As a leader in the global movement toward open access to publicly funded research, the University of California is taking a firm stand by deciding not to renew its subscriptions with Elsevier. Despite months of contract negotiations, Elsevier was unwilling to meet UC’s key goal: securing universal open access to UC research while containing the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals.In negotiating with Elsevier, UC aimed to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by ensuring that research produced by UC’s 10 campuses — which accounts for nearly 10 percent of all U.S. publishing output — would be immediately available to the world, without cost to the reader. Under Elsevier’s proposed terms, the publisher would have charged UC authors large publishing fees on top of the university’s multi-million dollar subscription, resulting in much greater cost to the university and much higher profits for Elsevier.
“As a well-known allegory says: ‘Imagine a farmer who owns, feeds and milks his cow in order to give away the milk for free to a dairy company – and then finally buys it back in a milk carton at a very high price’. This is the business model of big research publishers.”
Bahnhof has suffered a major defeat against publisher Elsevier after a court ordered the Swedish ISP to block a series of domain names, including Sci-Hub. The decision goes against everything the company stands for but it can’t ignore the blocking order. Instead, the ISP has gone on the offensive by blocking Elsevier’s own website and barring the court from visiting Bahnhof.se.
Sci-Hub, often referred to as the “Pirate Bay of Science,” remains a thorn in the side of academic publishers. After obtaining an injunction against the site last year, the American Chemical Society went back to court for an update, which now gives it the authority to seize newly registered domain names as well. But will that end the domain whac-a-mole?
On August 30, 2016, the Patent Office issued U.S. Patent No. 9,430,468, titled; “Online peer review and method.” The owner of this patent is none other than Elsevier, the giant academic publisher. When it first applied for the patent, Elsevier sought very broad claims that could have covered a wide range of online peer review. Fortunately, by the time the patent actually issued, its claims had been narrowed significantly. So, as a practical matter, the patent will be difficult to enforce. But we still think the patent is stupid, invalid, and an indictment of the system.
Oh, Elsevier. The publishing giant has quite the reputation for its desire to stop people from sharing knowledge unless Elsevier can put up a toll booth. A huge number of academics have signed pledges to boycott Elsevier and not allow their works to be published by the company. Also, in the last few years, there’s been a rapid growth in open access and requirements that research be distributed for free (often under a Creative Commons license).
Almost exactly a year ago, we had a story about Elsevier charging for open access content, and apparently the company hasn’t gotten any better. Ross Mounce recently noticed that Elsevier appeared to be selling a paper on HIV infection for $31.50 + tax (after which you have just 24 hours to download it, or just kiss that money goodbye)
The problem, however, is that the paper was actually published by competing publisher Wiley under an open access Creative Commons license (and is available free of charge on its website). The key author on the paper, Didier Raolt told Mounce that he had no idea why Elsevier was selling his paper, and that he had not given permission. The paper is under a Creative Commons license, but it’s a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. And while I’m not a fan of NC/ND licenses, it’s pretty clear that this license does not allow someone to step in and start selling the paper.