This is an important case. Very important.
On one side, we have a major media conglomerate, part of which is a news service. We have all heard of the financial problems that traditional news media have been having recently (at least I hope we all have).
Thomson Reuters (Scientific) Inc. launched a lawsuit against George Mason University The Citizen Media Law Project has copies of the filings here. George Mason University’s “Center for History and New Media” had developed a really neat Firefox add-on called Zotero. Zotero is a research tool which is really useful for writers in particular (and now you know what I use). Thomson Reuters was upset because an Alpha version of Zotero had the ability to read the data files of their own EndNote product, a commercial product that competes with Zotero. This functionality was apparently never released in a production version. A complication is that the University has a site license for EndNote.
Today one of the co-directors of the Zotero project, Sean Takats, announced in a blog post, that the case has been dismissed. As of the present time the Judge’s order hasn’t been posted, and we don’t know why he issued a dismissal. And in this case the reasoning is very important.
The entire case appears to be an attack by Thomson Reuters on several fronts:
1) reverse engineering
2) providing a free alternative to proprietary software
3) money against an educational institution
4) intimidation of an educational institution
I am hoping (and a lot of others are as well) that the judge dismissed the case with prejudice, and wrote a scathing attack against Thomson Reuters, who in my opinion acted like a spoiled brat, rather than a responsible corporation in bring this suit.
As I said – this case is important. If the judge dumps on Thomson Reuters actions, it will send a message to other corporate spoiled brats. If he doesn’t, it encourages the corporate spoiled brats to act like, well, spoiled brats. Stay tuned, I will be blogging on the dismissal when it’s posted.
And the University shouldn’t renew it’s site license for EndNote, no matter why the case was dismissed.