Elsevier’s French TDM licence conditions

There ‘s a very useful blog post http://scoms.hypotheses.org/276 on Elsevier’s content-mining conditions in France. I assume this is layered on the recent French five-year mega-deal with Elsevier.  My school French isn’t good enough for technico-legal terms, so I cannot comment authoritatively (and I’m not sure whether G**gl* translate is better).


This is only one clause and there are others that matter. It looks fairly similar to what Gemma Hersh and Chris Shillum pushed at us last month. Reading the rest of the blog post (which doesn’t contain the whole contract, but only snippets – maybe that’s all you are allowed to read)  it appears:

  • That mining has to take place through the Elsevier API.
  • That non-API crawling/scraping of the website is forbidden.
  • That there are significant restrictions on the re-use of mined material.

Since I and others have highlighted the unacceptability of Elsevier contracts (they change every month, they have unacceptable restrictions (must not disadvantage Elsevier business), are internally inconsistent and unclear) I hope very much that the French authorities signing this were aware of all the problems.

I’d be grateful for an expert view on what is contained and it would be very useful to have a reasonably precise legal translation….

If anyone or any country is about to sign an agreement with any publisher that contains any mention of mining crawling spidering extraction APIs then:




Because otherwise you are likely to betray the trust of 5 years of researchers.



from Fric_Adèle.

Pardon my French, but yours is indeed not subtle enough ;-)
My pleasure to help.

You missed the most important word of the document : “notamment”, standing for “not least”.
It means that the API is one of the way to perform TDM, not the only way.
Fairly interesting, isn’t it ?

Moreover, in the next section about forbidden uses you can read :
“A l’exception de ce qui est expressément prévu dans le présent Contrat ou autorisé par écrit par Elsevier, l’Abonné et ses Utilisateurs Autorisés ne peuvent pas :
– utiliser des robots ou programmes de téléchargement automatisé destinés à, de façon continue et automatique, extraire l’intégralité ou une partie substantielle des Produits Souscrits (sauf exception autorisée pour le TDM) ou destinés à perturber le fonctionnement des Produits Souscrits”
So, another tweak in Elsevier practices : crawling/scraping is forbidden in general EXCEPT for TDM purposes.
TDM is considered as an exception to what is generally forbidden.

To be more precise : this document is the license between Elsevier and each institution. It is an appendix of the general contract, in which the TDM is allowed as follows – you can again read the word “notamment” :
“6.6 Data et text mining
Tous les contenus accessibles et souscrits sur la plateforme du Titulaire dans le cadre de cet accord seront utilisables à des fins de data et text mining notamment via une interrogation des données par une API connectée à la plateforme ScienceDirect®, conformément aux stipulations du Contrat de Licence.”

which you can translate by :
“All content accessible and subscribed through the agreement can be used for TDM purposes, not least using an API connected to ScienceDirect Platform, in compliance with the Licence Agreement.”

All the best,



Thank you so much.

This reinforces the idea that Elsevier contracts change with the phases of the moon… Now any authorised user can carry out TDM either with Elsevier’s API or without it. And that robots can only be used for TDM.

TDM is the common phrase in the UK for “data analytics” (Hargreaves legislation). I can’t think of many reasons for using robots that wouldn’t be classified as data analytics. Indexing, classifcation, usage – these are all data analytics in my understanding. Most non-mining activities would relate to storage and transformation and here the restrictions come from copyright and agreements, not whether robots are used to collect the material.

But maybe I’ll be enlightened?


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Scotland's (main, but not only) #OpenScience #OpenAccess #OpenData #OpenSource #OpenKnowledge & #PatientAdvocate Loves blogging http://figshare.com/blog Glasgow, Scotland.

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