A colleague just discovered that an article she published in the BioMed Central journal Epigenetics and Chromatin has been republished, without her knowledge or consent, in a book, Epigenetics, Environment and Genes, 'edited' by Sun Woo Kang and published by Apple Academic Press. You can buy it on Amazon for $104.26 (Can).
On checking the details of the BioMed Central publication agreement, we discovered that this commercial reuse is permitted. It's also permitted by the PLOS One agreement, though that is CC-BY which I think requires that the original publisher be credited as well as the authors.
At first we thought that all the reprinted articles were from open-access journals, but at least one isn't. I've contacted the author of that article to find out if permission was obtained for its republication.
Apple Academic Press sent this reply to an email from the authors:
I am answering the concerns over the reuse of your article in Epigenetic, Environment and Genes book published by AAP.
This book was contracted through "Harding house publishing services" based out of Vestal, New York. The editor and contractor were responsible for the selection of articles in the book and to our knowledge this article was used under Creative commons license. By allowing your article to be printed by open access journal that lists the Creative Commons license, you as the author are agreeing to those conditions. The rationale for doing so would be to allow your work to be distributed in as many ways possible, which is common practice in the world of academic publishing. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0
However, that said, at Apple Academic Press we agree that authors should be notified whenever their work appears in a new publication. It is our current policy to contact all authors before including their work in any of our books. We apologize that this policy had not yet gone into effect when the edition of Epigenetic, Environment and Genes was in production, but we have rectified that now. We would be happy to send you a copy of Epigenetic, Environment and Genes.
I have copied Ellyn Sanna (President and CEO) of Harding House publishing, So that she also gets aware of your concerns. I am sure if you have any more questions, she will be happy to take this further with you.
Also, Our product line is growing rapidly, and we are looking to work with new authors in the STEM subjects. If you have any book concepts for your field (whether originally authored or compilations of recent research), we would be very interested in working with you in that capacity as well. Our authors and editors receive generous royalty contracts.I particularly like their brazen invitation at the end and the offer of 'generous royalty contracts'.
My colleague and her co-authors are outraged; they had no idea that this commercial reuse was permitted by the standard agreements. In principle the authors should have read the fine print, but as advocates of open-access publishing I think the onus is on us to make sure that the copyright agreements are in accord with authors' reasonable expectations and wishes.
At a minimum the open-access journals should inform their authors that unscrupulous publishers are standing ready to exploit their work.
We're not the first to note Apple Academic Press's sleazy work. Read this post written by Mike Taylor a couple of weeks ago, complete with a nasty response from a former employee of the publisher. And this post by Christopher Schadt from a few days before that, which has a long comment thread about who has the rights to do what.