12 April 2018Copyright

Publishers in uphill battle against host of 4m illicit articles

An academic file-sharing platform is allegedly hosting four million illicit articles despite attempts by publishers to make the site “copyright-compliant”, according to a progress update from a coalition of publishers.

The Coalition for Responsible Sharing, which represents 12 publishers and analytics businesses from around the world, shared its update on Monday, April 9.

Berlin-based ResearchGate is a file-sharing platform initially created with the aim of making research collaborations an easier and more efficient process. According to Science Mag, ResearchGate has raised $87 million from investors including Goldman Sachs and Bill Gates.

However, despite the publishers’ efforts to reach a “copyright-compliant resolution” with the file-sharing platform, the coalition’s update claimed that ResearchGate continues to host millions of copyrighted research articles and takes “no responsibility for this illicit activity”.

According to the update, the coalition was formed in October 2017 as other parties, including the STM International Association of Publishers, had been failing to reach an amicable solution with ResearchGate since 2015. The coalition’s members then began issuing takedown notices to the platform.

The coalition’s primary goal is to make the file-sharing site copyright-compliant.

Progress has been made since last year, though the Coalition said the problem “persists”: ResearchGate removed 1.4 million illicitly distributed articles published by members of the coalition in October last year.

For publishers outside of the coalition just 20% of their content illicitly was removed after takedown notices, the coalition said. It estimates that around four million illicit articles remain on ResearchGate and the number continues “to grow by the day”.

The coalition believes ResearchGate should vet papers before hosting them to ensure they can be shared. The platform reportedly prefers to host content that can later be removed, following a takedown notice.

In its update, the coalition said its members are issuing takedown notices as a short-term measure to address the growing volume of illicit content, but that a “true solution” to the problem is sought. Two members, Elsevier and ACS, are pursuing litigation against ResearchGate.

ResearchGate has been contacted by WIPR for comment.

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