Academia.edu has received roughly 2,800 takedown notices from Elsevier for copyright infringement, reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education late last week. Academia.edu is a social network for academics to “share research papers” and has over 6 million registered users. Users of the site can create a profile, identify their institution and research interests, and upload their papers and CV to share among their peers. However, when an author publishes a paper in a journal, the journal publisher oftentimes requires an agreement that transfers copyright ownership of the paper to the publisher and restricts the unauthorized distribution of that paper. In this case, Elsevier, a major academic publisher, is compelling Academic.edu to remove papers for which Elsevier owns the copyright.
This incident is part of a larger conflict in scholarship between authors and publishers over the issue of copyright. When the business interests of publishers interfere with the scholarly interests of authors, there needs to be a negotiation toward a middle ground. A useful tool in this negotiation is the Author’s Addendum. The addendum stipulates:
“The Author shall, without limitation, have the non-exclusive right to use, reproduce, distribute, and create derivative works including update, perform, and display publicly, the Article in electronic, digital or print form in connection with the Author’s teaching, conference presentations, lectures, other scholarly works, and for all of Author’s academic and professional activities.” [Download PDF]
This addendum can be attached to any publishing agreement that requires the transfer of copyright for a scholarly journal article. The agreement is similar to the licensing agreements that are freely available from Creative Commons and are commonly applied by Open Access publishers like the Public Library of Science, PeerJ, and Open Humanities Press. For more information about the Author’s Addendum or Open Access publishing, contact your department librarian. The sharing of research is fundamental to the advancement of ideas and negotiating for more equitable rights to your work helps ensure that this practice continues in your favor.