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Elsevier Takedown Advisory (January 2014)

Elsevier Takedowns
Scholarly Communication Advisory
January 2014

You may have heard that Elsevier has sent “takedown requests” to and some universities. To clarify, these are researchers who are posting their Elsevier-published papers on academic social networking sites, their personal websites, and their department or lab websites.  

Elsevier used a copyright takedown process – the same way copyright holders get videos taken down from YouTube.  Unfortunately, when authors give publishers like Elsevier the copyrights to their papers, they give away their rights to post their papers on websites like,, Mendeley (which is now owned by Elsevier), and even their own websites.  

What you can do: 

* If this happens to you, please let us know. We can help you review your original author contract to help you understand your rights, and to explore other options if necessary.  You may be able to replace the final published paper with a peer-reviewed pre-print. 

* Going forward, we encourage you to negotiate your author publication agreements, either by editing the contract or by appending a standard authors' rights addendum, such as ARL's SPARC Addendum.  See

* Institutional repositories like ScholarWorks@UMassAmherst provide more legal flexibility. Even if you don’t have copyright and your publisher doesn't permit posting on commercial social networking sites like, you may have the right to post your material at ScholarWorks. 

* If you're interested in talking with us about options for you individually, or your department, please let us know. We're always happy to meet with faculty to talk about the legal and access issues around publishing and sustainability. 

More information: 

Chronicle of Higher Education, 

* The original post that broke the news:  (including the response from

* Elsevier statement:

* responded with a link to an academic petition protesting Elsevier’s business practices, and urging a boycott in submissions and editorial work:

Scholarly Communication Office
University Libraries

Marilyn Billings
          Laura Quilter
               Charlotte Roh


Last Edited: 23 May 2014