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Variations in reproduction charges for figures in a review article

1 October 2007 5 Comments

Interesting morning negotiating the problems of getting permission to re-produce figures in a review I am currently writing. I wanted to reproduce figures from four papers, two from J Mol Biol (Elsevier), one from Structure (Cell Press), one from J Biol Chem (ASBMB). I could request permission for all three journals from copyright.com and as I’m in a rush I did this. Looking back at the journal websites now it appears that I should have gone to copyright clearance centre for the J Mol Biol ones and for the article in Structure.

At copyright.com the JBC article was charged at USD73 to reproduce a figure and at the copyright clearance centre it seems that the others are around USD23. Putting aside the issues of the price differential here I am wondering when these charges came in. The last time I wrote a review like this there was an administrative charge of $1.50 (I think) on one of the images I borrowed. Admittedly that was a couple of years ago. These are mostly representations of the structure of biological macromolecules so there is a clear creative aspect in generating the original figures.

Anyway, I’m tied in now, so will report back what the final charges are. I did consider asking the authors of the original papers for different, non-copyright, versions of the pictures but for most of these I feel I am reviewing the paper and should therefore reproduce the image. Anybody got an alternative view on this? I already took the decision that I woudn’t refer to any papers that I couldn’t view from my desktop (if I restricted myself to open access I wouldn’t have had anything to write about) but would I be better off leaving the pictures out?


  • Perhaps you could write the authors for a non-copyright version of the figure, and make a note of that (and why you had to do it) in a footnote to your article?

  • Perhaps you could write the authors for a non-copyright version of the figure, and make a note of that (and why you had to do it) in a footnote to your article?

  • Bill, I should have done but wasn’t organised enough. What I will do if I can is put up a version of the review on OpenWetWare and get non-copyright versions of the images for that. I am hoping in the future to only publish in open access or at least open minded journals but this may prove difficult.

  • Bill, I should have done but wasn’t organised enough. What I will do if I can is put up a version of the review on OpenWetWare and get non-copyright versions of the images for that. I am hoping in the future to only publish in open access or at least open minded journals but this may prove difficult.

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