Emerald Group Publishing Limited’s Use of the Attributor Anti-Piracy Service

In "Thanks but No Thanks Emerald," Kristin Eschenfelder reproduces and discusses a letter that she received from the Emerald Group Publishing Limited. In short, this letter says that Emerald is expanding it's use of Attributor to detect copyright violations from "cyberlockers" to "the full breadth of the internet," and it requests the URLs for her personal, institutional, and corporate websites so that they can be excluded from Attributor searches and its "legally-binding takedown notices."

Will this expanded use of Attributor affect self-archiving of articles from Emerald journals?

Emerald's publication policies are detailed in its Authors' Charter and its Review Copyright Assignment Form. Emerald requires that authors assign their article copyrights to Emerald as a condition of publication.

The Authors' Charter states that (I have added italics in certain places in the below quotes):

Authors are not required to seek Emerald's permission to re-use their own work. As an author with Emerald you can use your paper in part or in full, including figures and tables if you want to do so in a book, in another article written for us or another publisher, on your website, or any other use, without asking us first.

It further states that:

It does NOT, in any way, restrict your right or academic freedom to contribute to the wider distribution and readership of your work. This includes the right to: . . . .

2. Reproduce your own version of your article, including peer review/editorial changes, in another journal, as content in a book of which you are the author, in a thesis, dissertation or in any other record of study, in print or electronic format as required by your university or for your own career development.

3. Deposit an electronic copy of your own final version of your article, pre- or post-print, on your own or institutional website. The electronic copy cannot be deposited at the stage of acceptance by the Editor.

Authors are requested to cite the original publication source of their work and link to the published version — but are NOT required to seek Emerald's permission with regard to the personal re-use of their work as described above. Emerald never charges its authors for re-use of any of their own published works. Emerald does not allow systematic archiving of works by third parties into an institutional or subject repository.

The Review Copyright Assignment Form says:

This assignment of copyright to Emerald Group Publishing Limited is done so on the understanding that permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited is not required for me/us to reproduce, republish or distribute copies of the Work in whole or in part.

Given the above, it would appear that the author can: (1) self-archive an article on his or her personal website, (2) self-archive an article in his or her institutional repository, and (3) self-archive an article in a subject archive (the restriction is for “systematic archiving of works by third parties,” not self-archiving). Institutional repository staff or subject repository staff cannot archive articles for authors.

If this is not correct, it would be helpful to hear from Emerald what its interpretation of these documents is.

Unlike the RIAA and the MPAA, scholarly journal publishers have a limited primary customer base—academic libraries. Moreover, academic librarians are authors as well as customers, and, for some publishers, they are a significant subset of their authors. The endless serials crisis has already seriously strained relations between academic librarians and publishers. Hopefully, scholarly journal publishers will be sensible and sensitive to customer concerns in their attempts to cope with difficult digital copyright issues.

[See Emerald's reply in the comments.]

2 thoughts on “Emerald Group Publishing Limited’s Use of the Attributor Anti-Piracy Service”

  1. As the Rights Manager at Emerald Group Publishing, I would like to reassure readers that Emerald is a RoMEO Green publisher and our agreement with Attributor does not affect our policy to allow authors to post either the pre-print (prior to peer review) or post-print (after peer review) versions of their article/manuscript on their own institutional or personal website. We request that authors continue to use their own versions and not the Emerald branded version.

    The reason for our letter to authors was due to a change in the way that Attributor identifies pirate copies of books and journals. They have now expanded their service to include an internet-wide search functionality as well as known problem sites. As we are RoMeo Green, we felt we needed to alert authors, who have legitimately uploaded their own pre- or post-print version of a paper to their own institutional or personal website, that they might be sent an automated take-down notice in error. By requesting authors to provide Emerald with the locations of their own versions, we can be sure that when Attributor’s search engines pick up the articles (Attributor’s service works on a word association basis), a take down notice is not sent in error.

    Emerald continues to support its liberal author charter (http://www.emeraldinsight.com/authors/writing/charter.htm), as well as the RoMeo Green status. In addition, we have various awards and grants that we offer to authors to help them fund their research and support and further their careers.

    I very much hope that this has explained our position and intentions behind working with Attributor.

    Kind regards.

  2. Thank you for your helpful reply. You did not mention subject repositories. Could you clarify Emerald’s position on authors self-archiving in subject repositories, such as E-LIS (a library science repository). As noted in the posting, the only restriction appears to be for “systematic archiving of works by third parties into an institutional or subject repository.”

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