Reed Elsevier Is Stealing My Words

This displeases us greatly.

I received an email from ScienceBlogling Mike Dunford that Reed Elsevier had excerpted one of my posts. No problem there–I like it when people read my stuff….except for one thing:

The fuckers copyrighted my words.


(click to embiggen)

Mike Dunford lays out why this is such a fucking shitty thing to do:

This blog, like almost all blogs, is an open-access publication. There’s no charge to read this blog. If you’ve got an internet connection and time to waste, you can scroll through the things I’ve written to your heart’s content. The thing is, open access doesn’t mean that nobody gets paid.

If you’re reading this material on my blog, you’re going to see some ads. The ads bring in income for the Seed Overlords. They use that income to cover the not-insignificant costs of running this online Zoo. They also pay me (and the rest of the bloggers). The more people read my posts, the more opportunities there are for someone to actually look at one of the ads, and the more I get paid. I don’t get paid when people read this on someone else’s website.

Advertising-supported web publishing is a business model that Elsevier understands quite well. In fact, it’s a business model that they use. They run a cancer information site that’s open access and supported by advertising. And because they get paid only for the ads that appear on their site, they have a copyright policy that prohibits reposting their material on other sites without their consent.

That’s not the only time that Elsevier has shown a very acute awareness of where their money comes from.

They’ve consistently opposed open access initiatives around the world, because open access requirements would have a very large impact on their bottom line. In fact, they’ve gone to great lengths to try to protect their income stream. As you may remember, they were one of the publishers involved in the astroturf group “PRISM” that their attack dog PR expert put together to lobby Congress in opposition to an open access initiative.

Elsevier has spent a great deal of time, energy, and money in an effort to get people to respect their income flow. They apparently didn’t bother to think about mine.

The irony is that they stole posts that criticized them for being greedy bastards:

The worst offender, in my book, is Reed Elsevier. Their prices–which you or your offspring pay for in terms in higher library expenditures and thus higher tuition fees–are obscene, and often for really shitty journals. Faculty usually put up with this crap because publications are the lifeblood of tenure packages and grant proposals. No one wants to piss these guys off. I’m not talking about muttering what gonifs these guys are, I mean taking them out at the fucking knees.

That’s why I almost never review articles for these journals anymore (as opposed to Open Access journals, which I do–two in the last month alone, and that’s during grant season). Seriously, if they ever did want me to review, then they have to pay me just like any other business who wanted to consult my expertise would. If enough of us did that, well, things would get very interesting….

And the best part is this javascript disclaimer from the stolen post:

This document and any links, illustrations, comments or other information included in or accompanying it are independently provided by your firm through either independent creation or based upon independent relationships between your firm and third party sources other than LexisNexis®. LexisNexis® has not created, supplied, reviewed or endorsed this document and accompanying information.

To the best of my knowledge (and that of our Benevolent Seed Overlords), no such relationship exists.

Reed Elsevier: Pusbags of Publishing.

This entry was posted in Basic Human Decency, Fucking Royals, Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Reed Elsevier Is Stealing My Words

  1. Andrew says:

    So, let me get this right…
    If I want to publish in a journal, I pay the journal and they get to keep the copyright. Then if I want to read the journal I have to pay again. Basically the only thing the journal do that I couldn’t do myself by sticking a PDF on the university webserver and pinging Google Scholar is to provide credibility and prestige via. accepted peer-review, and the review is done by other people who don’t get paid. Yes?
    I can’t see how deliberately stowing publications behind someone else’s paywall would help me as a scientist. How are they still in business? Seems to me that someone could design an open-peer-review system and render them wholly obsolete, aside from the value of their back-catalogue.

  2. Annie says:

    Does Seed/Science Blogs publish under a Creative Commons license or other license? What is its use policy terms for its bloggers?
    I don’t understand how ReedElsevier can steal your work and copyright it.
    Sorry to be so dense. And I’m sorry that this has happened to you.

  3. Annie says:

    This is from the Seed TOS:

    Copyrights and Copyright Agent
    Seed Media respects the intellectual property of others, and we ask our users to do the same. If you believe that your work has been copied on the Service in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, or your intellectual property rights have been otherwise violated, please provide the following information to Seed Media’s Copyright Agent:
    1. an electronic or physical signature of the person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright or other intellectual property interest;
    2. a description of the copyrighted work or other intellectual property that you claim has been infringed;
    3. a description of where the material that you claim is infringing is located on the Site;
    4. your address, telephone number, and email address;
    5. a statement by you that you have a good faith belief that the disputed use is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
    6. a statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, that the above information in your notice is accurate and that you are the copyright or intellectual property owner or authorized to act on the copyright or intellectual property owner’s behalf.
    Seed Media’s agent for notice of claims of copyright or other intellectual property infringement can be reached as follows:
    By mail:
    Judy Grover
    Copyright Agent
    c/o Seed Media Group, LLC
    12 W. 21st St, 7th Floor
    By phone: 646.502.7050
    By email:

    But this appears to be for non-SB authored content appearing on SB or Seed. Does ReedElsevier publish a similar TOS for copyright infringement?

  4. Nathaniel says:

    IANAL, but Seed seems to be a US company, and I believe US law says that unless otherwise specified, all works are copyrighted, all rights reserved, by their authors. So Elsevier could be sued (probably not for enough to make it worthwhile, but I dunno) for copyright infringement.

  5. Hillary says:

    As a blogger participating on this site, are you bound by this statement?
    “Any Submissions submitted by you to the Site through the Venues or otherwise will be deemed non-proprietary and non-confidential, and may be used by Seed Media without restriction. Without limiting the foregoing, by offering any Submissions through the Site, you grant to Seed Media the worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable, nonexclusive right and license to reproduce, modify, edit, publish, display, perform, adapt, distribute, sublicense and otherwise use and exploit such Submissions (and any and all proprietary rights therein that you may have) in any and all forms and media, now or hereafter discovered, without compensation or attribution to you.”
    I can’t tell if this applies to bloggers or only people participating in Seed Media-created content.

  6. Hank Roberts says:

    > grant to Seed Media the worldwide, perpetual,
    > royalty-free, irrevocable, nonexclusive right and
    > license to … modify, edit, … otherwise use and exploit
    > such Submissions … , without compensation or attribution …
    Seed damn well _better_ remove any attribution to me from anything they’ve modified or edited.
    Because if they edit and modify something I wrote and then _do_ attribute it to me, I’m going to see about what it takes to shove that final important comma right where it belongs.

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  9. Dan says:

    Where can one obtain a list of Elsevier journals?
    You know, the ones I’m going to refuse to referee for…
    (And shan’t submit in.)

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