I know that some publishers sometimes send copyright infringement emails to researchers putting their articles on a personal website. How often do publishers actually sue researchers for copyright infringement for putting their articles on a personal website? (assuming the authors didn't have the legal right to do so)

I am mostly interested in United States-based authors, but I am curious about other countries as well.

  • 1
    There have been cases where publishers have demanded that papers be taken down using the process of "take down" notifications under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. In general, this is a very effective way of getting a paper removed from the web- it's much less costly than filing a law suit. Aug 21, 2015 at 16:54
  • (originally posted on openscience.stackexchange.com/q/122/3) Aug 21, 2015 at 16:57
  • Authors generally believe they have the legal right, and publishers generally believe that authors don't. Whether or not a person has a putative right is decided in court. So your question with that "didn't have the legal right" clause reduces the potential case pool to cases where the publisher actually prevailed in the suit. I believe the number of cases is zero, but I may have missed something.
    – user6726
    Aug 21, 2015 at 17:25
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    I don't think sending emails emails to authors is commonly practiced and I have not heard of anyone suing authors either. As far as I know, most publishers are OK with an author uploading his/her pre-Camera Ready papers to a personal webpage. Also, see this other related question: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/9698/….
    – cabad
    Aug 21, 2015 at 17:29
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    see this piece about the use of take-down notices to get papers pulled off the web: chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/… Aug 21, 2015 at 18:38

1 Answer 1


I have never heard of an individual scientist being sued for posting a few articles online (large-scale systematic activity is a different story). So far, unlike the music and movie industries, scientific publishers appear to have simply not found it worth the cost in resources and community relations to do so (though they've been quite comfortable suing organizations on occasion).

If a scientist decided to resist a takedown order, however, it seems possible that a journal might feel forced to make an example of them.

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