A little while ago I wrote to Minister David Willetts through my MP Julian Huppert on two issues;
- Elsevier’s misselling of Open Access Articles (later described by Elsevier as their “bumpy road to Open Access”)
- Elsevier’s unnecessary click-through API which would constrain researchers and get them and librraies to sign away their rights.
Today I have got a reply on both points which I reproduce below.
1) TL;DR They’ve talked with Elsevier about the bumpy road (i.e. charging people for Open Access). You’ll have to read between the lines as to what was actually said, but it might be “David, we’re terribly sorry, grovel grovel ”
2) They held firm and said “yes, the point of the law was that researchers could mine facts (etc.) without having to sign publisher APIs”. “Yes, PMR has a right to do it and you can’t stop it”. After all, if they didn’t say that, what’s the point of the law? Elsevier and the other publishers have lost that battle and should move on.
Just in case any other publishers think the message wasn’t clear, here it is. So thank you very much David and Julian. You have worked hard and consistently for that. And I and other researchers in the UK will show that your effort has unleased a massive potential for increasing wealth, human well-being and enhancing the status of the UK. I’ll be blogging on that RSN.
I have redacted my address so that GCHQ can’t say where I live and tell the NSA. (Ha!)
TL;DR Elsevier are very slowly responding to my criticisms. It seems the more money a company takes in the harder it is for them to get their Systems right. Good that they encourage Gold OA; Bad that they exercise no price control; Ugly that they think “Access to Research” is more than a cosmetic gesture. (That’s the one where citizens can cyle through the snow to their nearest library, have an hour to read a dumb screen, cannot cut and paste, cannot copy and cannot print; what we want is legal access over the Internet, not some Charles Dickens stupidity).
NOW the more exciting part…
TL;DR. A UK academic has the legal right to carry out TDM for non-commercial purposes unless THEIR LIBRARY stops them, by agreeing that they will act as publisher police. And , LIBRARIES, the goverment is making sure you know this. Ignorance is unacceptable. So why might you sign? The publisher might sweet-talk you into doing this, just like washing machine salesforce sell you “insurance” that is worse than your current legal rights. Remember PPI? Click through licences are as honest as misselled PPI. They’ll offer you a “better price” if you agree to constrain your researcher
The carrot for not signingis that your researchers will thank you and praise the library for freeing them from Elsevier’s wish to agree to their research project. You will have a warm fuzzy feeling that you have stood up for freedom. Libraries are more important to reseachers than publishers!
The stick… you can’t hide. The FOI-flying squad can find out whether you’ve signed the click through or other TDM restrictions. Resistance is futile. No “it’s too difficult to tell you, ” “we can’t find our contracts”, etc. There’ll be a giant UK spreadsheet (promise!) with your institution on it.
It’s easy. When a publisher salesperson comes to you mumble the mantra: “Yes to TDM; no to click-through”. They’ll try anything, but use the Force and be strong.
 a well-known parliamentary expression