Elsevier will not immediately stop charging users for CC-BY “permissions” and will not relabel mislabelled articles. I suggest academia takes legal action

I have received a reply from Alicia Wise of Elsevier to my assertion that Elsevier was   asserting copyright and charging readers illegally

Hi Peter,

As noted in the comment thread to your blog back in August we are improving the clarity of our OA license labelling (eg on ScienceDirect) and metadata feeds (eg to Rightslink). This is work in progress and should be completed by summer. I am working with the internal team to get a more clear understanding of the detailed plan and key milestones, and will tweet about these in due course.

With kind wishes,

Alicia

Dr Alicia Wise
Director of Access and Policy
Elsevier
@wisealic

I replied

Thank you for your reply.

You therefore confirm that Elsevier will for several more months despite being alerted to the possible illegality
* continue to assert rights over CC-BY work
* will continue to ask Rightslink to collect money for “permissions” which it has no right to
* require re-users to “request permissions” when it has no authority to do so.
I would suspect that this is a prima facie breach of trading regulations.

It seems clear that Elsevier knows its actions are wrong and doesn’t care. NOTE THAT DURING THIS TIME ELSEVIER WILL CONTINUE TO COLLECT MONEY TO WHICH IT HAS NO RIGHT. My suggestion to funders , universities (on behalf or authors and readers) is take legal action against Elsevier for various breaches of contract.

6 thoughts on “Elsevier will not immediately stop charging users for CC-BY “permissions” and will not relabel mislabelled articles. I suggest academia takes legal action

  1. Charles Oppenheim

    If I were Alicia Wise, I would be sending out urgent e mails to the relevant Elsevier staff as follows:

    “1. The problem of articles for which authors have paid OA Gold fees, but which are still marked as “All rights reserved” and requiring people to pay to access is causing us serious repetitional damage and is opening us to potential legal challenge.
    2. I cannot understand how we agreed to launch our Gold OA options without ensuring that our systems and software were robust enough to handle the resulting actions by authors and potential users.
    3. I want the rectification of this problem to be put as TOP PRIORITY, with all other service enhancements and bug fixes being relegated. We need more staff working on fixing this problem immediately.
    4. We need to issue a statement in the next day or two outlining what we are doing to rectify the problem and when we expect the problem to be rectified.
    5. In the meantime, we need to inform all authors who paid for their articles to be OA of the problem, and offer to refund the monies they paid us for that. We also need to contact all users who paid fees to access OA articles, explain what has happened and offer to refund their fees. Only in that way can we restore goodwill with our authors and users.
    6. We need to learn lessons from this incident about how we handle complaints and how quickly we resolve them.”

    (Incidentally, unlike some commentators, I (Charles) accept that the solution to the problem may well not be trivial and may take time to resolve).

    Reply
    1. pm286 Post author

      Thank you – this is exactly what I would have done in Alicia Wise’s position (although I would have done it 7 months ago when that meddlesome Murray-Rust uncovered a whole raft off problems). I am particularly concerned that Elsevier take the law and contracts so light-heartedly.

      The replies from Alicia and her tweets seem to suggest that Elsevier don’t care (at least publicly) and they’ll simply ignore the problem because they have powerful lawyers.

      Reply
  2. Alicia Wise

    Hi all -

    We agree it would be wrong to collect permissions revenue for rights that users are already entitled to. We believe this is unlikely – certainly no one has informed us of this happening – but it’s important to confirm. CCC colleagues are therefore cross-checking their records against the list of open access articles published by Elsevier, and a refund will be offered if someone has inadvertently purchased permissions they do not need for open access articles.

    We have been working for some time to fully integrate our OA metadata into the RightsLink system in order to ensure that permissions for open access content are handled correctly by CCC. That project is on track and expected to complete in July. We appreciate everyone’s patience while this work is underway.

    With kind wishes,

    Alicia

    Dr Alicia Wise
    Director of Access & Policy
    Elsevier
    @wisealic

    Reply
    1. Mike Taylor

      “We agree it would be wrong to collect permissions revenue for rights that users are already entitled to. We believe this is unlikely – certainly no one has informed us of this happening – but it’s important to confirm.”

      There’s the opposite problem as well, though, Alicia: how many people would have benefited from these open-access articles, but turned away from the on being told that they’d have to pay? Unlike the first problem, this one is probably literally impossible to answer — there’s no central database to be consulted.

      And this bring us back once more to the problem of opportunity cost: for my money, by far the most important reason why all paywalls have to go; but, unfortunately, by its very nature, the hardest to quantify.

      “CCC colleagues are therefore cross-checking their records against the list of open access articles published by Elsevier, and a refund will be offered if someone has inadvertently purchased permissions they do not need for open access articles.”

      This is good to know, though. At least, it shows willing.

      I will not comment on the three-months-away planned completion time for the work of having your web-pages say that open-access articles are not “all rights reserved”.

      Reply
    2. pm286 Post author

      Thank you for this reply.

      This indicates that Elsevier (a) believe in their own integrity of information management and (b) intend to violate contracts and rights for another four months.

      I think this is quite unacceptable and that the way the you and Elsevier have behaved (“Good things take Time”) is an indication that you do not take this seriously. I shall be taking this forward and will publicise how.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>