Tuesday, November 17, 2009

William Dembski would like to use copyright to quash criticism

Although when it comes to other people's works, William Dembski hasn't seen a problem with taking copyrighted material and using it wholesale, dubbing over a computer animated video from Harvard and XVIVO of the inner workings of a cell with his own intelligent design-based commentary, when it comes to his own work he has a different standard.

Mark Chu-Carroll points out at his Good Math, Bad Math blog that Dembski is talking about using threats of claimed copyright infringement to shut down criticism of a recent paper he published with Robert Marks. That criticism includes pointing out that sources cited by Dembski don't say what he says they do, and providing counterexamples to Dembski's mathematical claims. Rather than respond to the criticism, Dembski would rather shut it down.

There are just a few problems with that--first, the criticism may well be fair use. Although it does quote a great deal of the paper by Dembski and Marks, it does so for the purpose of putting commentary and criticism side-by-side with quotations from the paper. Second, papers published by the IEEE require that copyright be transferred to the IEEE, so Dembski lacks standing even if there were infringement.

Check out the RationalWiki critique of the Dembski and Marks paper.

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