"When Björn Johansson received an email in July 2020 inviting him to speak at
an online debate on COVID-19 modeling, he didn’t think twice. “I was interested
in the topic and I agreed to participate,” says Johansson, a medical doctor and
researcher at the Karolinska Institute. “I thought it was going to be an
ordinary academic seminar. It was an easy decision for me.”
Three years later, Johansson has come to regret that decision. The Polish
company behind the conference, Villa Europa, claims he still owes them fees for
taking part, and is seeking payment through a Swedish court. After adding legal
costs and interest to the bill, the company is demanding a whopping €80,000.
Johansson isn’t alone. Dozens of researchers participated in the same series of
online conferences on COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 and many have received demands
for payment from Villa Europa. At least five are being pursued through courts
in their own countries for fees of tens of thousands of euros, although several
researchers are fighting back.
But the case is peppered with puzzling circumstances. In court filings and
interviews, the researchers say the demands are illegitimate and based on
deceptive license agreements. Little is known about the individuals who
organized the conferences. And many of the demands hinge on the ruling of a
Polish arbitration court whose very existence has been questioned by experts in
This is a really shameful scam.
Via Dave Farber.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics