[Update 2015-03-13: I have blogged further about this here and provided a recap here. This post has been viewed over 10,000 times. Clearly some people want to sweep this under the carpet and pretend this is just ‘a storm in a teacup’ but it did happen and people do care about this. Thanks to everyone who spread the word.]
Today, Elsevier (RELX Group) illegally sold me a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licensed article:
Colson, P. et al. HIV infection en route to endogenization: two cases. Clin Microbiol Infect 20, 1280-1288 (2014).
I’m really not happy about it. I don’t think the research funders will be happy about it either. Especially not the authors (who are the copyright holders here).
Below is a screenshot of how the content was illegally on offer for sale, for $31.50 + tax.
To investigate if it really was on sale. I decided to make a test purchase. Just to be absolutely sure. Why not? The abstract looked interesting. The abstract was all I was allowed to read. I wanted to know more.
Below is the email receipt I received confirming my purchase of the content. I have crudely redacted my postal address but it’s otherwise unaltered:
So what’s the problem here?
The article was originally published online by Wiley. As clearly indicated in the document, the copyright holders are the authors. The work was licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).
The terms of this widely used license clearly state: “You may not use the material for commercial purposes.”
Wiley respect this license. They make this content freely available on their website here. The authors, or their research funder or institution probably paid Wiley money to make sure that the article could be made freely available to the world.
But tonight, Elsevier were selling it to me and all the world via their ScienceDirect platform.
This is clearly an illegal copyright infringement.
I have tweeted Elsevier employees @wisealic & @TomReller to see how I can get a refund for my purchase at the very least. This article should never have been on sale.
I have also contacted the corresponding author (Didier) to see what his thoughts are.
I do hope the authors will take legal action against Elsevier for their criminal misdeeds here.