Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, January 15, 2010

Is Mendeley heading for copyright trouble?

David Crotty, Going Legit: The Difficult Path from Piracy to Partnership, The Scholarly Kitchen, January 13, 2010.

... Mendeley [is] the current market leader for potential filesharing of scholarly papers and materials. ... The problem is that they’ve built filesharing into their system with little to no oversight over copyright infringement. Since Mendeley claims it has 8 million research papers uploaded to its site, if you’re a scholarly publisher, it’s likely that your copyrighted material is already hosted on their servers.

I first met with representatives from Mendeley back in late 2008, and was fairly stunned at their apparent naïveté towards copyright law and the legal precedents that had been set in cases involving music sites (particularly since one of their major backers is the founder of Last.FM). Their FAQ and terms of service at the time were clearly offering the sorts of infringement inducements that got Grokster in so much legal trouble, and after some correspondence with Victor Henning, Mendeley changed the language on these pages to better reflect copyright law and leave the company some hope of a safe harbor defense. The big problem they still haven’t resolved is the fact that all uploading and downloading takes place through the company’s servers. ... Mendeley not only connects users through their servers but actually hosts and redistributes the potentially infringing files. ...