The University of California was paying Elsevier $10-million per year to access academic journals filled with publicly funded research that Elsevier paid nothing towards the cost of researching.

The academic journal publishing racket has had a good run blocking public access to knowledge, and charging institutions billions of dollars in rent to access academic journals.

University of California released the decision in a press release:

“Make no mistake: The prices of scientific journals now are so high that  not a single university in the U.S. — not the University of California,  not Harvard, no institution — can afford to subscribe to them all,”  said Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, university librarian and economics professor  at UC Berkeley, and co-chair of UC’s negotiation team. “Publishing our  scholarship behind a paywall deprives people of the access to and  benefits of publicly funded research. That is terrible for society.”

As one of the world's largest university systems, UC has a great deal of leverage and ability to make open access standard practice for public universities.

Elsevier is the largest scholarly publisher in the world, disseminating  about 18 percent of journal articles produced by UC faculty

Elsevier's business model will be severely damaged, if not outright destroyed, if it does not reach a new agreement with UC. UC wants Elsevier to drop its paywall for published UC research.

We'll see what happens next, UC has all the cards, and they've placed a strong hand on the table with today's announcement.