Coalition for Responsible Sharing: Copyright compliance by ResearchGate is the only viable long-term solution

The Coalition for Responsible Sharing* was formed in October 2017 to address ResearchGate’s open disregard for copyright laws, evident through its storing and illicit distribution of copyrighted material via its web platform. The Coalition for Responsible Sharing has more than doubled its membership since it was formed in October 2017, and encompasses a wide variety of organizations from across the academic publishing industry, including leading professional societies and other non-profits, and commercial publishing organizations, all with global reach.

 “Members of the Coalition for Responsible Sharing have always been clear.  We require ResearchGate to appreciate and adhere to copyright law.  This includes identifying unauthorized copyrighted content before it is made public on its platform. We embrace and encourage legitimate sharing of content by the research community, with multiple options available to support this,” said James Milne, Chair of the Coalition for Responsible Sharing.

While today’s announcement regarding ResearchGate reaching a cooperation agreement with three publishers provides few details, it does indicate that the Coalition for Responsible Sharing wants to accomplish the same goal: no copyright-infringing content on ResearchGate’s site.

“However, it is the Coalition for Responsible Sharing’s position that no copyright-infringing content should go public on ResearchGate’s site in the first place.  The availability and subsequent removal of unauthorized content is unsustainable and disruptive to researchers who need a simple system that automatically provides clarity on how widely research can be shared,” said Milne.

The Coalition for Responsible Sharing welcomes and promotes Open Science. Commercializing research without making any contribution to it and distributing it without authorization, however, is not Open Science.

The Coalition for Responsible Sharing has offered ResearchGate a viable long-term technical solution by which an easy-to-use automated system determines during the upload process  whether an article can be shared publicly on a commercial site. This automated approach would avoid the illicit distribution of articles via the ResearchGate platform from the start and make the take-down of articles by ResearchGate at a later point unnecessary – allowing the researcher to experience a seamless and consistent user journey.

Despite ResearchGate rejecting this and other proposals, the Coalition for Responsible Sharing remains open to workings with ResearchGate, if it is prepared to establish a viable long-term solution and abide by global copyright terms.

* Issued 19 April, 2018 and signed by: American Chemical Society (chair), American Medical Association, American Physiological Society, BMJ, Brill, Elsevier, Future Science Group, IEEE, IWA Publishing, Portland Press (wholly-owned by the Biochemical Society), Wiley, Wolters Kluwer and World Scientific Publishing.