9 October 2018

ACS and Elsevier sue website over scientific journals, again

The American Chemical Society ( ACS) and Amsterdam-based analytics company Elsevier have filed a copyright infringement complaint against ResearchGate, a professional network, over providing free access to published articles.

The claim was filed at the US District Court for the District of Maryland on Tuesday, October 2.

ResearchGate is a social networking site which allows scientists and researchers to access articles. According to the claim, ResearchGate takes scientific articles that have been written and published by others on different sites and makes them freely available.

The Coalition for Responsible Sharing, of which the ACS and Elsevier are both members, estimated that there are four million copyright-protected articles that are being infringed via ResearchGate’s freely-available website.

In a press release, the coalition said that ResearchGate’s business model depends on the distribution of these copyright-protected articles to generate traffic to its site.

The claim also accused ResearchGate of designing its website as a “hub for obtaining infringing copies” of published journal articles (PJAs).

“Even more directly, ResearchGate solicits specific authors to upload copies of specific PJAs that ResearchGate knows are published in journals whose terms do not allow such posting,” alleged the complaint.

ACS and Elsevier are asking for an injunction, for ResearchGate to delete unauthorised copies of work owned by the organisations, and damages.

James Milne, spokesperson for the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, said that the organisation has unsuccessfully proposed solutions to ResearchGate.

“We have not taken this legal step lightly, but unfortunately so far ResearchGate has refused all collaborative efforts we have put forth from our side; we see no other option but to take this route,” he said.

“Our ultimate goal is to find a long-term, viable solution with ResearchGate.”

The Coalition for Responsible Sharing has previously cited a 2017 study that claimed that over half of the non-open access content on ResearchGate infringed copyright-protected work.

In October 2017, the coalition said that ResearchGate had removed a “significant” portion of material that infringed copyright-protected work. However, that same month, members of the coalition issued takedown notices to ResearchGate to address copyright-infringing work that had not been removed.

Also in October 2017, ACS and Elsevier filed a copyright infringement claim against ResearchGate at the Munich Regional Court in Germany which is still ongoing.

Then, as reported on TBO’s sister site WIPR in April, the coalition attempted to reach a “copyright-compliant resolution” with ResearchGate.

However, an update from the Coalition for Responsible Sharing published at the time said that ResearchGate continued to host millions of copyright-protected research articles and has taken “no responsibility for this illicit activity”.

TBO has reached out to ResearchGate for comment.

This story was  first published on TBO.

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