ResearchGate must take down Elsevier articles, court rules – Research Professional News

“Munich chamber decides that online networking platform is responsible

for content uploaded by users

A chamber of the Munich Regional Court has ruled that the research
networking sitResearchGate
has to take down articles uploaded without consent from their original

A case was brought forward in 2017 by the Coalition for Responsible
Sharing, a group of publishers that includes Elsevier and the American
Chemical Society. Members of the coalition had sent more than 500,000
takedown notices to ResearchGate in order to remove articles from
paid-for journals that had been uploaded and made available for free
by users of the platform, according to a statement….”

Blog – Europe PMC: Transparency for preprints: handling withdrawals and removals

“Part of the appeal of preprints is the ability to post new versions, allowing researchers to continuously improve their manuscript and correct it if needed. However, in some cases the data or its interpretation presented in the preprint may be proven incorrect with time. In such cases the authors may wish to withdraw or remove the preprint, rather than posting another version. There could also be instances where preprints are removed for legal reasons, due to authorship disputes, or even as a result of erroneous posting. 

Currently, there are several different ways in which preprint platforms handle such scenarios. In the case of a withdrawal the preprint itself is often still accessible, but it is supplemented with a new version containing a withdrawal notice, which explains that the preprint should not be considered part of the scientific record. This is akin to retractions for peer reviewed journal articles. On the other hand, in the case of a removal all preprint versions are removed and the content is no longer accessible, in some cases with a removal notice replacing the preprint itself. You can see the list of different withdrawal/removal policies in the ASAPbio Preprint Server Directory.

For an archive, such as Europe PMC, it is crucial to follow best practices for handling preprint metadata to enable transparency and build trust in preprints. As a proof-of-concept we now provide a way to search and display withdrawn and removed preprints with appropriate labels for the COVID-19 full text preprint subset. We identify preprint withdrawal or removal notices based on document length (notices are often just a single sentence long) using the Europe PMC plus submission system. Those records are then flagged, manually checked and tagged with the appropriate withdrawal or removal article-type [Hamelers A, Parkin M. A full text collection of COVID-19 preprints in Europe PMC using JATS XML]….”

Senate Explores Changing DMCA

“A Senate committee is investigating updating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The goal is to modernize the DMCA to make it easier to protect copyrighted content while also defending fair use rights. The Internet Archive responded to a call for feedback by encouraging the committee to keep things as they are….

What Thom Tillis wants to do is streamline the takedown process and make it into a staydown system, where a copyright holder only needs to notify an Online Service Provider (OSP) once about infringing material….

The Internet Archive argued that a staydown approach would be unworkable for five reasons:

1. By making content removal automatic in a staydown approach, it removes the human element from judging whether something is indeed fair use or a copyright infringement. They argue that manual inspection cannot be scaled, meaning that the burden should remain on the copyright holder to identify violations….”



US: Archivists’ Victory over Overbroad Copyright Claim | Human Rights Watch

“A decision by GitHub, a leading software development platform, to reinstate a popular free software tool for downloading videos, means that human rights groups will be able to continue to use the software without interruption to preserve documentation of human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch, Mnemonic, and WITNESS said today. GitHub had removed the code for the software, youtube-dl, from its platform in response to a request by the Recording Industry Association of America Inc (RIAA)….”


“With the growth of open access scholarly communications, libraries increasingly host online institutional repositories where academic authors can post papers, articles, and theses.13 The section 512(c) safe harbor shelters libraries from liability for infringing material that may be contained in the materials posted by third parties. Elsevier, for example, sent thousands of takedown notices to websites hosted by Harvard University, University of California, Irvine and, a social networking site for academics. The articles targeted by these Elsevier notices typically had been posted by their authors, who may have transferred their copyright to Elsevier in the publication agreements. The publication agreements often allow authors to post their final, peer-reviewed manuscript of the articles, but not the final published version, i.e., as formatted by the publisher. Elsevier asserted that it pursued only final versions of published journal articles posted without their authorization. The section 512(c) safe harbor provided a mechanism for libraries to avoid getting caught in the middle of a dispute between the authors and their publishers….”

Opportunity: Lumen Employee Fellow | Berkman Klein Center

“The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University seeks an extraordinary full-time, salaried employee fellow to join the Center’s Lumen project.  The fellowship provides the opportunity to develop substantive and scholarly work on the global takedown and intermediary liability landscape, especially as it relates to the major challenges of the current moment.

Lumen is a research project collecting and studying requests and demands of all kinds –both legitimate and questionable– to remove material from online, including copyright takedown notices, government requests and court orders.  The project’s goals are to encourage and facilitate both research and transparency about the different kinds of complaints and requests for removal that are being sent to Internet publishers and service providers, and to provide as much information as possible about such notices — of which Lumen’s database contains over twelve million, referencing the removal of approximately 4.5 billion URLs —  in terms of who is sending them and why, and to what effect.”

Section 512: University and Research Libraries as Rightsholders | Authors Alliance

“In most cases and for most of the published research Duke produces, we aim to disseminate these works with no direct financial return; no royalty. If possible, our authors generally want no financial barrier to stand in the way of engagement with their research, operating under the idea that more and faster progress will be made without those barriers. In many cases, we find ourselves licensing around the controls that copyright law automatically provides. For example, more than ten years ago, Duke Faculty voted to adopt an institutional open access policy that provides for free, widespread distribution of research articles that Duke faculty have authored….

Given our interest in widespread dissemination of ideas, for research and academic work our strong preference is a system that is biased toward keeping content up online unless there is strong evidence that an infringement has occurred. The current notice and takedown system does not always accomplish this goal….

First, for some academic works, the ownership of rights is far from clear. Although authors are the holders of those rights initially, they are often asked to license them away at least in part through publishing contracts that are confusing and vary significantly from journal to journal and which can change with some frequency. As a result, some academic authors are unsure of whether they are legally permitted to share their own work online under the terms of their publishing agreement. Many research articles are also subject to pre-existing licenses that attach automatically upon creation—for example, at Duke under our Open Access policy—which provide that authors and their institutions retain certain rights to share and reuse their work. My experience with takedown requests we receive at Duke is that publishers do not take into account pre-existing open access licenses even though their existence is widely known….

Second, and perhaps the most important thing I can convey, is how important fair use is for research, teaching, and for libraries that support those functions….

Section 512 does not explicitly address how fair use factors into the notice and takedown process….[I]n practice we know that in many instances automated content identification systems are the first method of assessment, and they do not handle fair use assertions well….”

Copyright Compliance by ResearchGate Is the Only Viable Long-Term Solution — Coalition for Responsible Sharing

“The members of the Coalition for Responsible Sharing have always been clear that we embrace and actively encourage copyright compliant sharing of content by the research community. However, the commercial science platform ResearchGate continues to provide access to millions of research articles on its site without publisher’s permission in contravention of copyright agreements and does not take any appropriate measures to stop this illicit activity.

On Wednesday, May 6, 2020, Wiley announced that it will explore other possibilities to minimize the availability of copyright infringing articles on ResearchGate and made the decision to enter into an agreement with ResearchGate. [Hence, Wiley has dropped out of CFRS].

“We appreciate the support Wiley has put into the Coalition for Responsible Sharing over such a long time,” says James Milne, PhD, chair of the Coalition for Responsible Sharing and president, ACS Publications. “Members of the Coalition for Responsible Sharing continue to believe the illicit posting and subsequent removal of infringing content on ResearchGate’s site is unsustainable and disruptive for the research community. Copyright-infringing content should not be made available on ResearchGate’s site at any time.”

To date, cooperation agreements proposed by ResearchGate do not address the Coalition for Responsible Sharing’s concerns. New copyright-infringing articles are constantly being added to the site, in addition to the millions of copyright-infringing articles it already illicitly distributes. An average of 130,000 articles have continued to be added to ResearchGate each month, approximately 45 percent of which infringe copyright. To date, Coalition for Responsible Sharing members have sent nearly 450,000 takedown notices to ResearchGate for copyright infringing content it distributes….”

Illuminating the Flows – and Redactions – of Content Online | Berkman Klein Center

“The staff of Lumen, a unique public resource at Harvard University collecting and studying millions of removal requests for online content, is thrilled to announce that the project has received a $1.5 million grant from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, to expand and improve its database and research efforts.

From well-publicized takedowns from foreign governments, political campaigns and celebrities to more obscure requests from private entities and individuals, modern online platforms and search engines must regularly respond to requests and demands to remove content and links. Lumen provides a way for the public and its representatives – including academic researchers, journalists, and other stakeholders – to understand trends in demands for content removal and their outcomes in ways that balance public disclosure and privacy rights and serve the greater public interest….”

Petition · Right to share publications ·

“As scientists and scholars, we create the intellectual content that appears in APA [American Psychological Association] Journals. We conduct the research, write the papers and review the work at no cost to your journals. We also edit your journals for minimal income. This makes the academic publication system incredibly profitable for publishers.

It deeply concerns us that APA uses these profits to pay staff to threaten us to remove these products of our free labor from our academic websites, where other academics can read and build on our work. 

We engage in practices like voluntary reviewing for APA because we feel a commitment to producing a public good that others can use to promote scientific progress. By using these profits to restrict us from sharing our own work, you have privatized a public good and made our relationship transactional. Of course, it is entirely within your rights to do so.

If you wish to make this relationship transactional, we demand that you use the profits from our work to pay us for reviewing. If we learn that you have pressured any of the signees to remove their own APA publications from their academic website, then all signees will demand that you pay us $300 per review (unless otherwise agreed upon in writing). 

In short, you have a simple choice: You continue to accept our free labor and allow us to share the products of our labor on our academic websites OR we move to a transactional relationship and you pay us for our reviewing and we use that money to pay for open access rights for our papers (or any other purpose we deem relevant).”

What happened when a professor was accused of sharing his own work on his website

“Like many academics, William Cunningham, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, shares his own articles — published and soon-to-be — on his website. And like most academics, he does so in the interest of science, not personal profit.

So Cunningham and hundreds of his colleagues were recently irked by a takedown notice he received from the American Psychological Association, telling him that the articles he had published through the organization and then posted on his website were in violation of copyright law. The notice triggered a chain of responses — including a warning from his website platform, WordPress, that multiple such violations put the future of his entire website at risk. And because the APA had previously issued similar takedown notices, the threat of losing his website seemed real to Cunningham.

In response, psychologists started a petition to the APA, saying that if it didn’t stop policing authors’ personal websites for the sharing of science, then it needed to pay peer reviewers $300 for each article review….”

The Internet’s Own Instigator

“For the past 25 years or so, Carl Malamud’s lonely mission has been to seize on the internet’s potential for spreading information — public information that people have a right to see, hear, and read….

Indeed, Malamud has had remarkable success and true impact. If you have accessed EDGAR, the free Securities and Exchange Commission database of corporate information, you owe a debt to Malamud. Same with the database of patents, or the opinions of the US Court of Appeals. Without Malamud, the contents of the Federal Register might still cost $1,700 instead of nothing. If you have listened to a podcast, note that it was Carl Malamud who pioneered the idea of radio-like content on internet audio — in 1993. And so on. As much as any human being on the planet, this unassuming-looking proprietor of a one-man nonprofit — a bald, diminutive, bespectacled 57-year-old — has understood and exploited the net (and the power of the printed word, as well) for disseminating information for the public good….”

Is Elsevier really for-science? Or just for-profit? – Scientific American Blog Network

“While Elsevier was completely within its rights to issue the take down notices, the end result is the view that Elsevier is not on the side of science, but merely of profit. There is room in the publishing landscape for non-profit and for-profit publishers, but those pursuing profits need to make sure that the pursuit of profit does not stifle scientific work. Otherwise those companies may see researchers turning to universities, libraries and non-profit organizations that prioritize the dissemination of scientific information.”

Publishers threaten to remove millions of papers from ResearchGate : Nature News & Comment

“Millions of articles might soon disappear from ResearchGate, the world’s largest scholarly social network. Last week, five publishers said they had formed a coalition that would start ordering ResearchGate to remove research articles from its site because they breach publishers’ copyright. A spokesperson for the group said that up to 7 million papers could be affected, and that a first batch of take-down notices, for around 100,000 articles, would be sent out “imminently”. 

Meanwhile, coalition members Elsevier and the American Chemical Society have filed a lawsuit to try to prevent copyrighted material appearing on ResearchGate in future. The complaint, which has not been made public, was filed on 6 October in a regional court in Germany. (ResearchGate is based in Berlin). It makes a “symbolic request for damages” but its goal is to change the site’s behaviour, a spokesperson says….”

Publishers accuse ResearchGate of mass copyright infringement

“ResearchGate, a popular for-profit academic social network that makes it easy to find and download research papers, is facing increasing pressure from publishers to change the way it operates.

On Tuesday, the American Chemical Society and Elsevier, two large academic publishers, launched a second legal battle against the Berlin-based social networking site — this time not in Europe, but in the U.S.

The publishers accuse ResearchGate of “massive infringement of peer-reviewed, published journal articles.” They say that the networking site is illegally obtaining and distributing research papers protected by copyright law. They also suggest that the site is deliberately tricking researchers into uploading protected content. A spokesperson for ResearchGate declined to comment on the accusations.

The court documents, obtained by Inside Higher Ed from the U.S. District Court in Maryland, include an “illustrative” but “not exhaustive list” of 3,143 research articles the publishers say were shared by ResearchGate in breach of copyright protections. The publishers suggest they could be entitled to up to $150,000 for each infringed work — a possible total of more than $470 million….”