Elsevier, the publishing company that holds the copyright to thousands of journals that publish hundreds of thousands of articles annually, is one of the most notorious copyright rent-seekers in existence.
The firm makes a healthy 35% profit margin by publishing (and, more importantly, holding the monopoly rights to) works produced by academics. In the past, it has (successfully) sued to take down sci-hub, the underground site that publishes copyright-infringing journal articles. It is also currently litigating against ResearchGate, an online network that allows academics to share their research with others, for copyright infringement.
The journals published by Elsevier also suffer from reduced readership, which is why the editorial board of the Journal of Informetrics (JOI) is taking its business elsewhere. From Lindsay McKenzie in Inside Higher Ed:
The entire editorial board of the Elsevier-owned Journal of Informetrics resigned Thursday in protest over high open-access fees, restricted access to citation data and commercial control of scholarly work…
The editorial board of the Journal of Informetrics said in a statement that they were unanimous in their decision to quit. They contend that scholarly journals should be owned by the scholarly community rather than by commercial publishers, should be open access under fair principles, and publishers should make citation data freely available.
This isn’t the first instance of a journal detaching itself from Elsevier. In 2015, the editorial board of the journal Lingua resigned in protest and created the rival, open-access journal Glossa.
The son of JOI, called Quantitative Science Studies, will be funded:
with some financial support from the MIT Libraries. In order to make all articles open access, the journal will charge an article-processing charge of $600 for ISSI members and $800 for nonmembers — significantly less than the $1,800 Elsevier charged. For researchers without the ability to pay to have their articles be open access, their fees will be covered for three years by the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB).
While this isn’t a death knell for Elsevier, hopefully the exit of such a prominent academic journal will prompt other journals to do the same–or get Elsevier to stop abusing its monopoly rights so egregiously.