Nature Blog Network

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Screw EndNote, Try Zotero

From Courthouse News (via Crooked Timber via Boing Boing):

"Thomson Reuters demands $10 million and an injunction to stop George Mason University from distributing its new Web browser application, Zotero software, an open-source format that allows users to convert Reuters' EndNote Software. Reuters claims George Mason is violating its license agreement and destroying the EndNote customer base.

Thomson Reuters also sued the Commonwealth of Virginia, in Richmond City Court. George Mason, founded in 1972, is a state institution.

Reuters says its EndNote Software "allows end users to search online bibliographic databases, organize their references, images, and .pdfs in any language, and instantly create bibliographic reference style files and figure lists in Thomson's proprietary .ens style format for over 3,500 journals and publications."

The complaint states, "Dr. Daniel J. Cohen, Associate Professor, Department of History and Art History, and the director of GMU's Center for History and New media, developed Zotero, which is a freely distributable, open-source software based research tool that allows users to gather, organize and analyze sources, including citations, and freely share the results with others."

The Center for History and New Media release "a new beta version of Zotero to the general public" on July 8. Reuters adds, "A significant and highly touted feature of the new beta version of Zotero, however, is its ability to convert - in direct violation of the License Agreement - Thomson's 3,500 plus proprietary .ens style files within the EndNote Software into free, open source, easily distributable Zotero .csl files."
It claims GMU reverse engineered Reuters' EndNote software to create Zotero"
I've heard of Zotero before, but it sort of irks me when a large corporation sues their userbase because they were smart enough to figure out their proprietary format on their own. It is not like Cohen and GMU stole company secrets. They reverse engineered the file format. Kudos to them I say! I am downloading Zotero right now and will be testing out that file format conversion feature on my library of 3500+ articles (with pdfs). It actually looks pretty cool! Check out their homepage. This will be a great addition my growing collection of open source software including NeoOffice, Mozilla and R. I'll test it out and post a review after several days. In the meanwhile, why not download and install Zotero for yourself in protest, or at least out of curiosity.

Applied Abstractions states:
"Zotero is a better tool, too. Shared lists, bibliographies, support for clipping from searches, including Google Scholar. Instant saves from browsing.

Time to move, methinks. Let me see, how hard would it be to migrate my 2100+ article database.... "


  1. I've been using zotero for a while and its pretty useful! Another great product from a great educational institute!

  2. Ha! Well you are kind of biased since they pay your bills ;)

    I uploaded my entire library. It was very easy and I let it go overnight. I love the browser interface with Mozilla. So far, I like what I see. I can't wait to try out some of its web features.

  3. Off topic:

    I'm a PhD student at Penn State and came across your blog through the blog roll of someone I read regularly.

  4. I have used Zotero off and on for about a year. I really like it and on the PC it was what I used as I really dislike Endnotes. On the Mac right now I use Papers for searching, organizing, archiving and reading science papers. Once I found a way to bridge Papers & Zotero it became my tool on the Mac as well.

    Thompson can have Endnote, and may a hord of deep sea isopods shred their lawsuit into tiny bits.

  5. I wait for a more detailed review...


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