Following GMU’s release, Thomson Reuters has their own. In it, Thomson Reuters VP, Business Strategy and Development, Dave Kochalko claims:
Simply put, we strongly believe that the creators of Zotero have reverse engineered our software code which enables EndNoteâ€™s bibliographic formatting capability. These format files only exist as software code; there is no content or information independent of lines of code and these files can only be interpreted by the computer. A key value of EndNote is its ability to format a bibliography within a manuscript and the format files are integral to that capability. We have talented employees who have invested many years in building this resource for the EndNote community.
Notice the subtle legal/technical sleight of hand here: he says
we strongly believe that the creators of Zotero have reverse engineered our software code, but he’s not actually referring to the application code itself, which is what one normally means when one refers to reverse-engineering of software. Rather, he is making the absolutely ridiculous claim that the style files themselves constitute “software” and thus that reverse-engineering the files constitutes reverse-engineering of the “Endnote software.”
Just to again bring up an analogy: this would be equivalent to Microsoft suing OpenOffice.org, Sun, and so forth for reverse-engineering Word when they reverse-engineered the Word file format. These are completely different technical and legal issues, but Dave wants to collapse them.
I cannot believe they actually make this claim in good faith; it seems more likely to me that they are attempting to confuse the issue so as to constrain competition in the marketplace, and it’s for this reason they are asking for a jury trial.
Note, also, that they claim that they
have talented employees who have invested many years in building this resource for the EndNote community, but fail to note that their users have done much of the work on Endnote style files, and seem to have no problem at all implying that those users are violating the law if they want to use that work in other contexts.
I realize there’s already been some significant backlash against this suit, but maybe it’s time to start a formal “boycott Endnote” campaign to encourage individuals to migrate away from Endnote, and for institutions to drop their site licenses?