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259 comments

Breach of contract, copyright infringement (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45621859)

I agree that sharing these papers online is the right thing to do, but then maybe they shouldn't sign a contract giving up the right to do it?

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (5, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#45622025)

You can't possibly infringe on copyright by sharing your own work. (At least not where I live. People in some countries may be fucked, though.)

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (5, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 months ago | (#45622071)

Many of these journals require copyright assignment, at which point it's not your own work anymore. Just one more reason the traditional scientific publishing model needs to die a quick death.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 months ago | (#45622093)

I've said this before and I will say it again... corporations should be legally prohibited from owning copyrights. They should be legally limited to leasing copyrights from real persons. Copyrights were meant to make MORE material open, not to lock up material so that a corporate entity and gather rents without end.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (2)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 5 months ago | (#45622185)

Ok, so who would a company that designs and builds things (software companies, architectural firms, mechanical design companies, etc) "lease" the copyright from...?

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (5, Interesting)

mspohr (589790) | about 5 months ago | (#45622401)

The people who actually did the work and wrote the manual or designed the project.
Corporations are not people. Corporations cannot create any "works". People create works. People should own their creations.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622541)

Corporations pretty much are equivalent to people under US law. They have many of the same rights including the right to donate to politicians....

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622677)

Ok, so who would a company that designs and builds things (software companies, architectural firms, mechanical design companies, etc) "lease" the copyright from...?

To quote the post of MickyTheIdiot that you responded to [slashdot.org] , "they should be legally limited to leasing copyrights from real persons."

If the point of your post was to demonstrate your lack of reading skills, you've succeeded. If your post has some other point, I'm afraid you're going to have to explain it.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (3, Insightful)

Aaden42 (198257) | about 5 months ago | (#45622205)

Leasing doesn’t fix this problem. There’s no reason Slimy Pub Corp, Inc. can’t require authors to sign an exclusive 100 year agreement to lease the copyright only to them, their successors, and assigns. Perfectly valid under (US at least) contract law, and still gives the same end result where authors can no longer self-publish or otherwise distribute their own work. They still “own” the copyright, but they’ve contracted away their rights to do anything with it.

I don’t know enough about the academic publishing situation to know why authors would agree to sign away self publishing rights, but presumably there’s some value to using Elsevier’s services, even if the “value” is only in the sense that authors are required to do it in order to be “published” and advance their careers.

Requiring copyright ownership tied to the lifetime of a single real person would help against the destruction of the public domain (Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, and Disney’s perpetual ownership of what’s become intwined in common US culture), but it doesn’t prevent copyright owners from being compelled to sign away their rights in situations such as this one.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 5 months ago | (#45622431)

You could have the copyright law state that you always have a right to your own work. You can give or rent or lease it to others to use but you would always have a right to the work and you couldn't prevent the author from having the right to copy the work.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (4, Informative)

davecb (6526) | about 5 months ago | (#45622629)

In countries like Canada, authors have "moral rights" under copyright law, specifically including the right to be be named as the author of a work, even if it is paid for by another. These cannot be waived, and in some specific cases can only be assigned.

One might declare a non-assignable moral right to make available one's work, including for purposes of showing a "portfolio" of one's work, or making scholarly works available to other scholars.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622521)

You could have it written in the law that the original holder can nullify said agreement at will if it is beyond, say, 5 years.
That seems to fix everything I think. Can't see much of it being used for wrong. Admittedly I only spent 12 seconds thinking about possible scenarios.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 5 months ago | (#45622275)

You people think copyrights only job is to make material open? Your so very very wrong because that is the built in side affect. Its main job is to protect the authors.original builders,thinkers Who Create.Thing is, they are free to sell,give away their copyright to the highest bidder. Justice in the USA can only be had by those who can afford it Everyone else gets the scraps.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (1)

lgw (121541) | about 5 months ago | (#45622441)

I'm OK with corporations owning "work for hire" work - if you do the work as an employee, IMO it's OK for the employer to own the copywrite. It would be vastly harder to get a job otherwise. If you want to ban anyone ("corporations" is a distraction) from acquiring copyright from an individual (not work for hire), I'd be OK with that, but I'm not sure what the difference between "copyright" and "exclusive distribution license" would be in practice.

But it's just nuts that that applies in any way to academia.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 months ago | (#45622687)

Everyone should be legally prohibited from owning copyrights. As in copyright should be abolished entirely. If I own an item, it's my right to do with it what I see fit. Use as intended, destroy, reverse engineer, or copy.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#45622329)

Many of these journals require copyright assignment, at which point it's not your own work anymore.

I think this is exactly the situation for which the "void where prohibited by law" phrase was invented.

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (5, Informative)

the_povinator (936048) | about 5 months ago | (#45622313)

I had this problem, nearly a year ago, and as a result had to move my website from pages.google.com to my self-hosted website at www.danielpovey.com (I explain the situation there).

What happened is I made available online a preprint of a paper that I had submitted to an Elsevier journal... this is explicitly allowed by the terms you agree to (the preprint is the draft version that you submit to the journal, before the reviewers suggest changes). Anyway, Elsevier's people submitted a DMCA request to Google, even though what I was doing was 100% allowed, and this caused Google to take down my whole homepage. Google restored my website about a week later, after I submitted a counter-notification or whatever they call it, but by that time I'd decided to move to self-hosting.

So yes, fuck Elsevier.

Dan

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 5 months ago | (#45622537)

So yes, fuck Elsevier.

You are too kind. They might possibly enjoy it.
Instead, ream them with commensurate consideration: insert baseball bat in glue, then in broken glass, then in ...

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 months ago | (#45622553)

Yeah, but it's nice to have your cake and eat it too. Researchers need to publish in the highest impact journal they can, that's unfortuantely still elsevier in many cases. And Elsevier doesn't give you the option to publish WITHOUT signing all your rights away.

So you're right, but I'm still blaming elsevier for doing a bit of arm twisting. Unnecessary arm-twisting at that. Universities are still going to pay elsevier for subscriptions to their journals. They're not going to say "Researchers often put their papers on their webpages, so we don't need to pay a subscription."

Re:Breach of contract, copyright infringement (1)

davecb (6526) | about 5 months ago | (#45622653)

Universities in at least Canada are starting to push back against "copyright collectives", and have similar concerns about scholarly publishers.

wait (1)

hamburger lady (218108) | about 5 months ago | (#45621869)

the authors are trying to do what now? it isn't clear at all.

Re: wait (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45621885)

Breach their contract and act surprised when they get caught. But information wants to be free or something.

Re: wait (3, Interesting)

robot256 (1635039) | about 5 months ago | (#45621939)

The news here is that Elsevier has given up their unspoken tradition of non-enforcement when researchers share their own papers. It isn't clear here whether the papers in question were the pre- or post-editing versions; typically the former were considered fair game. Now that the contract is being interpreted more broadly than it had been (no matter what their actual rights were originally), it becomes even more onerous for would-be customers.

Re: wait (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 months ago | (#45622393)

I wonder if this is really aimed at academia.edu rather than the authors. As far as I can tell, Elsevier hasn't (yet, at least) gone after academics posting their own papers on their own website in the traditional manner, i.e. as a PDF at www.university.edu/~jsmith/papers/smith2013bigresult.pdf.

Re: wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622395)

As someone who has quite a few papers with Elsevier, I understand this more than most. Honestly, I don't give a damn what the policy is, as long as it is somewhat fairly enforced -- academics is a competitive world.

The people that act all hurt that all research isn't spoon-fed to them for free annoy the hell out of me. Frankly, I know of nobody that uses academia.edu, and 90% of the time if you email the person and say "can I have a copy of your paper?", you'll get one... this is just going after people that post their pdfs online, which frankly is convenient, but not important.

Re: wait (4, Informative)

teslar (706653) | about 5 months ago | (#45622483)

It isn't clear here whether the papers in question were the pre- or post-editing versions

They are going after the final, published versions (including Elsevier formatting and all), commercial use of accepted manuscripts, systematic distribution and the like (some of which applies to academia.edu). In other words, what you said was fair game still is - you are allowed to share the accepted manuscript with others (including on your website where Google Scholar will pick it up and render it discoverable in a matter of days, so it's not like this restricts you), you (or anyone else) just can't make money off it and you can't use their typesetting.

For the accepted manuscript version, let me just quote from Elsevier's author rights [elsevier.com] :

Elsevier believes that individual authors should be able to distribute their AAMs for their personal voluntary needs and interests, e.g. posting to their websites or their institutionâ(TM)s repository, e-mailing to colleagues. However, our policies differ regarding the systematic aggregation or distribution of AAMs to ensure the sustainability of the journals to which AAMs are submitted. Therefore, deposit in, or posting to, subject-oriented or centralized repositories (such as PubMed Central), or institutional repositories with systematic posting mandates is permitted only under specific agreements between Elsevier and the repository, agency or institution, and only consistent with the publisherâ(TM)s policies concerning such repositories. Voluntary posting of AAMs in the arXiv subject repository is permitted.

So you can see how academia.edu falls foul of this while your right to share your work does not.

(Some of my papers are published in Elsevier journals - they are however also all open access. In case you're wondering.)

Re: wait (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622621)

(including Elsevier formatting and all),

You know, you can download the LaTeX template and put anything you want in Elsevier format? It's not like it's a royal seal.

Re: wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622037)

Yeah, that's what it's sounding like. I mean, if it were Elsevier trying to muscle in on authors who aren't under contract to them and making mafia-esque "nice paper you've got there, shame if something were to happen to it" threats, sure, that'd be horrible. But this sounds like the authors made contracts with Elsevier, part of those contracts said NOT to undermine Elsevier's business partly in exchange for getting paid, and the authors violated said contract. Advantage: Elsevier.

And what's this with "Elsevier, in final desperation mode"? Are they going out of business? Or is this wishful thinking on the submitter's part? Because last I knew, they were still a major power in the whole academic paper racket. This is sounding to me the same as if I heard "Apple, in final desperation mode, refused to service MacBooks with Linux installed on them".

Re: wait (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 months ago | (#45622191)

I agree and disagree. Agree that the contracts should be better, but disagree from the aspect that these type of contracts come from the unspoken assumption that they are agreements between equals. It's not. Most contracts between individuals and corporate entities right now are very unequal. Individuals have to sign the contract or they are screwed and corporate entities take huge advantage of that. In this case at least the researcher has some power to take the paper someplace else, but I'm sure that varies based on the field a researcher is in and how high profile the researcher is. Corporations are high concentrations of power, and the idea that contracts are signed by absolute free will as an agreement among equals is laughable.

Re: wait (3, Informative)

crunchygranola (1954152) | about 5 months ago | (#45622549)

...But this sounds like the authors made contracts with Elsevier, part of those contracts said NOT to undermine Elsevier's business partly in exchange for getting paid, and the authors violated said contract ....

Evidently you are unaware that Elsevier pays authors nothing for their papers! Instead, there may be page fees the author must pay to get the article published (depending on journal).

Pay nothing for the research. Pay nothing to the author. And yet, the believe they can/should own the results of the research, not just the final edited, published paper.

Sounds a bit mafia (or more precisely MAFIAA) practices.

Re:wait (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45621955)

Short explanation:

When a paper writer contributes a document to be published by Elsevier, they sign away their own rights to the document to allow them to be published.

Most of the people that write these documents also post these documents on their own websites anyway.

In this situation, Elsevier sent a take-down notice to Academia.edu who was hosting one of these documents (that he'd posted on Academia.edu). Academia.edu sent him a letter basically saying that they felt that this was a terrible thing to do, but they had no choice.

Re:wait (1)

hamburger lady (218108) | about 5 months ago | (#45622075)

so they're sharing their own papers. well, why didn't the story mention that?

Re:wait (1)

Aaden42 (198257) | about 5 months ago | (#45622259)

Because contractually, it’s largely irrelevant. They may be the author of the paper, but if they’ve signed a contract pledging to not publish the papers and they’re doing it anyway, they’re in breach of contract.

No idea what’s in the contracts in question, but sending a C&D might actually be the polite thing for Elsevier to be doing. If the contract has any penalty or breach clauses, Elsevier might be entitled to damages, withheld payments, etc. against authors who violate their contract.

Re:wait (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622341)

Withheld payments? Hilarious. That would require these contracts to actually pay the authors...

GOOD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45621873)

Let the SOPA supporting scumbag organization die a quick death. It could not have been sooner.

Too desperate to get published (3, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 5 months ago | (#45621897)

Why do these researchers transfer ALL copyrights, instead of just giving a non-exclusive copyright?

Why not just put it on their institutional web server, and submit the link to google? I never
saw a university that didn't make such a web server available to Faculty and even Students.

A boycott can't come soon enough.

Re:Too desperate to get published (5, Informative)

wuerz (314474) | about 5 months ago | (#45622013)

Publish or perish. As an academic your worth is measured (among other things) by the number of publications. In an effort to keep up the stream of publications out of one's lab, people agree to anything the publishers demand.

Of course one could also negotiate less onerous terms, but that is hard when the publisher prints my paper with absolutely no (publishing-related) cost to me.

they've got it backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622069)

What is an academic journal without any papers? Academics should have Elsevier over the barrel begging for some lube but its the other way around?

Re:they've got it backwards (4, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 months ago | (#45622603)

Well, that's kind of the issue. Academics are already boycotting Elsevier. Thing is, academics are focused on research, not on publishing, so many aren't even aware of the boycott, others care less about their rights to host their own papers than they do in publishing in the highest impact journal they can. Plus, few papers are published with a single author. On my paper, I suggested we not submit there. My boss stifled a laugh. It's published with Elsevier. I occasionally get requests for it from researchers who don't have access to that journal. I guess I'm going to have to start worrying that they are undercover Elsevier agents.

Re:Too desperate to get published (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#45622623)

Of course one could also negotiate less onerous terms, but that is hard when the publisher prints my paper with absolutely no (publishing-related) cost to me.

Sounds to me like there very much is a cost - you have to surrender the copyright to your work.

Remember, just because money never changes hands doesn't mean it didn't cost you anything.

Re:Too desperate to get published (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622043)

Why do these researchers transfer ALL copyrights, instead of just giving a non-exclusive copyright?

Because it costs $1500. I just published a paper with Elsevier and they extened their offer to publish my paper as open access.

That said, the copyright that I transfered is not that bad. I can publish a prepublication version on my personal website (that is, without the journal formatting), as well as preprint versions on the arXiv. I need to put the information on where the paper was published, which seems fair enough. Anyone looking for it can find it.

Re:Too desperate to get published (1)

Lurks (526137) | about 5 months ago | (#45622717)

"Because it costs $1500"

This should not have been down voted. It's an honest and informative post about the reality of publishing with Elsevier.

Re:Too desperate to get published (4, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 months ago | (#45622067)

Why do these researchers transfer ALL copyrights, instead of just giving a non-exclusive copyright?

Because those are the terms of the journal. Don't transfer all the copyrights, don't get published.

Why not just put it on their institutional web server, and submit the link to google? I never saw a university that didn't make such a web server available to Faculty and even Students.

Because that doesn't count. Research has to be published in a peer-reviewed journal (or at a peer-reviewed conference) or it doesn't exist. You don't get credit for it, it never gets cited or used by other research, it doesn't become part of the literature.

Re:Too desperate to get published (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622073)

Why do these researchers transfer ALL copyrights, instead of just giving a non-exclusive copyright?

Why not just put it on their institutional web server, and submit the link to google? I never
saw a university that didn't make such a web server available to Faculty and even Students.

A boycott can't come soon enough.

Publishing isn't just the act of getting your paper out there in research. It's the act of a review committee determining that your paper is of high enough quality to be presented through their Journal. The Journals are more or less ranked in prestige, which is related to how difficult it is to get your paper published in that Journal.

So academic publishing is part review service, and part information distribution. The way the review service has been funded in the past is that they charge quite a bit to obtain the Journal's distribution. Libraries typically fund this directly, or occasionally the individual or laboratory. A yearly subscription to a key journal might cost more than a thousand dollars.

As such, researchers are asked to give away publishing rights; otherwise, the journal could be undercut from it's revenue stream quite easily, via self-publishing or second-source publishing. This would lead to validation in the prestigious publication, and no funding going to that publication due to everyone buying access to the paper through other markets.

Typically an author knows this, and there is an informal means of working around this in academia when a person who can't reasonably afford the journal needs a copy of the paper. They contact the original author, and if you can reach them (typically not possible unless you have a connection), and they are willing, they will give you a copy of the paper.

This publication is deciding to protect it's revenue stream by going after it's authors for violating their agreements to not distribute the same material by a different means. Provided that giving away a copy of the paper is interpreted as redistribution, the original author is in the wrong; however, it is an unwise approach to punish authors, as it might tip the current balance of costs and benefits of publication in a prestigious journal to the side where other less prestigious Journals with more relaxed policies might start getting all the good papers.

It's been like this for the past 30 years, this is nothing new. Getting published in Science or Nature is a resume builder, which will get you A-listed for grant money.

Re:Too desperate to get published (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 months ago | (#45622113)

The way the review service has been funded in the past is that they charge quite a bit to obtain the Journal's distribution.

Peer review is done on a volunteer basis by other researchers in your field.

Re:Too desperate to get published (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622171)

The way the review service has been funded in the past is that they charge quite a bit to obtain the Journal's distribution.

Peer review is done on a volunteer basis by other researchers in your field.

Yes, the reviewers don't get paid; however, it isn't free to get the paper reviewed. Even "volunteer" organizations require support and services which eventually require someone (coordinators, administrators, janitors, etc) to be paid. In this case, the reviewers are not part of the paid group.

Re:Too desperate to get published (2)

icebike (68054) | about 5 months ago | (#45622187)

Sounds like a well rehearsed advertisement for Elsevier.

Re:Too desperate to get published (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622475)

Sounds like a well rehearsed advertisement for Elsevier.

I didn't say I liked them, or even that it's the right way to go about things. It is however, a fair description of why researchers transfer over copyrights, and why Elsevier is punishing the original author. Personally, sounds pretty low to me, as they are effectively gaming the system, biting the hands that feed them. Of course, they've enabled those hands to get ahead in their fields, so it's not a one-sided street by any stretch of the imagination.

Re:Too desperate to get published (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 months ago | (#45622089)

Why not just put it on their institutional web server, and submit the link to google?

Because that doesn't count towards tenure.

Re:Too desperate to get published (3, Informative)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 5 months ago | (#45622131)

When the answer seems obvious, it's almost always wrong. More specifically, the words "Why not just..." should never be typed or said, because there is probably a good reason why not.

In this case, you have two options: publish in a reputable journal, or make it available elsewhere. For many reasons, lots of people choose the first. Then the choice is turn over all rights, or not. To be published, the "standard" form includes giving up those rights. They already decided to publish, so the decision to sign the form was made - probably as part of the submission process on condition of being accepted.

A simple solution would not resolve the complex issues of judging a paper's impact, awarding tenure, and piles of other aspects that are only mildly related to choosing where to publish, but are greatly impacted by it.

Re:Too desperate to get published (1)

icebike (68054) | about 5 months ago | (#45622239)

Sounds to me like a great deal of evil could be dispensed with by eliminating Tenure, a concept found in almost no other industry. It seems Tenure has become like patents, a perverted concept totally at odds with the needs of its most ardent supporters.

Re:Too desperate to get published (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 5 months ago | (#45622303)

Sounds to me like a great deal of evil could be dispensed with by eliminating Tenure,

Tenure is a tenet of academic freedom. When you have reached a point in your career when you have proven worth, you get a bit of freedom to explore what you want without fearing that you'll be fired because of it. Yes, you could trust universities to not fire people for uncoordinated rambling in their research, but formalizing the relationship a bit isn't a bad idea.

Re:Too desperate to get published (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622357)

Tenure doesn't exist in the UK, but you still need a publication record to get an academic job. Having no tenure process moves that threshold to the start of employment, rather than the period between appointment and tenure committee, but it doesn't go away.

Re:Too desperate to get published (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 5 months ago | (#45622555)

Why do these researchers transfer ALL copyrights, instead of just giving a non-exclusive copyright?

Because Elsevier demands it. And they can demand it because academics need citations and Elsevier provides them.

Reminder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45621899)

From the article:

Do scholarly publishers really need to be reminded that “publish” means “make public”? Yes. Yes, they do.

You need to be reminded that all publishers got into the business to make money. That's why they call it a business. Their sole reason for existing is to charge you for the "privilege" of taking your ideas and selling them on paper (or online, these days) for you. It is endemic to their particular set of services.

Can the global economy survive without publishers of any kind? I don't know. Does it need to learn to do so? Absolutely.

Re:Reminder (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 5 months ago | (#45621989)

Can the global economy survive without publishers of any kind?

I am quite certain that it can survive without these publishers. Some publishers provide services to the authors in the forms of review, editing, marketing, advances, etc.. These publishers don't pay editors, don't pay reviewers, don't market, etc.. I think that it's pretty clear that their role these days is that of a parasite.

Re:Reminder (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 months ago | (#45622251)

You know, this phrase "in business to make money" is getting to be said like they are words handed down by God. They're not. Not everything needs to make money to be a worthwhile venture despite what our current dogma in the U.S. says.

Maybe as a society we should be creating some institutions that are in business to make the country or the world better, or in business to increase the sum total of knowledge. There is NOTHING that says everything has to make a profit. We are not Ferengi.

Wide Dissemination vs LockBox (2)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 5 months ago | (#45621925)

I'm surprised authors would agree to terms not allowing them to share articles with others in their field and journalists.

Once upon a time, scientific print magazines were the only way to "get the word out." That died over a decade back.

Either those publishers get a new business model which adds value to the papers they "print" or they will die, just like Kodak no more 'paper' prints.

A new business model could easily be searching and retrieving all the world's scientific or medical or whatever literature and providing that as a service.

Re:Wide Dissemination vs LockBox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45621969)

If it's that simple why haven't you done t already?

Re:Wide Dissemination vs LockBox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622051)

Why would anyone even publish in elsevier?
Because they can't get accepted in a real journal?

Re:Wide Dissemination vs LockBox (1)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 5 months ago | (#45622061)

You mean like Google Scholar?

Or Google Books?

Or that other one I used to use before scholar that had all the free papers etc?

This is most certainly NOT a new business model!

Re:Wide Dissemination vs LockBox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622085)

Some authors can probably have the freedom not to. If you're known within your field, you can spread your work by presenting it at seminars, conferences and so on. This is unfortunately not gonna work for most of the researchers. If you're especially a young grad student or a fresh PhD, you have basically no choice. You are pressured into publishing. Actually, it's even more. If you want to stay in academia without having ever published in journals run by Elsevier/Springer/Wiley-Blackwell/etc, you're doomed (at least in my domain).

I am a grad student. I am about to finish my first article. I wouldn't want to submit it to any of those closed-access journals by principle. But I don't even know if I'll have a choice! If your advisor tells you to do it, well, you are soon out of options...

This is actually a good example where the younger generation is really helpless. Drastic changes should be achieved by an organized boycott of established researchers, it's the only way to kill this hydra.

Re:Wide Dissemination vs LockBox (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 5 months ago | (#45622559)

Once upon a time, scientific print magazines were the only way to "get the word out." That died over a decade back.

Yup, I heard there was a guy at CERN who invented a nicer way of sharing work with other physicists...

Re:Wide Dissemination vs LockBox (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 5 months ago | (#45622571)

I'm surprised authors would agree to terms not allowing them to share articles with others in their field and journalists.

What choice do they have? Publishing is highly competitive and academic authors need citations. Academics would give away their firstborn to get into a highly ranked journal.

Make a deal with the devil and he wants what's his (2)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 5 months ago | (#45621929)

These academics are eager to obtain the status that publication in a journal is seen to convey. It is good for their career, and they make valuable social connections with influential gatekeepers. We are told that publication in a journal means that a competent authority has verified or at least pondered the research.

Turns out that this is all bullshit, and that the only people who benefit are the publishing houses and the gatekeepers. Academics are spineless or they would have eschewed this worthless system years ago. They simply don't want to risk their careers by rebelling against the journals, because often times the people on the tenure review boards are also working for the journals.

Ironically, the very purpose of these journals (vetting and verifying) seems broken as people get fake, non-reproducible research published and therefor accepted as fact all the time.

Something smells in the ivory tower. It started smelling decades ago, when supra-geniuses suggested that schools be run more like businesses. Deliberate subversion or just lots of stupid brilliant academics in a circle jerk, blinded by each others' jizz?

Upset your suppliers, become irrelevant? (5, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | about 5 months ago | (#45621951)

I can't think of a better way to destroy your product than to annoy the people who create and deliver to you (at zero price) the basic ingredient to the product you sell.

Re:Upset your suppliers, become irrelevant? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622429)

Zero price? I wish, try negative price; it costs money to publish in journals.

Re:Upset your suppliers, become irrelevant? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622675)

Do you mean that researchers pay the journal to have their work published, or that it costs the publisher to publish journals?

It costs money to publish anything, but that doesn't stop most publications from paying authors for their work.

Re:Upset your suppliers, become irrelevant? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622733)

"Most publications" != "scientific journals". Scientific journals *never* pay authors. They frequently charge authors per-page fees for publication.

Here is the problem (5, Insightful)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 5 months ago | (#45622001)

I work at a big national laboratory that is funded by the US government.

Naturally the government needs to allocate limited funds among their various laboratories, each of which has more ideas for things to do than there is funding.

In order to avoid corruption / favoritism (remember total we are talking billions of dollars), the government wants a quantifiable way to evaluate the performance of the laboratories in order to help determine how to best distribute the available funds.

One of the metrics they have picked is number of publications in "high impact" journals. (its not easy to think of better quantifiable metrics).

Most of the high impact journals are the old private journals like Physical Review, or Nature.

So, if the scientists refuse to publish in these journals, the laboratory looks worse, and will tend to lose funds. This will direct money away from the best labs.

Of course publishing in high impact journals also helps the scientists' careers - and the same sort of arguments apply.

The journals of course are businesses and quite reasonably want to stay in business and make a profit.

Sadly I don't have a good idea for a solution.

Government works aren't copyrightable.. (4, Informative)

toonces33 (841696) | about 5 months ago | (#45622047)

If you are a government employee and you submit a paper, instead of assigning the copyright, you send them some sort of standard form informing them that since the work was done by the government, it is not copyrightable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_status_of_work_by_the_U.S._government [wikipedia.org]

Re:Government works aren't copyrightable.. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622129)

So, government employee as author on each paper to poison the source?

Re:Government works aren't copyrightable.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622523)

Yes, please. Actually, go ahead and extend that to anyone paid out of government grant funds (which is virtually everybody doing research). For both the sake of the taxpaying public, who deserve access to the science they are paying for, and for the sake of science itself, which is nothing without the free exchange of ideas and discoveries, for-profit limited-access journal publishers should be scoured with fire from the face of the earth.

Re:Government works aren't copyrightable.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622671)

for the sake of science itself, which is nothing without the free exchange of ideas and discoveries

While today we take for granted that science and the free exchange of ideas are tied together, historically, this is an aberration. For example, Galileo sent to Kepler an encrypted text, as was usual for the time, concerning the discovery of the phases of Venus -- thus proving that he had discovered it first, but without revealing the discovery until later.

Re:Government works aren't copyrightable.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622477)

If you are a government employee and you submit a paper, instead of assigning the copyright, you send them some sort of standard form informing them that since the work was done by the government, it is not copyrightable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_status_of_work_by_the_U.S._government [wikipedia.org]

You'd think that Elsevier had heard of that already and put it at the top of their publishing agreement [elsevier.com] or something.

Re:Here is the problem (2)

neminem (561346) | about 5 months ago | (#45622053)

I do - take a hint from movie and music studios. Release your movies or music with all kinds of restrictive licenses, then surreptitiously hand them over to some other guy without your name on it to release it to the internet. When asked, say you got hacked and had nothing to do with it. Plausible deniability for everyone!

Re:Here is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622115)

what are the barriers to entry for a cooperatively funded high quality journal?

given that the reviewers are already doing it for free, you need enough money
to hire a few people, get an office, and have everyone collectively agree
that its a useful thing to do (to start getting high quality submissions on the faith that
they will have some cache if published)

clearly thats a bit of chicken and egg, but if the parasite in the middle interferes too
much with the free exchange of information, it doesn't seem out of the question.
existing professional organizations dont seem like a bad place to start, although
they're raking it in too (looking at you ACM)

it already kind of sucks having to dig around secondary search results looking
for a valid pdf, only to be suckered into looking at an abstract only paywall

Re:Here is the problem (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 5 months ago | (#45622169)

Its a chicken and egg problem. People won't submit their best papers to you until you have a top reputation. You don't get a top reputation until you get enough high quality papers.

I think some public journals have managed it, but its difficult. Optics Express is one excellent example.

Re:Here is the problem (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 months ago | (#45622211)

Easy. Force all government funded research to be published in an open access journal as a condition of that funding. Nature will either have to accept papers that are available for free, or become a vanity press for corporations.

Concerning impact factors, they seem a little indirect. The impact factor is the average number of citations a work in the journal receives. Why not just count the number of citations a work actually receives? If I publish a paper in Nature that receives no citations, what good is it to the scientific community and why should I get rewarded for that? If I publish a paper in PLOS One that gets hundreds of citations, isn't that more important than the publisher I chose?

They have to compete with those who communicate (2)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 5 months ago | (#45622095)

Scientific publication is how science proceeds. It's how scientists communicate. Some countries and organizations encourage that better than others. When I find a paper that's paywalled, I know there's a good chance I may be able to find a similar paper from the UK or elsewhere where "publication" is seen as a means for scientists to communicate, rather than to get rich selling their papers. Scientists who publish in paywalled-only journals may find they aren't communicating as well as those who are able to be more open with their results. This could negatively impact their careers. This is not the same as the mechanism of nonscientific publications where making money from the reader for the author is the primary goal. There's a conflict of interest here and I'm afraid it doesn't bode well for the scientific journals. They are no longer the most effective and lowest cost means od disseminating scientific information. The observation of the "Kodak moment" is an apt one.

Re:They have to compete with those who communicate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622531)

Whoever modded this guy up is an idiot.

When I find a paper that's paywalled, I know there's a good chance I may be able to find a similar paper

If this is a real concern, you can email the person, and they are usually more than willing to give you a copy. And if it is a real concern, you know, scientists usually go to conferences, present their latest results. Hey, you could go to one of those. These conferences also have conference papers. These papers usually do not get embargoed nearly as strictly, and contain many of the same results (though with less detail -- which unless you're working on exactly the same thing, isn't so important anyway).

Scientists who publish in paywalled-only journals may find they aren't communicating as well as those who are able to be more open with their results. This could negatively impact their careers.

People who think they are scientists that don't have access to a research library will find their careers dead-end quite fast.

This is not the same as the mechanism of nonscientific publications where making money from the reader for the author is the primary goal.

Profits for the author? Um, what? You're full of crap.

I thought this was allowed regardless. (3, Insightful)

Zarhan (415465) | about 5 months ago | (#45622141)

I have published a paper through Elsevier when I was working on my PhD. At least the contract I signed with them states that I retain the right to distribute the papers if I so choose, for example, on my own website.

Of course, if the distrubution happens through a third party...that might be a different matter.

Re:I thought this was allowed regardless. (3, Informative)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 5 months ago | (#45622307)

Here are a couple of good resources for looking up details of publisher policies:

Sherpa [sherpa.ac.uk]
List of academic journals by preprint policy [wikipedia.org] Elsevier's policies are particularly obscure, and vary from journal-to-journal. They are often explained so poorly that it's hard to tell what the policy even is.

You are kidding me (2)

purnima (243606) | about 5 months ago | (#45622143)

I work in an area where most of the top journals are owned by Elsevier. Also most of my publications are with Elsevier and I'm on several editorial boards for Elsevier journals.. I've been thinking of resigning from editorial boards on Elsevier journals and starting new arxiv based journals because of the cost of journals. This breaks the camel's back. Elsevier can bite me.

Elsevier is not doing anything wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45622277)

Authors are still allowed to post their own work. They are only not allowed to publish the final version that has been edited by Elsevier. Publishing anything short of the final version is completely acceptable. Most authors simply post the pre-print version of their work and this is close enough that you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the final version and the preprint.

This policy is the same as the one offered by Springer and ACM and does not limit the authors or the spread of science in any way.

Elsevier does issue takedown notices from time to time when the final version of the published journal articles has been, often inadvertently, posted.

There are many other good options for authors who want to share their article. They can share the final published version of the article with colleagues, use it for internal teaching and training, and at conferences or meetings. Any author who publishes in an Elsevier journal can also post and share other versions of their article, following some simple guidelines that vary by the version of the article to be shared. And of course the final published journal article can be shared whenever an author publishes open access with us.

There are plenty of other reasons to boycott Elsevier and other publishers, but this is definitely not one of the reasons.

Re:Elsevier is not doing anything wrong (1)

David Gerard (12369) | about 5 months ago | (#45622529)

By "edited by Elsevier", you mean of course "edited by someone else not getting paid either".

Claiming copyright on layout - a mechanical function - is severely questionable given Bridgeman v. Corel. Sweat of the brow does not earn you a copyright in the US.

Here's the Chronicle on this kerfuffle: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/posting-your-latest-article-you-might-have-to-take-it-down/48865 [chronicle.com] The scientists are not happy.

A possible solution? (1)

randomhacks (3420197) | about 5 months ago | (#45622423)

How about this for a possible solution? 1) The researchers should publish everything on a website and make it freely available. 2) The website should allow anyone to read, comment and rate the papers - however they must use their real identities to comment. The comments and ratings would be weighted based on the reputation of the commenter which would be calcuated from previous comments and the ratings of their papers. The journals could still have a business because they could review the papers themselves. They could select papers which they that think are interesting and timely. They could then purchase the right to print the research off the researchers and publish them in a nicely laid out magazine complete with editors comments which they could sell to Universities. It would be in their interest to have good quality and interesting papers. Grants could be given based on the ratings / comments that your work receives and also which journal selects and publishs your work. This system would have benefits over the existing journal system by: 1) Allow complete transparency 2) Allow papers to be retracted or corrected. 3) Allow "you might also like" functionality. 4) Encourage public discuss of papers. Personally, I think it is really said that the acedemics can't sort this out.

Important detail missing. (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about 5 months ago | (#45622491)

One thing I was unable to ascertain from the article was whether Elsevier was going after authors who share the preprint version of their paper, or the one that is typeset by Elsevier. I have published in Elsevier journals before, and I send the preprint to arxiv.org where it will be permanently available for free. Then, after they accept it for publication, they send a PDF of the article typeset as it will appear in the journal, which is the same content, but laid out more professionally. When signing over the copyright, I signed a non-exclusive right to Elsevier, meaning I retained the right to distribute the preprint version of the paper. (This is required as the research was funded by the U.S. government.) I do not have the right, however, to publicly redistribute the Elsevier version of the paper. (Although I don't think they mind my sharing it privately with colleagues).

The Solution lies within the Institution (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 5 months ago | (#45622667)

This is the fault of the Schools. The Schools pressure academics to publish, and the only publishing outlet is often Elsevier.

The Schools need to bind all of their academics to these contractual terms:
(1) The School reserves the right to openly publish all work of its author-professors for no money.
(2) The School designates the author-professor of the work as its agent for such open publishing.
(3) The School will never ever second guess any decision made by the agent/author-professor's regarding any open publishing decisions that the agent/author-professor makes.
(4) This agreement does not limit the author-professor's ability to profit from his or her work in any way whatsoever.

This would solve the problem.

Why wouldn't this work?

Article is flame bait (5, Informative)

siwelwerd (869956) | about 5 months ago | (#45622681)

This is complete flame bait. Here is a link to what Elsevier allows authors to do with their articles: http://www.elsevier.com/journal-authors/author-rights-and-responsibilities#author-posting [elsevier.com] . The article asserts that posting to your own website is a violation of the agreement; note that Elsevier explicitly states that this is allowed. Posting the submitted version to preprint servers (e.g. arxiv.org) is explicitly allowed. What you can't do is post to some third party for-profit website, which is apparently how they view this academia.edu place. Given that they have an "about" page bragging about their investors, and they have a CEO, it does not seem far fetched to conclude that this academia.edu is gaining commercially from your posting the article, which is an explicit violation of the agreement with the publisher.

So to me, this is a non-story. Disclosure: I have no love for Elsevier, but I have published with them in the past and will again in the future (we junior faculty don't have the luxury of taking principled stands).

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