Why the LinkedIn vs. hiQ case has important consequences for ResearchGate

You should have read https://www.reuters.com/article/us-microsoft-linkedin-ruling-idUSKCN1AU2BV?il=0 before.

tl;dr of the article: LinkedIn is not allowed to block crawling of public marked Data its Users did provide. In this case to a direct competitor.

To explain the relation to ResearchGate: RG is like a LinkedIn for Scientists, and they also collect a big number of public made scientific publications.

So they are in one part also a competitor to hiQ, which could threaten a big part of their business model. (Following public sources, RGs business model relys purely on paid Job postings and Advertisement)

But they also protect the scientific publications they collected, which already caused hard feelings among scientists who are curious and would like to do analyses on them. The ironic part of this is, that one of the sources ResearchGate uses for Publications is crawling. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_crawler)
And no, thats not insider knowledge, they state it at the bottom of the publication page, where they downloaded it from.

Its just a small hint, easy to not notice

Obviously they will not suddenly allow crawling now, but prepare their Lawyers for this case, and they will find a non obvious way to get scientists to mark their content as not-completely-public, so they can avoid being affected by this.

Keep in mind, ResearchGate is a big commercial company with a good number of investors, therefore money is one of the main decision factors.
As soon as Open Access and public availability will stand in its way, they are likely to drop it in favor for money.

Pressure from the outside can help, but for a real change, the change needs to come from within the company. If they feel really serious about making Science open for all, they should change their corporation structure to a Public benefit corporation like Kickstarter did (https://www.kickstarter.com/blog/kickstarter-is-now-a-benefit-corporation)
This will at least give them the legal possibility to care more about science then money.

There will come a follow up Article with more extensively explained reasons, why ResearchGate needs to become a PBC.