The infamous infraction didn't even occur at an American Chemical Society meeting. Last summer, data presented by a group of physicists at a workshop in Sweden surfaced in an article authored by other scientists, who had attended the conference, photographed data slides and rushed to publish the findings even before the researchers did.
ACS has long banned photography in sessions, but at its past two national meetings, planners fielded an increasing number of complaints about unauthorized snapshots of presentations. So this March, at a meeting in Salt Lake City, ACS ramped up enforcement of the policy, posting signs about the ban at the door of each session room. For the first time, ACS threatened to confiscate cameras or cell phones if violations were observed.
Willie Benjamin, assistant director of meetings and exhibitions services for ACS, says the efforts paid off. "We have not had any program chairs communicate to us that pictures were being taken in their sessions," he says. One fear held by some scientists is that endemic unauthorized photography could affect what speakers choose to share at conferences, which could compromise the quality of education at events. Benjamin doesn't think the issue will get to that point. "We will continue doing everything we can do to prevent all this from happening," he says.
However, a casual web search proves that not all heeded the photo ban; a few innocuous-seeming photos of presentations at the Salt Lake meeting did end up on Flickr.