Recently the appeals committee of the Dutch universities ruled that the subscription contracts between Elsevier and Springer and the universities had to be disclosed. The publishers were given a six week window to bring their appeal to the decision but now Elsevier has declined to do so it stands to reason that full transparency is in sight.
More on the specifics of Elseviers’ OA contracts here.
Elsevier has publicly called the OA deal with the Dutch universities “unique” and has said to want to use this pilot to test the viability of this type of gold open access route. In the battle against disclosing the contracts it previously claimed that the contracts contained sensitive business information and that publicising them would lead to an unfair competitive advantage for other parties. However, except for Springer non of the other publishers protested against disclosure.
In their ruling the Dutch university wide committee tasked with deciding on the issue stated that the transparency of costs made by public institutions trumps the disadvantages of single publishers. This also means that the international academic community now gets to compare the Dutch contracts to the ones being offered to them during the course of on-going negotiations.
Both the price and the conditions of the Dutch contracts might move other consortia to be cautious about the deals they make. A short inventory of ScienceGuide already lays bare significant differences in the current prices of contracts (Dutch overview here) between universities and countries – differences publishers such as Elsevier and Springer will have to account for during negotiations.
As of now it is unknown whether Springer will or will not appeal the decision of the committee. Since their argument before the committee was only heard in private it is not possible to know the exact line of reasoning. The similarities between the ruling of the committee of both cases however indicate a similar approach.
Update July 7th, Springer announces it will also decline from appealing the decision.
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