There has been considerable twitterage this morning but silence from Elsevier… My guess so far is that thousands of authors have been seriously disadvantaged by Elsevier’s action. They may well have fallen foul of their funding body. They may be distressed that people are “required” to pay Elsevier for what they thought was a freely re-usable article. Meanwhile I assume that all the funds obtained by Rightslink are being distributed between them and Elsevier. Will any of the purchasers be offered their money back? I am supported by knowledgeable commenters in my claim that Elsevier’s action is immoral , unethical and probably illegal. Charles Oppenheim (a distinguished expert in this area) writes in a comment.
MIKE TAYLOR IS CORRECT. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ states that no further legal terms may be applied to a CC BY licence that in any way restrict third party use of materials. My reading of it all is as follows: author paid money to have the item licensed under CC BY. Elsevier is in breach of that agreement. Author is now entitled to claim breach of contract by Elsevier, and to put item up themselves somewhere under CC BY terms. Author is also entitled to contact Elsevier and insist all restrictions on use are removed. Finally, author can sue Elsevier for damages – the cost of the OA licence plus all subsequent costs. My question is as follows: has anyone contacted the author? Is the author aware of what has been done?
The twitter commentary generally agreed that Elsevier was in legal breach of the contract with the author. There is no question that Elsevier through Rightslink are asserting ownership and copyright. I read Elsevier’s “Molecular phylogenetic and Evolution” – or rather my machines do. Here’s a typical paper http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1055790314000049 It’s All-rights reserved as well as CC-NC in the HTML version. When we go to Rightslink as a student writing a dissertation we get:
you are REQUIRED to get Elsevier’s permission. This appears to be a legal statement which Elsevier has no right to make. And here is a specifically non-commercial company (whatever that is – trading is a commercial activity);
You are REQUIRED to have Elsevier review your request.