Intellectual Property: Combatting Digital Piracy

Copyright symbolPart of Elsevier’s job as a publisher is to promote the widest possible use of our authors’ books, while ensuring high-quality customer experiences with Elsevier-published content. In these and other ways, we aim to maintain and enhance the reputations and reach of the authors whose works we publish.

While the Internet has enabled route to market and content uses in ways undreamed of just a decade ago, maximizing legitimate sales and ensuring smooth online experiences can be challenging in the face of unauthorized duplication and distribution, including deliberate piracy. It’s a core concern, and one we take seriously. Here are some ways in which Elsevier responds to the problem of copyright violations on the Internet.

Internet takedown programs

Elsevier partners with a technology vendor to continuously search the Internet for unauthorized posting of our book and journal content. In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), we issue “takedown” notices to the operators of websites hosting such unauthorized content. To complement this automated searching, Elsevier maintains online tools for staff to report an infringed work. Our partner then works to expedite reporting, investigation, and removal of specific infringing content. If you discover, or learn about pirated content online, don’t hesitate to let your contact at Elsevier know about it; he or she can use our internal systems to make sure the problem is quickly addressed.


In certain situations, Elsevier files civil lawsuits, pursues criminal prosecutions, and engages in administrative actions globally against businesses, websites, and their operators who copy or distribute infringing content, or who enable others to do the same. Our legal efforts are not focused solely on Internet-based infringement though; they also address distributors who violate rights restrictions by improperly importing and exporting books, as well as sellers of counterfeit books.


Elsevier maintains leadership positions in committees of several trade associations—including the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the International Publishers Association (IPA), the Science, Technical and Medical Publishers Association, and others—making sure copyright protection and enforcement remains near the top of these organizations’ agendas. Aided by our efforts, members of these groups have cooperated to take legal action against some of the biggest infringing websites around the globe.


High-level advocacy

We know that as the Internet sees gains in speed, numbers of users, and geographic reach, our current methods of copyright protection will need to evolve as well. That’s why, in March, we testified before the United States Congress in a hearing regarding the federal law (DMCA) created to address online infringement. Our counsel informed the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet that the current method of issuing takedown notices to infringing websites is in need of reform, and urged Congress to foster cooperation between publishers and website operators to use carefully calibrated filtering methods to identify and reject infringing content uploaded by their users. To address infringing websites unresponsive to takedown notices or filtering requirements, we suggested best practices and judicial action that would prohibit third parties, such as payment processing and ad services, from supporting them.

These are just some of the ways in which Elsevier strives to protect the integrity of our authors’ work.

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