“There are no slam dunk legal provisions that can change the situation. Several creative legal and policy arguments have been proposed – from fair dealing rights, amendments to compulsory licensing provisions to better government funding. The publishers too have very strong arguments to support their case of copyright infringement. The legal battle between the ‘greedy’ publishers and the ‘rouge’ websites has been going on for more than a year. While legal clarity on the copyright front will take its own time, a significant regulator that should take interest in this vital market is the Competition Commission of India (CCI)….”
Large segments of the scholarly literature, both from backlist catalogues and new publications, continue to be only accessible behind paywall infrastructures. This poses a challenge to those scholars not affiliated with well funded research institutions, in particular in the Global South, exacerbating extant inequities. At the same time, the often cumbersome user interfaces of paywall-protected platforms continue to prevent efficient usage by researchers who do happen to have access to these materials. As a result, an ecosystem of so-called “shadow libraries” has evolved, developing different strategies to make closed content accessible to a wide scholarly public. Contrary to for example the music and movie industries, the academic publishing industry has been unable to formulate a platform solution that would provide an alternative. This OASPA webinar will address the origins and architecture of these forms of widely used online repositories, their position in relation to Open Access policies, legal aspects in terms of copyright and fair use, and what they can teach us in terms of accessibility. The webinar will be chaired by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei (punctum books) and we welcome panelists Arul George Scaria (National Law University Delhi), Martin Paul Eve (Birkbeck), Marcell Mars (Memory of the World, Pirate Care) and Balász Bodó (University of Amsterdam). Please join us live for this free webinar and contribute to the discussion and please share within your networks.
“When legality trumps ethics it is society’s loss. A court case in India, pitting the upstart pirate websites Sci-Hub and Libgen (Library Genesis) against the global giants of peer-reviewed publishing, should help decide a critical issue: whether scientific information should be available only for a fee, or available free to citizens who are already funding it with their tax money and to the rest of the world….
Piracy is not a moral failure, Liang says; it is a market failure. You can’t stop piracy through legal decisions or technological control. “The only way that you can win over piracy is through market correction.” ”
“Some countries have declared the website to be illegal, while others have not. The issue is further complicated by the fact that many of the articles that are available on Sci-Hub are copyrighted. This means that even if the platform is legal in a particular country, downloading copyrighted materials from them may still be illegal….”
Abstract: Background Since Alexandra Elbanyan founded Sci-Hub in 2011, the website has been used by a growing number of researchers worldwide. Sci-Hub is a so-called shadow library or guerrilla open access format bypassing publishers’ paywalls, giving everyone free access to scientific papers. Until today, there have been no publications about usage by orthopaedic and trauma surgeons of Sci-Hub or other “pirate sites” and how it may influence their work.
Materials and Methods Orthopaedic and trauma surgeons of four university hospitals in Germany and Europe were consulted using a standardised questionnaire containing multiple items about the use and evaluation of Sci-Hub. In addition, the Medline and Cochrane databases were screened for all studies related to Sci-Hub. Two reviewers independently reviewed all articles and the references of these articles.
Results Of all orthopaedic surgeons consulted, 69% knew of Sci-Hub and 66.7% used it on a regular basis. Of the younger participants (< 45 years old), 77% knew the webpage, while only 25% of older participants (> 45 years old) knew the webpage. Ninety percent found the quality of their citation and research had been enhanced since using Sci-Hub. On a scale of 1 to 10, user-friendliness was rated with a mean rating of 7.58 (95% CI: 7.262–7.891). Ethical or legal concerns among users seem mixed. On a scale of 1 (no concerns) to 5 (many concerns), the mean score was 2.39 (95% CI: 2.154–2.615). Of doctors using Sci-Hub, 89% would recommend it to other colleagues.
Conclusion The quality and number of articles in Sci-Hub is outstanding, and the rate of young researchers using the website is high. The most important shift in literature research for decades is a phenomenon mostly used by young researchers and is not the subject of current research itself. Sci-Hub may have already changed how orthopaedic research works.
“Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan says that following a legal process, the Federal Bureau of Investigations has gained access to data in her Google account. Google itself informed her of the data release this week noting that due to a court order, the company wasn’t allowed to inform her sooner….
In an email to Elbakyan dated March 2, 2022, Google advises that following a legal process issued by the FBI, Google was required to hand over data associated with Elbakyan’s account. Exactly what data was targeted isn’t made clear but according to Google, a court order required the company to keep the request a secret….”
“In 2011, Alexandra Elbakyan, then a 22-year-old student in Almaty, Kazakhstan, got fed up with this system and decided to throw a wrench in the gears. She created a program called Sci-Hub, a website reminiscent of The Pirate Bay that allows users to circumvent paywalls and download research articles for free….
Now, 10 years after she founded Sci-Hub, Elbakyan, who has been referred to as a “pirate queen” and “Robin Hood,” has found herself bogged down in lawsuits and investigations while she fights to provide the open access service that has become essential to the scientific community, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic….
Currently, Sci-Hub has over 84 million papers in its database, according to its website, and users generally download between two million and three million each day. Elbakyan has observed that more scientific articles are available in open access than ever before, due to the influence of her work. But Sci-Hub continues to be embroiled in lawsuits and investigations. In January 2020, Sci-Hub’s Twitter account was suspended for violating the site’s counterfeit policy. And Sci-Hub has frozen downloads during the trial in India.”
“Download figures for Sci-Hub, the popular but controversial website that hosts pirated copies of scientific papers, reveal where people are using the site most. The statistics show that users accessing Sci-Hub from China are by far the most active — and that with more than 25 million downloads, usage in China outstrips the rest of the top ten countries combined (see ‘Global resource’).
Perhaps surprisingly, the figures also show that the United States, in second place, has about one-third as many downloads, at 9.3 million. “There is a widespread opinion that Sci-Hub is of no use in the United States, because universities have money to pay for subscriptions, but that is not true,” says Alexandra Elbakyan, the site’s founder.
The statistics are updated daily and show the number of downloads from each country over the past month — but they are not normalized for the size of the research population….”
Abstract: On December 19, 2019, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. Justice Department is investigating the founder and operator of Sci-Hub Alexandra Elbakyan on suspicion of working with Russian intelligence to steal U.S. military secrets from defense contractors. The article further discusses Sci-Hub’s methods for acquiring the login credentials of university students and faculty “to pilfer vast amounts of academic literature.” This has long been public knowledge. But the confirmation of Sci-Hub potentially working with Russian intelligence was major news. Both fronts of the Sci-Hub assault on stealing intellectual property are concerning. Since many academic researchers and their employers routinely receive defense contracts to perform sensitive research, the article helped posit that offering free access to academic research articles is perhaps a Trojan Horse strategy for Sci-Hub. To add to The Washington Post’s report, we sought out individuals at universities with a vantage point on Sci-Hub’s activities to see if there is independent evidence to support the report. We spoke to Dr. Jason Ensor who at the time of this interview was Manager, Engagement Strategy and Scholarly Communication, Library Systems at Western Sydney University Library in Australia. Ensor holds four degrees in related critical thinking fields and is an experienced business professional in software development, data scholarship and print publishing. He is also a distinguished speaker on digital humanities and linked fields, presenting regularly in national and international forums.
“Three researchers who sought to intervene in a court case that will determine whether Sci-Hub will be blocked by ISPs in India have had their application rejected. They argued that blocking access to copyrighted research papers would affect their work and harm the public interest. The judge found that an intervention could not be made on that basis….”
This article reports a recent development of the ongoing court case between Sci-Hub and Libgen and three publishers, Elsevier Ltd, Wiley India Pvt Ltd, and the American Chemical Society. The Delhi High Court has rejected an application filed by three researchers seeking impleadment in the ongoing infringement proceedings.
“The Delhi High Court has rejected an application filed by three researchers seeking impleadment in the ongoing infringement proceedings in the Sci Hub case.
Justice C Hari Shankar rejected the impleadment application filed by Prof. Subbiah Arunachalam, Prof. (Dr.) Padmanabhan Balaram and Mr. Madhan Muthu claiming to be eminent researchers and scientists holding various coveted academic positions at some of the most prestigious universities in India.
The impleadment was sought in the suit filed by publishing houses Elsevier Ltd, Wiley India Pvt Ltd, and American Chemical Society against onlinerepositories Sci Hub and Libgen(another online repository of science articles) over alleged copyright infringement.
The applicants had supported the legality of SciHub and Libgen
“In my view such intervention cannot be permitted under Order I Rule BA of the CPC. If such intervention is permitted it would be a carte blanche for persons, who claim to be beneficiaries of material which is alleged to be infringing in nature to start intervening in the infringement proceedings, which would seriously impact the prosecution of the proceedings in the Court,” the Court ordered….”
“The Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) Executive Roundtable that took place as part of the CNI Fall 2020 Virtual Membership Meeting examined the collision between developing international tensions and science nationalism on one side, and trends towards global, network-based collaboration and scholarly communication, particularly as driven by the adoption of open science practices, on the other….
There is a very broad-based effort to restructure the terms of open access (OA) publishing across the globe through so-called “transformative agreements” and efforts such as the European Union-based Plan S, which stipulates (among other things) that scientific publications resulting from publicly funded research be published in OA journals or platforms. Currently there’s a rough and still tentative alignment between the US and Europe on this effort; in particular, there is some ambiguity about the extent of support by US federal funders, as distinct from research universities (who have a wide range of views), for the Plan S style approach. Given the scale of publishing by Chinese researchers, it seems likely that unless China supports this restructuring effort, the economics globally will be at best problematic. While a few years ago some Chinese scholarly organizations seem to have expressed conceptual support for both this kind of OA and related initiatives about open research data, it’s unclear where this commitment now stands, or how it may relate to other emerging Chinese scholarly publishing strategies….
Some recent policy announcements seem to suggest that China is de-emphasizing the importance of publishing in very high prestige Western journals; interestingly, this is being cast as consistent with the efforts of Western and global open science advocates to focus assessments of scholarly impact on quality rather than quantity, and to de-emphasize measures such as the impact factor of the journals that results are published in. Note that to the extent that China is, or may be, investing in a national publishing infrastructure, this implies shifting investment away from contributions that might support a global restructuring of the Western scholarly publishing system (discussed above) towards new OA models. …”
“DOI enhances the accessibility, discoverability, trustability, and interoperability of digital objects and serves the openness and visibility of professionally published content. While I am not a DOI expert, I know about it because I use it a lot in my profession. I believe DOI will play a significant role in the automation of literature reviews. More than it does now.
It is the responsibility of librarians, information specialists and other information professionals to raise awareness about the benefits of DOI. …”