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Re: [ontology-summit] IPR questions relating to the OOR Initiative [was

To: Ontology Summit 2008 <ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 7 May 2008 15:40:03 -0500
Message-id: <9D2B2674-E253-4C6E-8D87-89DAA569B0C6@xxxxxxxx>
Comments on a week-old post, but certain portions are still in play,  
unfortunately, and certain other important charges from PDM haven't  
been addressed.    (01)

On Apr 29, 2008, at 7:42 PM, paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
> ...
> I indeed maintain that my contribution to the OOR discussion lies in  
> my open ontology work, of which OOR reflects some of its content,  
> and I maintain that my work should be referenced appropriately.    (02)

And it *is* referenced appropriately, namely, not at all.  Almost  
anything anyone says about any topic "reflects some of the content" of  
something someone else has said on that topic.  Aside from the sheer  
practical impossibility of the task, an author has no obligation to  
track down every "reflection" of everything he or she says.  Hence, it  
seems to me that you have a legitimate ethical complaint (and I'm  
guessing a legitimate legal complaint, but IANAL) only if (i) you can  
document overt plagiarism -- in which your very words, perhaps with  
only very small changes, are used without attribution, or (2) you can  
demonstrate that someone has in fact drawn directly, intentionally,  
and substantially upon your written work without acknowledgement.   
However, we have the testimony of the chief author of the Communique,  
Fabian Neuhaus, that in fact "your ideas had *no* impact on the text  
that is now part of the communique".  Not that Fabian cannot be taken  
at his word, as he is a scrupulously honest scientist, but, having  
compared the two documents, in my opinion it is more than clear his  
claim is true.  So the mere fact that the communique "reflects" some  
of the content of your own work is no more significant than the fact  
that it "reflects" some of the content of thousands of other related  
documents on related topics.    (03)

> I also maintain that by virtue of such contribution, I should have  
> been added/invited to the founders meeting, and that did not happen  
> because invitations to join OOR founders meeting were dispatched  
> selectively, and did not reach the public list members via an email  
> with appropriate subject line as other ontolog events, which is  
> unusual.    (04)

There is nothing the least bit unusual about it.  What would you  
propose?  Making an open call to all 500+ Ontolog participants?  The  
"founders", despite the august connotations of the term, were just a  
small group of Ontolog participants that Peter put together to help  
get the OOR initiative off the ground.  I'm sure that, for sheer  
considerations of efficiency, he didn't include any number of  
qualified people.  Your exclusion, while perhaps an oversight, should  
not be taken as a personal affront.    (05)

> Of course I cannot claim ownership of Open Ontology, but I claim  
> ownership of open ontology discussions and papers which I have  
> contributed to this list, which have been taken either verbatim    (06)

Verbatim?  Where, exactly?  If that is true, then an acknowledgment  
might be warranted.    (07)

> or presented with modified wording as contribution to OOR discussions.    (08)

So, it appears, your claim is that someone intentionally took your  
actual words from your "published" work and modified them without  
crediting you.  A very serious charge!  You are charging that someone  
on the Ontolog community is guilty of a grave  violation of  
professional ethics.  Fabian has already stated that nothing of the  
sort took place in the writing of the Communique, and that he and  
others involved weren't even aware of your work.  So what is your  
evidence that this is not true?  Charges of such gravity should not be  
put forth frivolously, but only on the basis of the strongest of  
evidence.  If you have no evidence, then it is in fact YOU who are  
guilty of a serious violation of professional ethics, if not the law,  
as you are calling the integrity of other professionals into question  
with absolutely no warrant.    (09)

> I can make a much lengthier argument - and will do so with the  
> appropriate representation if that becomes necessary, but so far I  
> am satisfied by the acknowledgments of the issues raised by other  
> members of the community, and look forward to developments and  
> rectification where is due, as you deem appropriate, and that any  
> copyright infringement of derived efforts such as separate OOR  
> initiatives under a different IPR policy, where they draw from  
> public discussions in open forum, will be constrained by existing  
> IPR policies and copyright ownership and other claims of attribution
> Please do not take any of the above as a threat,    (010)

But that is precisely what it is.  You might as well ask us not to  
take any of the above as, say, written in English.  What else is the  
assertion that you will pursue your charges "with the appropriate  
representation if that becomes necessary" than an attempt to bully and  
intimidate with the threat of litigation?    (011)

> but as free advice!    (012)

Oh please.  It's like Big Louie's "free advice" to the shopkeeper that  
he pay for "protection" lest he find himself with a broken kneecap.    (013)

Chris Menzel    (014)

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