“Bitcoin as a censorship-free money has been used by outlaws of all sorts, but this time the outlaw is a young scientist from Kazakhstan breaking through the paywalls of academic journals.
Alexandra Elbakyan, a 31-year-old freelance coder, neurobiologist and phylologist, is running a database of over 80 million articles from academic journals that are normally available only through subscriptions. What started out of frustration when she was a graduate student became a free research service funded only through donations. For most people in the world, bitcoin is the only way to support Elbakyan’s work. …
Elbakyan says bitcoin only constitutes a small part of all donations. Most often, it’s the online payment service Yandex.Money that is available in Russia and nearby countries including Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. However, for all the other parts of the world, crypto is the only direct way to support Sci-Hub.
Sometimes, that can be an issue. Still few people trust bitcoin, Elbakyan says, and some countries prohibit crypto, such as Bolivia and Ecuador….
In 2018, University of Pennsylvania postdoctoral fellow Daniel Himmelstein and a group of other scholars found that Sci-Hub raised more than 94 bitcoin, worth about $900,000 at recent prices, before 2018. Speaking with CoinDesk, Elbakyan confirmed that the estimate was mostly fair.
The 2017 bitcoin rally was a good moment for her, Elbakyan says, as she could sell some bitcoin at a high price. But otherwise she’s nonchalant about all things blockchain and distributed tech. When asked if distributed file storage solutions currently in the works could be useful for Sci-Hub, she says the site works fine as it is. …”