Following outcry, American Psychological Association “refocuses” takedown notice program

After a deluge of protests from researchers who received notices from the American Psychological Association (APA) to remove papers from their websites, the publisher announced it will shift its focus to commercial sites.

Earlier this week, researchers took to Twitter to lament the takedown notices they had received from the APA; one posted the letter in place of his paper. The letters were part of a pilot program by the APA to remove “unauthorized online postings of APA journal articles.”

That program has now taken a bit of a turn. In a release yesterday, the APA says that:

…it is targeting online piracy websites and not individual authors in its efforts to curtail the unauthorized sharing on the internet of articles published in the association’s journals.

It included a statement from APA Executive Publisher Jasper Simons:

We regret that our recent takedown messages upset some of our authors, who are not the target of the program. Our goal remains to preserve the integrity of the scholarly record and stop the illegal sharing of content on piracy sites. We support the non-commercial sharing of content by our authors in line with our posting guidelines.

A spokesperson told us the program will now focus on sites that commercially republish papers from APA journals without permission, not non-commercial academic websites that host final versions of papers.

As of Wednesday, the publisher had sent takedown letters — citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which enables internet users to protect their own content — to nearly 350 academic institutions (and 12,460 letters to piracy sites).

The spokesperson told us the APA doesn’t plan to send any more letters to academic websites “at this time.” But the publisher is still discussing whether to rescind the takedown notices academic sites have already received:

We’re still trying to figure that out. It’s important for us to protect our copyright, so we need to weigh the various factors.

Yesterday’s release reiterates the APA’s rules about reposting papers:

Under APA’s publishing guidelines, authors are free to post the final accepted, preformatted versions of their articles — the accepted manuscript — on their personal websites, university repositories and author networking sites without an embargo. However, any posted manuscripts must include a note linking to the final published article, the authoritative document.

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One thought on “Following outcry, American Psychological Association “refocuses” takedown notice program”

  1. I find it surprising that the APA have not rescinded the existing notices, given that they say that they regret causing upset to “our authors, who are not the target of the program” and that they want to target “piracy websites not individual authors”.

    If the authors are not the targets, surely all author-targeted notices should be cancelled?

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