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The Coalition for Responsible Sharing and ResearchGate

Following several unsuccessful attempts to collaboratively find ways for scholarly collaboration network ResearchGate to run its service in a copyright-compliant way, the Coalition for Responsible Sharing (CfRS) has taken formal steps to address the illicit dissemination of enormous amounts of published journal articles on ResearchGate’s website.

ResearchGate is a for-profit business, backed by venture capital, that illicitly provides access to enormous amounts of copyrighted scientific journal articles for its own commercial gain. Publishers and societies have tried to engage ResearchGate in a constructive dialogue about how to facilitate sharing content while respecting the rights of its creators and their partners. Unfortunately, this dialogue has not led to an agreement.

ResearchGate illicitly provides access to enormous amounts of copyrighted scientific journal articles

ResearchGate continues to provide access to enormous amounts of copyrighted scientific journal articles in contravention of law, and new copyright-infringing articles are constantly being added to the site. ResearchGate refuses to take any responsibility for this illicit activity and has instead required that publishers send takedown notices for each copyright-infringing article – causing unnecessary confusion for authors and placing the burden of monitoring its platform and removing illicit content on publishers and societies.

A long-term viable solution has yet to be found

ResearchGate has rejected the viable long-term solutions available that will bring its site into copyright compliance, such as signing up to the STM’s Voluntary Principles of Article Sharing on Scholarly Collaboration Networks or implementing a user-friendly technical solution. Therefore, the publishers of the CfRS are taking the following steps:

The CfRS continues to inform the scientific community and the wider public about the concerns with ResearchGate’s website and the solutions that are readily available to address these concerns.

Two founding members of the CfRS, ACS and Elsevier, have taken legal action in Germany and the United States, asking the courts to clarify ResearchGate’s responsibility for the unauthorized commercial exploitation of copyright-protected content on its site.

Also, for the time being, CfRS members have no choice but to send takedown notices to stop ResearchGate’s unauthorized use of copyright-protected content on its site.

Members of the CfRS are convinced that publishers and scholarly collaboration networks, including ResearchGate, can better serve the research community if they work together and respect each other’s valuable contribution to the community; therefore, they continue to seek a dialogue with ResearchGate and clarification regarding its responsibilities.