Elsevier: "It's illegal to Sci-Hub." Also Elsevier: "We link to Sci-Hub all the time."

Yesterday, I wrote about science publishing profiteer Elsevier's legal threats against Citationsy, in which the company claimed that the mere act of linking to Sci-Hub (an illegal open-access portal) was itself illegal.

You'll never guess what happens next.

Elsevier's own journals turn out to be full of links to Sci-Hub.

It's also not hard to understand this. You see, the researchers who write the papers that Elsevier publishes are scientists, not private-equity-backed looter/profiteers, so they are more interested in science and scholarship than ensuring that Elsevier continues to rake in billions. And since Elsevier doesn't pay for any of the work it publishes, it's hard for them to exert pressure to end this practice.

Now, in theory, the referees, peer reviewers, editorial boards and advisors for each journal could lay down the law on this stuff and ban links -- but they're also all volunteers who are not paid a dime by Elsevier.

The reality is that scholarly publishing corporations contribute virtually nothing to scholarship (that's a peer-reviewed, empirical finding -- not a statement of opinion). Indeed, they are so lax and inattentive, with so much of their efforts focused on rent-seeking, that they don't even notice when they themselves violate their own signature policies.

Clearly, given that this is supposedly a corporate priority, Elsevier do not very seriously check their own site and publications for links to infringing material, despite these endless “lists of what publishers do” that they trot out every time they come in for criticism. Some of these links provide direct hyperlinks to illegally and freely access the work of other publishers and Elsevier seem to be facilitating this.

I would suggest that before throwing stones, Elsevier may wish to get its own glasshouse in order.

Elsevier threatens others for linking to Sci-Hub but does so itself [Martin Paul Eve/Eve]

(Thanks, Martin Eve!)