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Thomson Reuters Believes They Own All Endnote Style Files??

Along with Thomson Reuters’ lawsuit against GMU/Zotero, they’ve also sought to close down access to their style files. They have done this by slapping a terms of use agreement on their own online style archive. But, some Endnote users have asked, what does this mean for them sharing their styles?

We have an answer:

It has always been and continues to be our policy that licensed EndNote individual and institutional customers are free to customize and share style (.ens), database (.enl & .enlx), filter (.enf), and connection (.enz) EndNote files created using EndNote with other licensed EndNote users for use solely in conjunction with the Software.

Jason Rollins, EndNote Product Development

So, someone asks in reply, what does this really mean?

Just for clarification: would these limitations apply not only to files that were originally distributed by EndNote, but also to files that are created in EndNote from scratch? I can’t find anything in my current EULA that would limit my rights for such files and no other software I have seems to make these claims. If I write a paper in Word, Microsoft doesn’t limit my distribution rights of that file.

Answer, from Thomson Reuters’ alternative universe:

Just to be completely clear, it has never been possible to create an EndNote Bibliographic Output Style file (.ens) file “from scratch”. When one creates a new .ens file from within EndNote, this is actually a modification of a file template that contains thousands of characters of code that defines many default and essential characterics of the file and its interaction with other components of the overall EndNote application.

Wow; this is really breathtaking! I really can’t believe they actually want to claim that they own ALL Endnote style files and can constrain how they’re used! Nevermind that any file, of any format, is going to contain many default and essential characteristics of the file and its interaction with other components; it’s true of a Word template file, or some database, or whatever.

This is the most ridiculous IP claim I’ve seen in a long while. I hope some of the legal blogs that have been following this manage to pick this up and analyze it from a more formal legal perspective.

6 Comments

  1. Rog says:

    All your files are belong to us! Bwua ha ha ha!

  2. I doubt this will hold in court. Or let me say it the other way round: If this way of reasoning is successful, the consequences would be dramatic …

  3. Bruce D'Arcus says:

    Yes. If this does go to court, I would hope part of the outcome would be to reject this entire argument, and force Thomson Reuters to remove the restrictions.

  4. Well… Am I correct in remembering that a blank MS Word document is based on the MS Word “default” template? If so, then this logic can have serious (and immediately obvious) consequences. This might help bring the IP mess to the mainline news…

    Disclaimer: I haven’t used MS Word for years..

  5. Bruce D'Arcus says:

    @Karl: I think virtually any file format includes some kind of default coding. That’s certainly true of a word-processor template file.

    My guess is this suit doesn’t ultimately go anywhere near realizing these hypothetical threats. I would hope it would get thrown out before even proceeding to trial.

  6. mb says:

    @Karl: “Am I correct in remembering that a blank MS Word document is based on the MS Word ‘default’ template? “

    Yes you are correct: All documents produced in MS Word are derived from a template called NORMAL.DOT