“Researchers are protesting orders from the American Psychological Association to remove links to papers from their websites.”
Multiple researchers took to Twitter recently to lament the takedown notices they’ve received from the APA; one posted the letter in place of the link to his paper. According to the APA, the letters are part of a pilot program to “monitor and seek removal of unauthorized online postings of APA journal articles.”
The notices cite misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which enables internet users to protect their own content. But it can be heavily abused by people who file false copyright infringement claims to remove content they don’t like from the internet. (We have even been the target of such attempts.)
As a reminder, authors of articles published by APA are able to post the final accepted, pre-formatted versions of their articles on their personal websites, university repositories, and author networking sites (see Internet Posting Guidelines here: http://www.apa.org/pubs/authors/posting.aspx)…It has come to our attention that final, formatted versions (i.e., versions of record) have been posted on your website, and request that you take them down. Authors may replace them with the final accepted manuscript versions, including the required note linking to the version of record (as outlined in the Internet Posting Guidelines). Doing so allows APA to preserve the scientific integrity of the research, as finding the final version of record through the APA PsycARTICLES database connects the article with any ensuing commentaries, corrections, and potential retractions; it also connects the version of record to related content and citation information.
The letter concludes:
APA appreciates your anticipated cooperation.
Daw’s paper “Reduced model-based decision-making in schizophrenia” was published last year in APA’s Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
Daw told us he received the notice yesterday (as did his wife, who is also a psychologist):
I have always understood that we sign copyright on our articles over to the journals, for free, which is in principle pretty egregious (especially since we actually pay fees to publish them, and do service like peer reviewing for the journals for free), and ostensibly retain only particular, limited rights to re-distribute them, but this has never especially concerned me because I have never really seen them attempting to exercise the copyright against us. I think there has been a sort of quiet tolerance of us infringing the copyright to share our articles with each other, presumably because if they were to press the issue it would highlight how ridiculous the situation is.
So anyway although I have for my whole career maintained a web site full of my articles, probably many technically infringing — as do most of my peers — I have never before yesterday received any pushback or heard that anyone has. So it’s shocking, and especially shocking that it would come from the APA which is supposed to be a nonprofit and a professional society advancing science, rather than the more cavalier for-profit publishers. It seems profoundly anti-science.
Daw said he plans to “cease providing free labor” to the APA, including peer reviewing submissions, and “encourage my colleagues also to do so. ”
An APA spokesperson told us:
Digimarc, under contract with the American Psychological Association, has been sending takedown notices since February as part of a pilot program to monitor and curtail unauthorized posting of APA journal articles on the internet. For the first 17 weeks of the pilot, takedown notices targeted five APA journals, In the past week, we moved into Phase 2 of the pilot, in which the takedown notices were expanded to all 29 of APA’s official journals.
The takedown notices went primarily to online file-sharing/piracy websites, many with malicious intent. However, notices also went to such sites as researchgate.net and academia.edu, as well as to about 80 university websites found to be violating our posting guidelines.
She said they’ve sent 12,460 letters to piracy sites and 349 to academic institutions so far, adding:
Our internet posting guidelines specify that authors are free to post the final accepted, pre-formatted versions of their articles — the accepted manuscript — on their personal websites, university repositories, and author networking sites without an embargo. APA welcomes and encourages such sharing of scientific research by APA authors. However, any posted manuscripts must include a note linking to the final published article, the authoritative document.
According to the APA, the pilot program is designed to:
-[preserve] the scientific integrity of the research we publish, including linking the authoritative document with any ensuing corrections or retractions so that readers have the most updated information;
-[minimize] security threats to authors and readers by providing a secure web environment to access APA content;
-[make] APA resources available for free or at low cost in low- and middle-income countries through the World Health Organization’s HINARI/Research 4 Life initiative; and
-[maintain] association funds to support APA’s mission to create, communicate, and apply psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.
After a deluge of protests from researchers who received notices from the American Psychological Association (APA) to remove papers from their websites, the publisher announced it will shift its focus to commercial sites.
That program has now taken a bit of a turn. In a release yesterday, the APA says that:
…it is targeting online piracy websites and not individual authors in its efforts to curtail the unauthorized sharing on the internet of articles published in the association’s journals.
It included a statement from APA Executive Publisher Jasper Simons:
We regret that our recent takedown messages upset some of our authors, who are not the target of the program. Our goal remains to preserve the integrity of the scholarly record and stop the illegal sharing of content on piracy sites. We support the non-commercial sharing of content by our authors in line with our posting guidelines.
A spokesperson told us the program will now focus on sites that commercially republish papers from APA journals without permission, not non-commercial academic websites that host final versions of papers.
As of Wednesday, the publisher had sent takedown letters — citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which enables internet users to protect their own content — to nearly 350 academic institutions (and 12,460 letters to piracy sites).
The spokesperson told us the APA doesn’t plan to send any more letters to academic websites “at this time.” But the publisher is still discussing whether to rescind the takedown notices academic sites have already received:
We’re still trying to figure that out. It’s important for us to protect our copyright, so we need to weigh the various factors.
Yesterday’s release reiterates the APA’s rules about reposting papers:
Under APA’s publishing guidelines, authors are free to post the final accepted, preformatted versions of their articles — the accepted manuscript — on their personal websites, university repositories and author networking sites without an embargo. However, any posted manuscripts must include a note linking to the final published article, the authoritative document.