From Gary Price’s InfoDocket comes news that Elsevier and ACS have filed a copyright infringement suit against ResearchGate in federal court in Maryland. The suit mirrors a similar one filed almost a year ago by the same publishers in a German court.
These lawsuits draw back the curtain on the fundamental nasty truth about academic publishing: it’s a billion-dollar industry built on thwarting researchers’ most basic expectations and desires about their own rights (and others’) to share knowledge. Researchers need to understand both of these things—the billion dollar part because keeping knowledge under wraps is the key to extracting monopoly profits from university budgets, and the misallignment with scholarly values part because researchers themselves are victims as well as accomplices in this broken system.
I wrote about this at much greater length in a blog post here when the German suit was filed, and I think what I said then stands up quite well as an analysis of this moment. Take a look, if you didn’t see it the first time.