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Copyrights/Data Integrity/Ethical issues

FTC halts deceptive practices of academic journal publishers
- 28 Nov 2017

A federal court recently granted a preliminary injunction requested by the Federal Trade Commission, temporarily halting the deceptive practices of academic journal publishers charged by the agency with making false claims about their journals and academic conferences, and hiding their publishing fees, which were up to several thousand dollars.

The preliminary injunction against OMICS Group Inc., iMedPub LLC, Conference Series LLC, and their CEO, director, and owner, Srinubabu Gedela stems from a complaint the FTC filed last year that names Gedela and his three companies as defendants.

The defendants operate several websites, including OMICSonline.org, iMedPub.com, and Conferenceseries.com. They advertise hundreds of online academic journals and international conferences for scientists and medical professionals.

According to the complaint, the defendants deceptively claim that their journals provide authors with rigorous peer review and have editorial boards made up of prominent academics when in fact, many articles are published with little to no peer review and many individuals represented to be editors have not agreed to be affiliated with the journals.

The FTC's complaint alleges that the defendants do not tell authors submitting papers for publication that, after their online journals accept an article, the defendants charge the authors significant publishing fees and often do not allow authors to withdraw their articles from submission, making their research ineligible for publication in other journals.

The FTC also alleges that, to promote their scientific conferences, the defendants deceptively use the names of prominent researchers as conference presenters, when in fact many of those researchers had not agreed to participate in the events.

The FTC's complaint charges the defendants with multiple violations of the FTC Act's prohibition on deceptive acts or practices.

The preliminary injunction entered by a federal district court in the District of Nevada prohibits the defendants from making misrepresentations regarding their academic journals and conferences, including that specific persons are editors of their journals or have agreed to participate in their conferences. It also prohibits the defendants from falsely representing that their journals engage in peer review, that their journals are included in any academic journal indexing service, or any measurement of the extent to which their journals are cited. It also requires that the defendants clearly and conspicuously disclose all costs associated with submitting or publishing articles in their journals.

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Court ruling in favour of ACS in a case against Sci-Hub
- 07 Nov 2017

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has welcomed the court ruling in its case against Sci-Hub, a self-proclaimed web pirate organisation that steals and then illegally reproduces and disseminates copyrighted scientific research articles on the internet. Issued by Judge Leonie M. Brinkema on Nov. 3, the ruling orders Sci-Hub to cease infringement of ACS' copyrights, as well as counterfeiting and infringement of its trademarks.

The ruling is a victory for copyright law and the entire publishing enterprise. It was clear from the outset that Sci-Hub has pirated copyrighted and trademarked content on a massive scale. The group's decision to not attend the court proceedings, leading to the default judgment, speaks to the fact that it was in an indefensible position.

The ruling in ACS' favour provides an injunction against Sci-Hub, and those in active concert or participation with it, to stop misappropriating the Society's copyrighted and trademarked material. It also ordered Sci-Hub to pay $4.8 million in damages to ACS.

The relief provided by Brinkema in this case speaks about the serious nature of Sci-Hub's actions. The court order applies to Sci-Hub and technical service providers that have a relationship with Sci-Hub, which is consistent with longstanding legal precedent. ACS will now begin enforcement accordingly.

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LIBER signs open letter calling for revised Text and Data Mining (TDM) exception
- 26 Sep 2017

Twenty organisations, including LIBER, have signed an open letter to European lawmakers calling for changes to a proposed Text and Data Mining exception.

Coordinated by the European Alliance for Research Excellence, the letter asks Members of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) in the European Parliament and Deputy Permanent Representatives of the 28 Member States to fix the Text and Data Mining (TDM) exception in the European Commission's proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

If the current proposal for a TDM exception is not revised, the vast majority of the European research and innovation ecosystem will be penalised. Scientists and students will have to pay extra licenses, and small businesses and startups who will stop innovating in Europe due to legal uncertainty.

In addition to signing this open letter, LIBER published its own call for changes to the proposed TDM Exception. The four key points to be addressed: make the TDM exception mandatory and non-overridable; include libraries and all persons with lawful access to content as beneficiaries; allow commercial and non-commercial uses, without compensation; and permit safe storage of copies made for TDM.

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LIBER signs open letter to stop potentially harmful copyright reform
- 08 Sep 2017

LIBER has signed an open letter directed at the EU's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), in an attempt to stop recent EU copyright reform developments which threaten Open Access and Open Science.

In the letter, LIBER and 14 other organisations express particular alarm at the potential impact of Article 11, which relates to Ancillary Copyright, and Article 13, which relates to filtering user-uploaded content, of the draft Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

LIBER is working on many issues related to copyright reform, in order to ensure the best possible outcome for research and knowledge creation.

Article 11 already poses a significant threat to an informed and literate society. Links to news and the use of titles, headlines and fragments of information could now become subject to licensing. Terms could make the last two decades of news less accessible to researchers and the public, leading to a distortion of the public's knowledge and memory of past events. Art. 11 would furthermore place EU law in contravention with the Berne Convention, whose Art. 2(8) excludes news of the day and 'mere items of press information' and 'press summaries' from protection. The extension of this controversial proposal to academic publications, as proposed by the ITRE Committee, significantly worsens an already bad situation, the letter reads.

The letter also explains how Article 13 poses a threat to the accessibility of scientific articles, publications and research data made available through over 1250 repositories managed by European non-profit institutions and academic communities.

LIBER, along with all of the letter's signatories, urges for the removal of these proposals, and also request improvements on proposals related to text and data mining, copyright in an education setting, and preservation and access to works for non-commercial endeavours.

Work on the open letter was led by SPARC Europe, with CESAER, COAR, The Commons Network, Communia Association, Creative Commons, C4C, EBLIDA, EIFL, EUA, Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU, IFLA, LIBER, RLUK and Science Europe all adding their support.

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Major Educational Content Providers in deal with Barnes&Noble Education to combat counterfeit textbooks
- 01 Aug 2017

Educational content providers Cengage, Elsevier, McGraw-Hill Education, and Pearson have announced an agreement with Barnes&Noble Education, Inc. to implement the industry's Anti-Counterfeit Best Practices. The best practices were developed to assist publishers and distributors in combating counterfeits of print textbooks, a growing problem facing the industry.

Sales of counterfeit books are harmful to students, educators, publishers and distributors. The rise of illegal counterfeit materials in the market results in reduced incentives for publishers to invest in new content and technology to improve learning. In addition, distribution of counterfeit materials infringes on the publishers' copyright and trademark rights and ultimately limits royalties due to authors and designers.

Barnes&Noble Education and MBS Textbook Exchange, one of the largest textbooks distributors that was recently acquired by Barnes&Noble Education, joins Ingram and Chegg as distributors working proactively with publishers to reduce the distribution of counterfeit materials.

The best practices outline steps to verify suppliers and avoid illegitimate sources. They require distributors to verify the sources of their textbooks, inspect inventory that has a high risk of being counterfeit and prevent it from infecting their inventory. When a distributor finds counterfeit books, there is agreement to share information about the materials and the supplier with the publishers so they can focus their enforcement efforts on the culprits.

The Anti-Counterfeit Best Practices are available at http://www.stopcounterfeitbooks.com with the goal that all publishers and distributors adopt and implement them as well. The Educational Publishers Enforcement Group (EPEG) is committed to pursuing their legal rights against anyone who is involved or who facilitates the distribution and sale of counterfeit textbooks, as well as those who engage in digital piracy. EPEG is hopeful that the adoption of the Best Practices by Barnes&Noble Education's 1,400 physical and virtual bookstores will prove to have a dramatic effect on the number of counterfeits currently in the marketplace. EPEG is also currently in discussions with other distributors to sign on to the Best Practices as well.

The Publishers worked cooperatively through EPEG to achieve agreement with Barnes&Noble Education on the Best Practices.

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