21 November 2014

The case of the missing critique

Regular readers might notice that a post that had been put up earlier this week is no longer available.

The blog post in question was a critique of a poster archived at Academia.edu. The poster was from a conference back in 2011. I thought the poster was worth analyzing, and I wrote a blog post about it.

Today, I got an email from one of the authors of the post asking me to take it down, for reasons that do not need exploring at this juncture. I was asked why this post was done without mentioning I had permission of the authors to use the poster. This is something I normally mention in my critiques.

Most posters are submitted to me directly by the person who made them, sometimes before the conference. They may have unpublished data, and so on, and are not (as far as I know) otherwise available to viewers outside the conference itself. So I ask people who email things to me if I can use them on them here on the blog.

In contrast, this poster was archived in a public forum online. To my way of thinking, this made it available for public comment. I know that “on the Internet” does not mean “do what you want” (see this great article by Alex Wild) but I did not see any particular language anywhere on the site limiting re-use. (The poster is no longer available, so I can’t check if there was any such verbiage anywhere.)

I had no reason to ignore a polite request, so I took down the post.

The moral of the story? Not sure. Maybe it’s about being careful about what you archive and how, and managing your digital footprint. Maybe it’s about being more careful in doing due diligence in contacting people who might be affected by re-use.

External links

Bugging out: How rampant online piracy squashed one insect photographer

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