Academic publisher Elsevier, a subsidiary of Reed Elsevier that publishes journals in the medical, technical and scientific fields, has begun to send takedown notices to universities that display the works of their own faculty online. According to the Washington Post, Elsevier is within its legal rights to do so, as it owns the copyright to these works. That is not in dispute, but longstanding industry practice has generally been to overlook academics distributing their own work. Elsevier is now changing that practice and adopting a harsher stance on its copyright ownership.
Academia.edu received nearly 3,000 takedown requests over the course of a few weeks, according to the Post. The site complied with these requests and e-mailed the authors in question to inform them why their papers would no longer be available. Institutions from the University of Calgary to Harvard have taken down academic works that are legally the intellectual property of Elsevier.
The Post notes this new stance by Elsevier may push academic authors and universities to more open models of distributing their research, a movement that has already gained ground in recent years.