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Today I received proof that Elsevier are also sending takedown notices to UK universities – asking them to takedown copies of their staff’s academic research papers, hosted on university webpages. The full text is further down this post (in red). It is not just Academia.edu, it is not just the University of Calgary, University of California-Irvine, or Harvard University. Elsevier very probably are sending takedown notices to institutions and websites across the globe.
No-one is safe from these legal threats.

Not only that, but they seem to be encouraging universities to be pro-active and takedown more than just the specific articles identified in the DMCA notice they send! They are encouraging universities to limit access to their research works. This is simply disgraceful (even though I acknowledge they are technically, legally within their rights to do this because of the way in which their copyright transfer agreements are written, which incidentally many academics are effectively forced to sign in order to get published and make progress in their careers).

For background information read:

How one publisher is stopping academics from sharing their research. The Washington Post 19/12/2013

Elsevier steps up its War On Access SVPOW 17/12/2013

300px-Elsevier_poster_with_text

Librarians and university web admins: please publicly come out with more examples like this. Researchers, readers and taxpayers desperately need to know about this. Silence and subterfuge benefits no-one, these chilling effects must be publicly revealed.

This is the email I received with certain parts redacted:

*** Sent via Email – Inappropriate postings of Elsevier’s journal articles / DMCA Notice of Copyright Infringement ***

Dear Sir/Madam,

I write on behalf of Elsevier to bring to your attention the inappropriate posting of final published journal articles to your institutional website. I am President at Attributor (A Digimarc Company), which assists some of the world’s most prominent publishers, including Elsevier, with digital content protection (www.digimarc.com/guardian). Following the discussion below, a formal DMCA takedown request is included as Appendix A.

As you probably know, Elsevier journal article authors retain or are permitted a wide scope of scholarly use and posting on their own sites and for use within their own institutions. Those rights are more expansive when it comes to author preprints or accepted manuscripts than with respect to the final versions of published journal articles. Elsevier recognizes that in some cases authors or their institutions may not be fully aware of these rights and can by mistake post the final version of their articles to institutional websites or repositories. Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that copies of final published journal articles have, perhaps inadvertently, been posted for public access to one of your institutional websites.

I therefore request your cooperation to remove or disable access to these articles on your site, including but not limited to the articles identified in Appendix A. We have identified merely a sample in Appendix A, and as a publisher of close to 2,000 journals this might mean that more articles published by Elsevier could be found on your site. Please may I therefore draw your attention to Elsevier’s posting policy and ask for your attention to ensuring that your posting practices comply with this?
http://www.elsevier.com/about/open-access/open-access-policies/article-posting-policy#published-journal-article

In particular I note that Elsevier currently doesn’t permit posting of the final published journal article, and if there is a mandate or systematic posting mechanisms in place then Elsevier asks for a cost-free agreement with the institution before accepted author manuscripts are posted.
I would also recommend considering the use of DOI links as a way to access to the version of records of a published article. This would allow authors to list their work and to provide easy access to peers.

Finally, should you need any help in properly identifying a final published article to prevent any future improper posting, please do get in touch via the email address below.

I appreciate your anticipated cooperation and if you have any questions or feedback, or if you believe you have received this message in error (as you have received permission to post this article from Elsevier), please contact: UniversalAccess@Elsevier.com
Thank you.

Sincerely,
Eraj Siddiqui
Attributor (A Digimarc Company)

Appendix A

Copyright Infringement Notice

This notice is sent pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the European Union’s Directive on the Harmonisation of Certain Aspects of Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society (2001/29/EC), and/or other laws and regulations relevant in European Union member states or other jurisdictions.

Please remove or disable access to the infringing pages or materials identified below, as they infringe the copyright works identified below.

I certify under penalty of perjury, that I am an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the intellectual property rights and that the information contained in this notice is accurate.

I have a good faith belief that use of the material listed below in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

My contact information is as follows:

Organization name: Attributor Corporation as agent for [Publisher Company]
Email: counter-notice@attributor.com
Phone: 650-340-9601
Mailing address:
400 South El Camino Real
Suite 650,
San Mateo, CA 94402

My electronic signature follows:
Sincerely,
/E Siddiqui/
E. Siddiqui
Attributor, Inc.

***List of Works and Location of Infringing Page or Material ***

Infringing page/material that I demand be disabled or removed in consideration of the above:

*** INFRINGING PAGE OR MATERIAL ***

Infringing page/material that I demand be disabled or removed in consideration of the above:

Rights Holder: Reed Elsevier

Original Work: [redacted]
Infringing URL: [redacted]

UPDATE:

Dutch Universities too are receiving DMCA’s from Elsevier:

2013-12-20-113623_939x846_scrot

@Wowter via Twitter

I’d just like to point out to anyone who asks, particularly CRC Press (part of Taylor&Francis Group, who are in turn part of Informa PLC) that by posting the full text of my book chapter to Academia.edu I am *not* breaching the copyright transfer agreement I signed.

Upon receiving a copyright transfer agreement as a PDF from them via email – I edited the PDF to reword the agreement to terms that were more agreeable to me (e.g. I did NOT want to transfer my copyright to them for my work).

The bit of wording I changed is as follows:

As such, copyrights in the Work will not inure to the benefit of the Publisher, the Publisher will not own the publication, its title and component parts, and all publication rights. This does not permit the Publisher, in its name, to copyright in the Contribution, make applications to register its copyright claim, and to renew its copyright certificate.

I signed this reworded form as PDF (displayed below, signature removed) and returned it to them. I have now kindly received a free ‘author copy’ of the printed book and my chapter has clearly been included so it’s too late for CRC press to exclude my chapter. I can only assume they agreed to the reworded terms of the contract I signed and sent them.

I doubt CRC press would even be bothered by my actions to be honest. They are allowing another of their books to be completely posted online for free, so in comparison to that, my action here is puny – but it certainly emboldens me for the next time I may have to sign a CTA form…

CRC Press are welcome to non-exclusively publish my book chapter. Thank you CRC Press for agreeing to my terms and conditions.

Contract

Lessons one might learn from this exercise:

DO NOT GIVE AWAY THE COPYRIGHT TO YOUR WORK!
PUBLISHERS DO NOT ‘NEED’ ALL YOUR COPYRIGHT TRANSFERRED TO THEM TO PUBLISH.
ALL THAT IS NEEDED IS FOR YOU TO GRANT THEM A NON-EXCLUSIVE LICENSE TO PUBLISH.

A word of warning though… I wouldn’t recommend relying on this method of editing CTA’s to get what you want. I was just lucky this time. Choosing an open access publication venue from the start is always the best option (if possible).

See also:

Mike Taylor 2010. Who Owns My Sauropod History Paper?
http://svpow.com/2010/10/13/who-owns-my-sauropod-history-paper/