Monthly Archives: September 2008

“If you can’t compete, sue?”

It’s been a while since I posted here, but I hope to get back on track.

I start this comeback by sharing a piece of news i got through the grapevine about EndNote suing Zotero.  The comment in the email I got is what you see in the title.  The content was a Slashdon post:

“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.”

For those of you who are not familiar with the two programs, both of them are citation management programs that for me really changed the way I think while writing academic papers and the way I manage my readings.

Endnote logo

My first introduction to citation management software was through Endnote, but within less than half a year I switched to Zotero as I found it more comprehensive, smoother, and better answering my needs.  This is of course not to mention that Zotero is free, while Endnote had (at least then) a price tag of about $100.  I truly hope that there is not much substance behind Endnote’s suit.  From my limited knowledge, Zotero was a research project funded by a number of reputable sources and is remaining in that category (i.e. non -commercial).  Zotero logo I have huge doubts that these foundations would support reverse engineering of a proprietary software and I have even more serious doubts that researchers would undertake something (not very smart) like that.  We shall see as it evolves.

Interestingly, just today there was an intersting article in WP taking an analytical look at the presidential candidats’ tech agenda.  It examined their platforms focusing on “five key consumer-tech topics: broadband availability, “net neutrality,” copyright policy, the patent system and electronic privacy.”  It looks like both McCain and Obama’s main point about the copyright is revising the classc concepts and adding “more patent examiners.”  I wonder what these ides may mean for the Endnote-Zotero case.  Any thoughts?