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Update: German Legal Claim

Two members of the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, the American Chemical Society (ACS) and Elsevier, are asking the Regional Court in Munich, Germany, to clarify ResearchGate’s copyright responsibilities. The second hearing before the court takes place today, 10 October 2018. The court case began in April this year. Concurrently, ACS and Elsevier have also asked the US courts to address ResearchGate’s copyright responsibility.

“Coalition members have always been clear; we want ResearchGate to stop its illicit distribution of in-copyright articles on its site. ResearchGate has rejected the user-friendly technical solutions we have proposed, instead insisting publishers send takedown notices for articles that it knowingly illicitly distributes on its site. This is not a viable long-term solution for the research community and its stakeholders,” said James Milne Phd, Chair of the Coalition for Responsible Sharing.

ResearchGate takes high-quality content that is written and published by others and has made as many as 4 million copyrighted articles freely available via its platform, and this number continues to grow by the day. Its business model depends on the distribution of these in-copyright articles to generate traffic to its site, which is then commercialized through the sale of targeted advertising. ResearchGate also modifies articles for the same purpose, and where corrections or retractions are issued, fails to update articles accordingly, undermining research integrity.

After several failed attempts to find an amicable solution with ResearchGate, including signing up to the Voluntary Principles of Article Sharing on Scholarly Collaboration Networks and implementing a user-friendly technical solution, the Coalition for Responsible Sharing was left with no other choice but to start issuing takedown notices – a practice insisted upon by ResearchGate. The Coalition firmly believes that, given the scale of infringement, takedown notices are not a viable long-term solution and disruptive to the research community.

The Coalition for Responsible Sharing remains hopeful for a solution that is in the interest of all stakeholders and consistent with access and usage rights.