India's OMICS Publishing Group threatens scholarly critic with $1 billion lawsuit, jail time

OMICS Publishing Group, an Indian scholarly publisher has threatened to sue one of its critics, Metadata librarian Jeffrey Beall, for $1 billion, and has threatened him with prison time over posts he made to his prominent Scholarly Open Access site. OMICS cites India's terrible Information Technology Act as the basis for its threats. However, it seems unlikely that Beall would be extradited to India even if OMICS makes good on its threats, and unless he has assets in India, they'll have a hard time collecting on any judgment.

Today The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a less amusing letter Beall received Tuesday. An Indian intellectual property management firm called IP Markets informed Beall that they would be suing for $1 billion in damages and that he could face up to three years in prison for his "deliberate attempt to defame our client." That client is OMICS Publishing Group, an India-based operation profiled several times on the blog. The group requested that Beall remove the posts and e-mail updates to anyone who published his work, yet IP Markets still intends to go through with the suit either way.

"All the allegation [sic] that you have mentioned in your blog are nothing more than fantastic figment of your imagination by you," the six-page letter reads according to The Chronicle. "Our client perceive the blog as mindless rattle of a incoherent person and please be assured that our client has taken a very serious note of the language, tone, and tenure adopted by you as well as the criminal acts of putting the same on the Internet."

I know nothing about OMICS's publishing practices, but based on how they handle their critics, I feel confident in saying that they're not the sort of firm that any scholar should be doing business with -- censoring, terrible bullies don't make good publishers.

Blogger writes about predatory publishing, is threatened with $1B suit


    1. Given that about 1,000 people own the entire Indian economy, it’s not surprising that you could get a prison term for upsetting them.

      1.  I dunno, don’t about 837 people own the US economy?  What are WE gonna get if we ever piss THEM off? 

          1. In every imaginable way.  My metaphor for it is that it is not just fucked up, it’s fractally fucked up.  That is to say, you could examine any particular part of the situation that’s fucked up, and find endlessly ramifying layers of fucked up underneath it.   (Please note that this is not a comment on Indian people, as there are lots of really great people over there, trapped in this utterly fucked up situation.)  It’s easy to sit here and hate on America, but if you’ve never been there, you have no idea. (this last in response to Jake, not Antinous.)

          2. If you eat in restaurants that cater to Western tourists and the wealthy.

      2.  The Indian Parliament itself has around 800 MPs. That doesn’t leave nearly enough much space for the billionaires – both legal and illegal.

        1. The Indian Parliament itself has around 800 MPs.

          Not sure what MPs have to due with running the government, let alone the economy, which is what I actually said. The economy is run by the wealthy, who then purchase laws that favor them. Of course, that’s universal.

          FYI – India is run by “families” not individuals.

          And those families are often run by individuals. It’s a strongly patriarchal society.

  1. The US SPEECH Act should give adequate protection here. I don’t see any chance that they could enforce a judgement in the US. And since the US doesn’t have a federal criminal libel law*, there shouldn’t be even a possibility of extradition.

    * If I recall correctly, federal courts have jurisdiction in cases between US citizens and foreign citizens. So even though Colorado has a criminal libel law (which looks unconstitutional to me), it shouldn’t come into play.

    1. Indian courts would never award $1 billion in payouts in the first place, such monetary compensation is not considered just and equitable in the eyes of the law. 

      A worse scenario would be getting sued in the USA. Defamation is criminal in 19 states in the US of A and even though there are no “Federal Laws”, this IP Law firm can sue in a US Court as it “impunes” OMICS ability to conduct business or trade and THAT if proven is Criminal.

  2. Any person, corporation, religion or country that cannot take being criticized is not much of a person, corporation, religion or country. How pitiful.

    1.  Criticism that is unfounded and defames a corporation, person, religion or country adversely affecting its ability to carry out its normal activity is criminal and must not be tolerated. Free Speech is not a license to slander.

      1. Your leap from ‘criticism’ to ‘criticism that is unfounded’ is rhetorically pragmatic; but obfuscates a central point(and a notable difference between the applicable laws of some classes of jurisidictions).

        Criminalization of criticism per se is the mark of authoritarian, butthurt, troglodytes who must be extirpated wherever possible.

        Criminalization merely of false and defamatory statements is treading a fine line, and must be approached with some caution; but is reasonably common even in jurisdictions with some semblance of human rights.

  3. Read the blog posts that started the lawsuit!

    They have fake conferences and fake journals. They advertise via spam, they charge authors to publish their work by sending them invoices for exorbitant author fees, without telling them they exist till after work is submitted.

    In the comments on that blog post I found this most disturbing – the idea these aren’t just internet scammers, but are representative of business as usual in India…

    lem says:

    May 17, 2013 at 4:21 AM

    As an Indian living in India and being inundated by such practices
    everyday, I must say it’s funny to see a foreigner’s perspective on it.
    The sad part is that even today, the system enforces such ethics into
    people. Even when you’re trying to do simple things like lab reports by
    yourself instead of copying it off of previously made reports like
    everyone else, it goes totally unappreciated. Slowly most kids start
    having this mentality that the “end” is the only thing, means are
    unimportant. Sadly a lot of these “ends” aren’t good either.

      1. Though it also provides further evidence of how legally groundless their attempt is:

        The post itself is documentation and analysis of their malfeasance(and so trivially protected as truthful criticism and commentary unless these guys have a real bombshell concerning its falsity) and anything in the comments is not the blog operator’s problem, per section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. (Given that the comments purport to be truthful, and somewhat rueful, reports from India, by Indians, it isn’t clear that they would amount to anything legally culpable anyway; but section 230 basically makes cleaning up your comments section something you do only because it annoys you or the community you care about.)

  4. “Our client perceive the blog as mindless rattle of a incoherent person
    and please be assured that our client has taken a very serious note of
    the language, tone, and tenure adopted by you as well as the criminal
    acts of putting the same on the Internet.”

    So… they plan to take down the whole Internet?

  5. I know I’m being a snob and probably a culturalist one too, but, really; a legal firm that doesn’t check its grammar and spelling? How does one adopt a “tenure”? Do you have to keep repeatedly making the same accusations; making it your life time’s work?

      1.  I’ve seen plenty of similar badly written stuff out of American lawyers who were born and bred to write English.

        (And police reports too…there’s a strain in cops that think their reports should read like a legal brief on TV…some of them are hysterical.  I used to work with a Special Agent in (xyz) agency who had a masters in criminal justice but wrote like a fifth grader

  6. Our client responds to the blog in the meaningless rattle of an incoherent person


  7. As much as I hate what this company is doing, I must admit that the tone and “tenure” of some commenters here is downright abhorrent. I shall, therefore, do the needful(!) and term you racists and bigots. Commenting about the vile tactics adopted by this company, or about free speech, or even about the grammar is par for the course. Talking about culture, the country, or widening the scope of this discussion borders on pure hatred for a certain set of people. 

  8. The way we have turned research into demonstrating individual productivity through producing as much intellectual property as possible for the great academic link farms  is both a bastardization of scholarship, betraying what it’s for (common good, not individual aggrandizement) and the original get-rich-on-donated labor scheme. That’s what caused this situation. It’s a privatization of knowledge that’s turning into a “free! donate your labor here and reach a wider audience!” scheme. 

    You can tell good open access publishing by simply seeing if the sustainability model is based on the idea of a commons (common good) or if its based on the Facebook Silicon valley idea of freedom (a new way to monetize culture).  It’s not that hard to tell the difference if you get your head out of the “what’s in it for me” place. 

  9. Here’s what I don’t get – either it’s “ramblings of an incoherent person” OR it’s something to be taken seriously as they claim they do.  The first is dismissive and the second is not – but if you took those statements into court, a judge might just dismiss the case because the complainant can’t make up their mind.

Comments are closed.