Elsevier, antitrust, and copyright law – what you need to know

Following the latest update on Elsevier this morning, I just want to draw your attention to another cool post. This one is called Keeping Up With… Antitrust and Competition Law, by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), who are part of the American Library Association.

It provides a really useful overview of the complaint that Björn Brembs and I submitted to the EU antitrust authority. This was all about how Elsevier and other publishers have created a really weird ‘market’ around scientific publishing. It also describes some of the potential ways these could be resolved. Our original complaint might be a bit long and complicated, and this post does a really good job of breaking down and highlighting the most salient points. Thank you to Ana Enriquez, Scholarly Communications Outreach Librarian at the Penn State University Libraries, for writing this – much appreciated!

A little excerpt:

Possible Interventions

The complaint concludes by suggesting possible interventions the competition authority could make. Among other things, it suggests oversight of the market by an independent regulatory body, prohibition of non-disclosure clauses in vendor contracts, banning certain flawed measures of publication impact from hiring, funding, and tenure decisions, and strengthening library consortia. They even suggest “abolishing copyright on journal articles.”

While some of the suggested interventions could not be implemented by private parties, there are two that libraries and library consortia could take up: strengthening consortia and rejecting non-disclosure clauses. Together with the rest of the higher education community, libraries are also well-poised to reduce the use of flawed measures of publication impact and to examine critically the role that copyright plays in this market.

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