Here is a bit more juice on the Elsevier Academia.edu entanglement.
Tom Reller, Elsevier’s vice president for global corporate relations, said via email that the publisher “does issue takedown notices from time to time when the final version of the published journal articles has been, often inadvertently, posted. However, there are many other good options for authors who want to share their article. We aim to ensure that the final published version of an article is readily discoverable and citable via the journal itself in order to maximize the usage metrics and credit for our authors, and to protect the quality and integrity of the scientific record. The formal publications on our platforms also give researchers better tools and links, for example to data.”
All in all there are four observations that can be drawn from this:
- It had to happen sometime: publishers don't let you sign copyright agreements for nothing. Platforms like Academia.edu or ResearchGate pose a real threats to their "business models". And once it is accepted policy that every researcher posts her materials on such a platform no one would see a reason to buy a paper anymore. That would be great in a sense of access, but then again access really isn't the publishers' main concern.
- They sell you open access: If all articles would be available online people would stop to pay publishers for there ridiculously overpriced open access options.
- This will very likely continue: As said before there are a few platforms out there making research articles available to the community. My personal guess is that we will hear from ResearchGate next.
- You live freely if you haven't a reputation to lose: Elsevier really has nothing to lose. They already established themselves as the researchers' ultimate antagonist. Meanwhile, in many fields they still own leading journals that researchers simply won't stop publishing in. So in this position what would they gain from playing nice?