero is FOSS. Quite frankly, the university spends money where it doesn't need to, and cuts corners where it shouldn't, which usually results in backpedaling, costing students and taxpayers. But maybe someone at GMU has figured out that trading expensive site-licensed software for comparable free software is a better alternative than cutting student services and operating hours in light of the recent statewide budget crunch.

Re:GMU Library provides both (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25181797)

...the entire university is dropping the EndNote site license as of Nov. 16....and I've never come across a faculty member using it as part of a class.

You hit every important point.
The school doesn't need it, no professor I've ever had used it (GMU=Undergrad + masteres), and there are free alternatives now.

    Bascially Endnote is pissed that GMU won't be giving them shit-tons of cash for a product license no one needs. And this is america...so they sue.

Re:GMU Library provides both (1)

a5an0 (1351957) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182555)

I'm a student at GMU, and I had no idea that we made zotero. I always did find it strange that it was (on of the few extensions) installed on the school's computers....

fantastic news (2, Funny)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180711)

Really, what better way to make end users aware of the risks involved when they're using proprietary file formats?

Sue your own customers because they try to break the lock in? Great plan!

I'm sure that 'Thomas Reuters' will see their business go through the roof after this :)

Re:fantastic news (3, Insightful)

gronofer (838299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181551)

Really, what better way to make end users aware of the risks involved when they're using proprietary file formats?

Sue your own customers because they try to break the lock in? Great plan!

I'm sure that 'Thomas Reuters' will see their business go through the roof after this :)

What better way to make anybody, large organization or individual, aware of the risk of open source software development? Why allow resources to be used, perhaps when it's hard to even measure the financial return, when you are opening yourself up to the possibility of multi-million dollar lawsuits, with all of the wasted management time and legal costs that will be incurred even if you fight and win?

Just saying, I think the legal system as it relates to software is completely broken.

Re:fantastic news (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183067)

unfortunately your point is very valid, it's just that in this particular case the message seems to be don't start developing an open source product without checking the license of the products you own that you plan on replacing

everybody else is free to do so anyway (maybe not as motivated though).

LaTeX + BibTeX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25180749)

How is the title not a solution over this?

Re:LaTeX + BibTeX? (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25180985)

It is a solution. But so is writing all your cited works on individual index cards and alphabetizing them.

I'd say more but I've got to get back to sorting my wires by the color of their insulators so that I'll have time to make some penny and nickel rolls.

Re:LaTeX + BibTeX? (2, Informative)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181421)

Both EndNote and Zotero can export BibTeX. Zotero can import BibTeX and you can transform BibTeX into a file format that EndNote can import.

Reference management software normally provides more than a single BibTeX file does--it can retrieve citation information in a way that is faster/easier than "wget http://some_publisher/some_journal/some_volume/some_paper/import.bib [somepublisher] && cat import.bib >> bibtex_file.bib" (and can convert it if that site has no native BibTeX file. Zotero can index attached PDFs for full-text searching. It has much better support for UTF-8. You can easily give your bibliography to others who don't use BibTeX. You can store your notes and highlights on articles in your database. There are a ton of other features too.

BibTeX is a good (if somewhat dusty) file format that I use often. It is not the sole solution to reference management.

why a jury trial? (3, Interesting)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181187)

I wonder why Thomson is demanding a jury trial in a technical case like this. Surely they don't expect a company like theirs to come off as a particularly sympathetic victim. Juries tend to find cases like this confusing. I would think that I would prefer trial before a judge. Or is the idea that their case is so bad their only hope is to confuse a jury?

Endnote should die (3, Interesting)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181229)

Some colleagues keep suggesting that I use Endnote to keep track of my citations and so every year or two I give it a try. Even though they seem to update it every year it is still one of the worst programs I've ever used. It is unintuitive, offers no real error messages so you can't tell if it is working or not, and its method of inputting citations by hand is frustrating and confusing.

I've only tried Zotero once shortly after it came out but hopefully it will survive this lawsuit and last long after Endnote is long forgotten...

That reminds me... (1)

ianm.phil (1140173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181235)

Thanks Thomson Reuters, you just reminded me to install Zotero on all my Firefox installations now that I am back in grad school. Phew, without this post on /., it probably would have slipped my mind completely...

Can you say... (5, Interesting)

Kalten (20368) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181261)

...f***ing hypocrites?

Thomson alleges that GMU's Center for History and New Media reverse engineered Endnote and that the beta version of Zotero can convert (in violation of the Endnote EULA) the proprietary style files that are used by Endnote to format citations into the open CSL file format.

Thomson Reuters has a major division that develops tax and accounting software. The important thing to know about the tax and accounting software market is that it's saturated. Every accountant who wants software has it. If you want customers, you've got two choices: either get new accountants just coming into the market (which is balanced out by accountants retiring or otherwise leaving the market), or take them from your competitors.

And how do you take customers from your competitors, you ask?

First, by making better software. Second, by making sure that your prospective new customers don't have to re-enter every bit of information. You develop conversion software. Yes, that's right. You develop software--most likely in violation of the competitor's software's EULA--that extracts the data and digests it into a format that your software can handle.

And Thomson Reuters does this on a regular basis.

I used to work for them. I did exactly that for seven years. I think they may have just opened a can of worms that they really don't want to have open.

Beware! Virginia is a UCITA state (5, Informative)

grandpa-geek (981017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181271)

Virginia was one of the two states that stupidly enacted the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA). Maryland was the other. Maryland made a few significant changes; Virginia changed very little.

UCITA allows nasty provisions to be inserted in EULA's and is tilted to favor the large, downstream licensor (such as Reuters). IIRC, the version of UCITA enacted in Virginia doesn't even guarantee the licensee access to a copy of the license after the licensee clicks "I Accept" and allows EULA provisions under which the licensor can post revisions to the license on a web page at any time with the licensee being bound to the revised license without any other notice.

With Virginia being a UCITA state, I wouldn't make any assumption about the strength of Reuters' case or what seems reasonable in a proper system of law. UCITA could let Reuters get away with things that would shock the conscience of anyone with a sense of fairness.

Zotero is a brilliant piece of work (5, Insightful)

yes it is (1137335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181391)

Zotero is the best piece of software I've come across in a long time, and the database schema is particularly nice. I always thought that Thomposon were fools. Now on one side they're having their lunch eaten by google scholar, and on the other side by a variety of free and/or open source bibliographic managers. For any Thomposon execs reading - if you don't stop regarding the users data as your property and start opening up instead, your decline will be much faster than similar proprietary software companies.

Does not bode well for Reuters (2, Funny)

l00sr (266426) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181489)

So apparently, Reuters recently got bought out by Thomson. Let's hope they don't start suing Wikinews...

The refuge of the frightened and the incompetent (3, Insightful)

Arrogant-Bastard (141720) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181623)

Thomson has obviously come to the conclusion that they cannot compete against a superior piece of software -- so rather than admitting this, they are going to try to use their legal thugs to crush it. We have seen this strategy many times before, so it is nothing new. But it is still a pathetic, transparently desperate action deserving only of our contempt.

Subject (2, Funny)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25181633)

Not that I'll ever be likely to use this extension, but: *Archived*!

The end of endnote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25181935)

This is so funny. I was just talking to my Mum who is a university librarian. Her students have so many issues with Endnote, and most of it seems to be because of a lack of standardisation between publishers. There are also issues of ensuring file associations and correct extensions for the portfolio of existing "standards".

I was saying that it won't take long before a group of rival publishers get the shits with Thompson and offer an alternative solution which works way better than endnote.

Thank you for sueing Zotero. Not only will you be unsuccessful, you will also raise the profile of zotero.

Explanation neccisary (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182275)

This is one of the few times in history that a non gaming story has been posted on slashdot that involves a technology I don't understand the use of. Someone please attempt to try and explain why they use citation software. I've googled,wikipedia-ed and left a few messages on friends answering machines. So I'm turing to you o 'ye unwashed slashdot hordes. You're my last hope.

Re:Explanation neccisary (2, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182723)

If you're a scholar you need to cite your sources when you write, in a variety of formats, and you also need to learn about publications in the areas you work on. A citation manager helps you do this. The core of a citation manager is a bibliographic database. Each record corresponds to one journal article, book, technical report, or publication. Each record contains information about the author or authors, title, name of the journal, volume, number, pages, etc. A citation manager also contains import tools of two sorts. One kind allows you to import bibliographic information in bulk, so that you can incorporate bibliographies that other people have prepared. The other kind extracts information from other single citations. Suppose that you are reading a journal article on-line and that it references something that you should look up. The input tool will let you select the on-line citation and assist you in entering it into your database.

The other major function of a citation manager is formatting, which is what is at issue here. Different publications require bibliographic information to be formatted differently. For example, some put journal names in italics, while others use a normal slat. Some put the year of publication in parentheses, others set it off with periods. Some put the journal volume number in bold face. You might have something like:

Watson, James D. and Francis Crick (1953)
"Molecular structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid," Nature 171:737-38

or

Watson, James D. and Francis Crick. 1953.
"Molecular structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid. Nature 171.737-38

Instead of having to manually format each bibliographic entry, the citation manager keeps the information in a format-free abstract representation (that is, each piece of information in a separate field) and lets you choose the format in which to export references for use in your paper. In order to do this, it needs to have a specification of the style used by the publication for which you are writing, where each style contains information like "journal volume number appears in bold face" and "year of publication is surrounded by parentheses". EndNote has a collection of several thousand such style files, which are in its own proprietary format. Zotero currently has a much smaller collection of style files, which are in its open XML-based format. EndNote is claiming that Zotero has breached a contractual prohibition against reverse-engineering their software in order to create a tool for converting style files from EndNote's format to Zotero's.

Google Scholar 'Import to EndNote' link (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182781)

I've had Zotero isntalled for a while but I'd not got round to using it, so with all this kerfuffle on slashdot I thought I'd have a play.

  So I went to google scholar and googled myself, as you do.

  So I check out a few things, and use the button on the URL bar to add them to Zotero. Neat, no more fiddling with curly brackets and at-signs in my .bib files, EVAR!

  And then I notice the 'Import into EndNote' links on my papers in Google Scholar. I click, thinking I'll get to save an EndNote format reference so I can reverse-engineer it and get sued, and guess what... IT IMPORTS IT INTO ZOTERO!! There's an option in Zotero to use it for RIS/Refer files, so maybe that's what the .enw file is. Anyway, I'm not sure if I set that up or if it was the default.

  Now, I can well imagine the EndNote guys not being happy with that! Although I doubt there's anything they can do about it... Muahahaha.

Endnote backend is MySQL... (1)

EuIdZero (1173157) | more than 5 years ago | (#25182793)

I wonder if Thomson Reuters conforms to Mysql licensing terms...

Zotero is a great reference manager (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25182977)

I would definitely encourage any researchers out there to give Zotero a go. Our research group have been using it for a while now and it makes our lives much easier. Dealing with references is now completely pain-free.

Everyone take a copy of Zotero (1)

jopet (538074) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183241)

If they want to invest in lawyers instead of developers they should prepare to sue a lot of people and organizations all over the world. And that includes countries where there alleged basis for sueing does not even exist.
I have had my issues with End Note before and I have long ago decided to avoid it like the devil. This move is just a little detail that reinforces my decision.

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