Nature’s 10 : Nature News & Comment

One of the 10 is Alexandra Elbakyan, creator of Sci-Hub.

“It is copyright-breaking on a grand scale — and has brought Elbakyan praise, criticism and a lawsuit. Few people support the fact that she acted illegally, but many see Sci-Hub as advancing the cause of the open-access movement, which holds that papers should be made (legally) free to read and reuse. “What she did is nothing short of awesome,” says Michael Eisen, a biologist and open-access supporter at the University of California, Berkeley. “Lack of access to the scientific literature is a massive injustice, and she fixed it with one fell swoop.”

For the first few years of its existence, the site flew under the radar — but eventually it grew too big for subscription publishers to ignore. In 2015, the Dutch company Elsevier, supported by the wider publishing industry, brought a US lawsuit against Elbakyan on the basis of copyright infringement and hacking. If Elbakyan loses, she risks having to pay many millions of dollars in damages, and potentially spending time in jail. (For that reason, Elbakyan does not disclose her current location and she was interviewed for this article by encrypted e-mail and messaging.) In 2015, a US judge ordered Sci-Hub to be shut down, but the site popped up on other domains. It’s most popular in China, India and Iran, she says, but a good 5% or so of its users come from the United States….”

Piracy of scientific papers in Latin America

Abstract: “Sci-Hub hosts pirated copies of 51 million scientific papers from commercial publishers. This article presents the site’s characteristics, it criticizes that it might be perceived as a de-facto component of the Open Access movement, it replicates an analysis published in Science using its available usage data, but limiting it to Latin America, and presents implications caused by this site for information professionals, universities and libraries.”

Piracy of scientific papers in Latin America

Abstract: “Sci-Hub hosts pirated copies of 51 million scientific papers from commercial publishers. This article presents the site’s characteristics, it criticizes that it might be perceived as a de-facto component of the Open Access movement, it replicates an analysis published in Science using its available usage data, but limiting it to Latin America, and presents implications caused by this site for information professionals, universities and libraries.”

Pirates in the Library – An Inquiry into the Guerilla Open Access Movement by Balázs Bodó :: SSRN

2016 is the year when piracy finally became an unavoidable topic in the domain of scholarly communications. This article gives insight into the Guerilla Open Access (GOA) movement, which is responsible for the creation and maintenance of massive, copyright infringing, freely accessible online shadow libraries of scholarly works: journal articles, monographs, textbooks. It reconstructs the developments in the western and global academia and scholarly publishing which led to the birth of the movement, and identifies some of the factors its ongoing existence depends on. The article discusses several aspects of the GOA movement: the alliance of scholars in the global centers and at the global peripheries, the alliance of public and clandestine operations, and its relationship with, and its differences from the Open Access (OA) approach, which aims to facilitate the accessibility of scholarly communications through legal means.

Fast and Furious (at Publishers): The Motivations behind Crowdsourced Research Sharing

Abstract: “Crowdsourced research sharing takes place across social media platforms including Twitter  hashtags such as #icanhazpdf, Reddit Scholar, and Facebook. This study surveys users of these peer?to? peer exchanges on demographic information, frequency of use, and their motivations in both providing  and obtaining scholarly information on these platforms. Respondents also provided their perspectives  on the database terms of service and/or copyright violations in these exchanges. Findings indicate that the motivations of this community are utilitarian or ideological in nature, similar to other peer?to?peer  file sharing online. Implications for library services including instruction, outreach, and interlibrary loan  are discussed.”

Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone | Science

“But in increasing numbers, researchers around the world are turning to Sci-Hub, which hosts 50 million papers and counting. Over the 6 months leading up to March, Sci-Hub served up 28 million documents. More than 2.6 million download requests came from Iran, 3.4 million from India, and 4.4 million from China. The papers cover every scientific topic, from obscure physics experiments published decades ago to the latest breakthroughs in biotechnology. The publisher with the most requested Sci-Hub articles? It is Elsevier by a long shot—Sci-Hub provided half-a-million downloads of Elsevier papers in one recent week.

These statistics are based on extensive server log data supplied by Alexandra Elbakyan, the neuroscientist who created Sci-Hub in 2011 as a 22-year-old graduate student in Kazakhstan (see bio, p. 511). I asked her for the data because, in spite of the flurry of polarized opinion pieces, blog posts, and tweets about Sci-Hub and what effect it has on research and academic publishing, some of the most basic questions remain unanswered: Who are Sci-Hub’s users, where are they, and what are they reading? …”

Study explores peer-to-peer research sharing communities

“Peer-to-peer research sharing looks a lot like sharing of other forms of media, a new study suggests. While some researchers are personally opposed to copyright, others pirate research simply for the sake of convenience. Piracy been around for decades, but the sources of pirated music, movies and more have multiplied over the years, expanding beyond platforms such as Napster and the Pirate Bay. Today, many users search for copyrighted scholarly papers on Facebook, Reddit and Twitter or repositories such as Library Genesis (LibGen) and Sci-Hub. Carolyn Caffrey Gardner and Gabriel J. Gardner, librarians at the University of Southern California and California State University at Long Beach, respectively, recently explored the motivations of the people who use those sites. Their paper, ‘Fast and Furious (at Publishers): The Motivations Behind Crowdsourced Research Sharing,’ will appear in an upcoming edition of College & Research Libraries, a publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries …”

A few thoughts on Sci-Hub

“I was just quoted in the NYTimes saying that “Unlawful [open] access gives open access a bad name.” 

I’m already taking heat from friends and allies for saying it. But I also said more on the same subject that was not quoted. I’ll clarify a bit here by providing some of what the NYT omitted. But I’m well aware that some friends and allies who disagree with the short formulation will also disagree with the long version. 

In my unquoted elaboration, I said that Sci-Hub leaves the false impression that OA requires copyright infringement, or that OA must be unlawful….”

Meet the Robin Hood of Science | Big Think

” … On September 5th, 2011, Alexandra Elbakyan, a researcher from Kazakhstan, created Sci-Hub, a website that bypasses journal paywalls, illegally providing access to nearly every scientific paper ever published immediately to anyone who wants it. The website works in two stages, firstly by attempting to download a copy from the LibGen database of pirated content, which opened its doors to academic papers in 2012 and now contains over 48 million scientific papers. The ingenious part of the system is that if LibGen does not already have a copy of the paper, Sci-hub bypasses the journal paywall in real time by using access keys donated by academics lucky enough to study at institutions with an adequate range of subscriptions. This allows Sci-Hub to route the user straight to the paper through publishers such as JSTOR, Springer, Sage, and Elsevier. After delivering the paper to the user within seconds, Sci-Hub donates a copy of the paper to LibGen for good measure, where it will be stored forever, accessible by everyone and anyone …”