Zimmer, for those who are not familiar, is a science writer who also now has a good blog (called The Loom) but is probably best known for his articles in the New York Times and his books. (I have not read all of his books, but his Evolution book is quite good and I have Parasite Rex but alas have not read it yet).
Anyway, Zimmer in his new blog writes about how Open Access science makes his blog easy because he can use a figure from a PLoS paper (on mouse genetic interactions) and rather than sue him, PLoS simply encourages him. I could blather on and on about this (and in fact have - see here for example). But better to just read his words:
And what do I now hear from PLOS? Do I hear the grinding of lawyerly knives? No. I hear the blissful silence of Open Access, a slowly-spreading trend in the journal world. PLOS makes it very clear on their web site that "everything we publish is freely available online throughout the world, for you to read, download, copy, distribute, and use (with attribution) any way you wish." No muss, no fuss. If I want to blog about this paper right now, I can grab a relevant image right now from it. In fact, I just did.
I certainly appreciate the importance of copyrights (as the owner of many for my articles and books), but in these situations, keeping information behind a thick wall starts to seem a bit crazy, like the loss of precious bodily fluids. Far from committing some sort of violation to the PLOS paper, I have actually just spread the word about it. A few readers may even go back to read the original. And it was so easy and straightforward for me to do so that I will be very reluctant to bother with anything else.
You go Carl. Welcome to the wonderful world of OA.