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….”