Elsevier are STILL mis-selling Open Access and behaving ILLEGALLY. They don't care

TWO YEARS ago Mike Taylor publicised that Elsevier were illegally charging for paid open access. Here’s his shocking analysis a few days ago
The Illegality is no longer in doubt. Charles Oppenheim is highly experienced and agrees that Elsevier are acting illegally. We do not impute motive – you can decide whether it’s

  • incompetence
  • lack of care (indifference)
  • deliberate (which could be criminal)

SEVEN MONTHS ago I re-raised this issue in great detail. Elsevier’s director of Universal Access (Alicia Wise) replied to my blog but otherwise the company has made no public comment or taken any formal action. We have only AW’s vaguest assurance on my blog that anything was happening.
Note that Elsevier probably get a few thousand paid Open Access papers a year. When I asked AW for a list she said she wouldn’t/couldn’t make it public. That’s either

  • incompetence
  • indifference
  • deliberate obstruction

Last week I showed continued massive breach of copyright and contract by Elsevier – both illegal. When This was put to AW she replied flippantly “Good things take time” – i.e. Elsevier were not taking this seriously enough to issue a public statement.
There is real anger among funders and authors. Scientists have been taken to task by funders for non-compliance, when it’s all Elsevier’s fault.
Charles Oppenheim and I suggested immediate action.
NOTE: The original article I used in this article as an example was not, in fact, Open Access so here’ s a verifiable anecdote (I have permission from the authors) )to replace it.]
A colleague wrote in 2012-nov:

We have recently published a review [in an Elsevier journal] and have had a large amount of requests for the pdfs over the last few days as the article was only just listed on Pubmed rather than just the journal website. This was quite strange as we had selected the Open Access option as we are funded by the Wellcome Trust. Needless to say Elsevier had not made the article open access and were charging for access (32 USD/ day) Once I informed my boss he was absolutely fuming and wrote to them basically calling them a ‘bunch of *****.’ What is most disappointing as this is the second time this as happened with this same article. Once it was accepted a few months ago and listed on the journal website, Elsevier did not have it listed as open access and were still trying to charge for it. We had to contact them to inform them that it should be open access and it was not acceptable considering they charged us 3500 USD.

Since this was a personal acquaintance it seems likely that wider mis-selling has happened. What is particularly clear is that even when serious errors are pointed out Elsevier fails to fix them.
So is it fixed now? Well it’s STILL stamped (C) Elsevier and “All rights reserved”. And here’s the Rightslink – (C) Elsevier [a breach of copyright] and charging for permission to reuse. And look at the prices??? FORTY Quid for 1 reprint.
I no longer believe in AW’s “urgency” and “commitment”. Why should I? TWO YEARS of illegality is unacceptable.
So tomorrow I’ll tell you what I’ve done.

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2 Responses to Elsevier are STILL mis-selling Open Access and behaving ILLEGALLY. They don't care

  1. Alicia Wise says:

    Hi Peter,
    Can you please provide information about the article you are referring to above? This will help us to investigate it. Thank you.
    Last week we began introducing some changes to disable the Rightlink button for Open Access content on Science Direct. Some temporary JavaScript was added to article pages and this week there will be a small Science Direct release to make the change on the server side and remove the Javascript. There is a small possibility that some users will see the RightsLink link temporarily “flash” on the screen before disappearing.
    With kind wishes,
    Dr Alicia Wise
    Director of Access & Policy

  2. Pingback: Another day, another Elsevier website illegally selling articles - Ross Mounce

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