We have consulted with copyright counsel. We believe that
the quotations from the news story "Trends in
Nanotechnology: Waiting for Breakthroughs" (April
1996) fall within the safe harbor of fair use principles
stated in Section 107 of the Copyright Act. We do not
believe we have any obligation, under either Section 107
or the First Amendment, to cease to use these quotations
in an effort to set the record straight and to defend our
organization's work. For information on fair use, see
these Web pages:
With that said, we appreciate your offer that your space
on America Online can be used for public discourse on
this topic; however, most scientists and technologists
use the Internet rather than this proprietary service.
(For example, the number of postings on the SciAm AOL
site indicate that even the most controversial topics
have evoked fewer responses in a period of months or
years than the Foresight Web site has received in a few
days.) Accordingly, the discussion appears to be taking
place primarily in the Internet newsgroup sci.nanotech.
Customers of commercial services such as AOL are welcome
to participate in sci.nanotech.
Your suggestion that letters to the editor are a good way
to respond is being pursued by a number of people. Please
for a selection of letters. Some letters have been
stimulated by the facilitated email feature at the end of
our Web page containing Dr. Merkle's rebuttal to the news
story. These were sent to the email address
firstname.lastname@example.org, which is different from the one
recommended in your email.
Gary Stix, the writer of the news story, offered to
support the publication of a letter on this topic --
including the URL of Dr. Merkle's response -- in the
paper version of your magazine. We recommended the letter
sent by Eric Drexler, who is discussed at length in the
news story. Dr. Drexler's letter is only a few lines
long, giving the URL for our longer response on the Web,
since so many points demand a response that even a
substantially longer letter would have been inadequate.
In addition to Dr. Drexler's letter, we urge that the letter sent by Carl
Feynman, the son of Richard Feynman, also be
published in the paper version of your magazine, since it
explains the manner in which Richard Feynman's name is
misused in the story. Publication of these two letters
would be a significant step toward setting the record
straight regarding scientific assessments of
nanotechnology. We believe that both merit publication in
the paper version of the magazine, regardless of what may
also be published at the SciAm Web site.
The rebuttal written by Dr. Merkle and published by
Foresight can be considered an open letter to the editor.
While it is too long for the Letters section of your
paper magazine, it could easily be included in the Web
version. To address your concerns regarding copyright and
the availability of quotations from your magazine at our
Web site, we suggest that Dr. Merkle's rebuttal, in its
present point/counterpoint format, be posted as a Letter
to the Editor on your Web site, making it unnecessary for
our site to carry it. If Dr. Merkle's rebuttal is posted
on your Web site, then we will delete it from our site.
If space limitations or other concerns ever require that
you delete it from your site, we could then archive it
for you at our site, at no charge, as a service to the
Another possibility, although somewhat more cumbersome
from the readers' point of view, would be to publish the
original news story at your new Web site, being sure to
include an "anchor" at the beginning of each
paragraph. This would enable Dr. Merkle to make his
point-by-point rebuttal without having to use direct
quotations. However, this would require readers to switch
from our site to yours as they read; publishing the
entire piece in the Letters section would be a more
We welcome Scientific American to the Web community.
Having Dr. Merkle's rebuttal included in your Web site as
it debuts next month would emphasize to the online
community that your magazine intends to bring to the Web
its traditional strength in promoting critical discussion
of science issues.
In conclusion, we are interested in working with you to
address your concerns regarding copyright. However, as we
hope you will appreciate, it is vital for a non-profit
organization such as ours to foster discussion to advance
understanding of scientific and technical issues in
nanotechnology. Because the Foresight Institute's and
Scientific American's general aims are and should be the
same, we wish to work with you so that all parties issues
and concerns are addressed. Please do not hesitate to
contact us to discuss this matter further.