Basically, the story is that a PhD student blogger, Shelley Batts, wrote a blog posting about a much discussed recent article that claimed that antioxidants in berries are increased by alcohol (the "daiquiris are good for you" paper). As part of her blog entry, Shelly posted graphs and a table from the paper, as would seem reasonable fair use in discussion of the science. But Wiley Publishing didn't see it that way -- here's their take:
"The above article contains copyrighted material in the form of a table and graphs taken from a recently published paper in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. If these figures are not removed immediately, lawyers from John Wiley & Sons will contact you with further action."
The only good thing I see about this is that the news has gotten out about what unreasonable asses Wiley are being and hopefully people will think twice before submitting a paper to a Wiley published journal.
BTW, the Wiley E. Coyote image I'm using is supposedly fair use (it's from Wikipedia), but I'll let you know if Warner decides to threaten me over that.
UPDATE: At 1:02 pm, the legal threat against Shelly was retracted:
"There has been a misunderstanding with this issue, inadvertently caused by a junior staff member at our Society. Our official response is below: 'We apologise for any misunderstanding. In this situation the publisher would typically grant permission on request in order to ensure that figures and extracts are properly credited. We do not think there is any need to pursue this matter further.'"
Still, it is disturbing that the concept of "fair use" doesn't seem to be acknowledged in that response -- under fair use, there would be no need for any permission to be asked for in the first place.