Two journal publishers have launched legal proceedings in the United States against academic-networking site ResearchGate for copyright infringement.
Elsevier and the American Chemical Society (ACS) say that the ResearchGate website violates US copyright law by making articles in their journals freely available. The two publishers filed the claim with the United States District Court for the District of Maryland on 2 October.
ResearchGate, which is based in Berlin, Germany, declined to comment to Nature. In October 2017, the same publishers launched a similar suit for copyright infringement in Germany, which has not yet concluded. At the time, ResearchGate declined to comment on this lawsuit.
By the following month, ResearchGate had disabled public access to 1.7 million articles on its site.
The Coalition for Responsible Sharing, a group of publishers — including Elsevier and the ACS — that formed to order ResearchGate to remove their papers from its site, estimates that up to four million copyrighted articles have been made available for free on the platform.
The platform has more than 15 million members worldwide.
A recent study by Hamid Jamali, an information scientist at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, Australia, revealed1 that 40% of a random sample of 500 articles shared on the platform breached copyright.
James Milne, spokesperson for the coalition, says that it has not taken the legal step “lightly” but sees no other option after less formal efforts to reach an agreement have failed. “ResearchGate continues to reject the viable long-term solutions we have proposed to address the copyright infringement on its site,” he adds.
Jamali, H. R. Scientometrics 112, 241–254 (2017).