Springer Statement on Springer Images
5 June 2012

We have contacted Peter Murray-Rust, a blogger, to discuss Springer Images.  Mr Murray-Rust has drawn attention to problems with the www.springerimages.com website and Springer is working flat out to correct them. Mr Murray-Rust has, on his blog (http://blogs.ch.cam.ac.uk/pmr/2012/06/05/springergate-update-from-bettina-goerner-and-some-explanations-i-urge-that-scientific-images-should-be-free-as-in-speech-for-everyone/), made allegations that are untrue and we would like to respond to them.

An image that shows up on Springer Images must first be published in a Springer book or journal via the normal publication process, including delivery into our publishing content system. The image is then delivered for display on Springer Images (with the appropriate copyright attribution as determined by the metadata).

We screen for keywords in the caption (in both English and German) that indicate that an image is "used with permission" or "copyright" of someone else to make a decision whether to include an image or not.

It is, however, possible that an image is used by an author without correct attribution, i.e. that correct attribution is not indicated in the caption. Unfortunately, as a result, the incorrect copyright attribution displays on Springer Images. However, we would like to make it very clear that, in every case where this is brought to our attention, we remove the images manually, usually on the same day the problem is reported.

This hardly constitutes "mass copytheft". http://blogs.ch.cam.ac.uk/pmr/2012/06/04/springer-asserts-copyright-over-wikimediawikipedia-content-technical-incompetence-or-mass-copytheft/

Mr Murray-Rust not only attributes the problem incorrectly to Springer Images, but also insinuates that Springer is selling commercial rights to use images that are already open access. This is not only outrageous and blatantly false, it also damages our reputation.

Open access images on Springer Images are open access, full stop. They are available for use according to the relevant open access license of the publication.

In this particular case, the type of OA license is listed incorrectly and ensuring that it is listed correctly is what we are working on solving. Also, for some images coming from OA articles, the copyright reads Springer or BioMed Central but should read “The authors”. This is something we are in the process of fixing as well.

Licenses for Springer Images do not cover the OA content, only the content for which Springer owns the copyright.

The larger implication, that Springer is "stealing" copyright and the insinuation that Springer is attempting to profit from “ill-gotten gains” is false and we call upon Peter Murray-Rust to correct this allegation immediately.

Springer is one of the few large publishers that has enthusiastically embraced open access, and we are not in the business of hoodwinking our customers or the researchers we work with.

That said, we are addressing the problems as quickly as we can and are grateful to the scientific community for their help in pointing out the problem.

Wim van der Stelt
Executive Vice President
Corporate Strategy
Springer Science+Business Media
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