Universities ignore growing concern over Sci-Hub cyber risk

“According to The Washington Post, Elbakyan, nicknamed the Robin Hood of science, is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for suspected criminal acts and espionage.

Elbakyan denies any wrongdoing, but scholarly publishers such as Elsevier have used news of her investigation to call on academic institutions to block access to Sci-Hub — not because the site is illegal, but because it poses a security threat. Several large publishers, including Elsevier, have successfully sued Sci-Hub for mass copyright infringement in recent years. The Sci-Hub repository contains more than 80 million research articles, including a large proportion of Elsevier’s catalog….

PSI, a company based in Britain that offers tools and services to protect scholarly copyright, maintains a list of web addresses associated with Sci-Hub, which institutions can download and use to block access to the site on campus.

Andrew Pitts, CEO and co-founder of PSI, said that so far, few U.S. institutions have downloaded the block list. Pitts, who has been writing about Sci-Hub’s links to Russian military intelligence for several years, said he struggled to understand why universities are not taking more immediate steps to protect their networks. “This is a matter of urgency,” he said….”

Universities ignore growing concern over Sci-Hub cyber risk

“According to The Washington Post, Elbakyan, nicknamed the Robin Hood of science, is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for suspected criminal acts and espionage.

Elbakyan denies any wrongdoing, but scholarly publishers such as Elsevier have used news of her investigation to call on academic institutions to block access to Sci-Hub — not because the site is illegal, but because it poses a security threat. Several large publishers, including Elsevier, have successfully sued Sci-Hub for mass copyright infringement in recent years. The Sci-Hub repository contains more than 80 million research articles, including a large proportion of Elsevier’s catalog….

PSI, a company based in Britain that offers tools and services to protect scholarly copyright, maintains a list of web addresses associated with Sci-Hub, which institutions can download and use to block access to the site on campus.

Andrew Pitts, CEO and co-founder of PSI, said that so far, few U.S. institutions have downloaded the block list. Pitts, who has been writing about Sci-Hub’s links to Russian military intelligence for several years, said he struggled to understand why universities are not taking more immediate steps to protect their networks. “This is a matter of urgency,” he said….”

Sci-Hub users cost ASA journals thousands of downloads, and that’s OK | Family Inequality

“I use Sci-Hub a lot, often for things that I also have subscription access to. (I do not, however, contribute anything to the system; I free-ride off their criminality.) Why? I’m not in the paywall game business, I’m in the information business. I am always behind on my work, and adding a few seconds or minutes of hunting for the legitimate way to get each of the many articles I look at every day is not worth it. (And when I find my university doesn’t subscribe? Interlibrary loan is wonderful, but I don’t want to spend more time with it than necessary.) Does my choice cost the American Sociological Association a few cents, by reducing legitimate downloads, which somehow factors into the profits that get kicked back to the association from Sage? I don’t know.

Of course, one of the dumb things about the paywall system is that it’s expensive and time-consuming to manage who has access to what information — it’s not a small task to keep information from reaching millions of determined readers from all around the world. (I assume one of the reasons my university recently introduced two-factor authentication — requiring me to click a pop-up on my phone every time I log in to university resources [even when I’m in my office] — is because of Sci-Hub. Ironic!)

Chris Bourg is right: “let it be a lesson to us for what we should be doing differently.” Elbakyan may have committed the most efficient product theft in history, in terms of list price of stolen goods per unit of effort or expense on her part. Her archive has been copied and distributed to different sites around the world (it fits in a large suitcase). And it was made possible by the irrational, corrupt nature of the scholarly communication infrastructure. Her success is the system’s failure.”

What to Expect in the Publishing World in 2020 | The Scientist Magazine®

“Earlier this month, a rumor began to circulate that the US government was planning on passing an executive order that would mandate all papers from federally funded research be open access immediately upon publication—abolishing the 12-month paywall allowed under current rules.

In response, more than 135 scientific societies and academic publishers penned an open letter to President Donald Trump’s Administration strongly opposing such a policy, warning that the proposed changes would “jeopardize the intellectual property of American organizations engaged in the creation of high-quality peer-reviewed journals and research articles and would potentially delay the publication of new research results.” The letter has been widely criticized by academics and open-access advocates on social media….”

Academic Publishers Get Their Wish: DOJ Investigating Sci-Hub Founder For Alleged Ties To Russian Intelligence | Techdirt

“We’ve written plenty about Sci-Hub over the years. The service, which was set up to allow free and easy access to academic research that is all-to-often hidden behind insanely expensive paywalls (often, despite being paid for with public funds), is the bane of academic publishers, though the hero to many academics. As we’ve highlighted, the big publishers keep playing whac-a-mole with the service as they try to take it down around the globe, and each time it just seems to get the site more attention. From the earliest days, it’s been clear that Sci-Hub works by getting academics with access to various collections to “donate” their login credentials, so that Sci-Hub can fetch any missing papers not in its collection (if it, and its associated site Libgen, already have it, they make that version available)….”

DOJ Investigating Sci-Hub Founder on Suspicion of Aiding Russian Intelligence: Report

“The Justice Department is investigating a woman who runs a piracy website on suspicion that she is helping Russian intelligence gain access to inside information about the U.S. military from defense contractors, people familiar with the investigation told The Washington Post. Alexandra Elbakyan?, the creator of Sci-Hub, a website that provides free access to academic papers that are available only through subscriptions, told the Post she was not surprised she was being investigated by U.S. authorities….”

Sci-Hub Finally Gets Investigated

“Sci-Hub is finally being investigated by the US Department of Justice. More specifically, Alexandra Elbakyan is herself being investigated on the suspicion she is working with Russian intelligence, using Sci-Hub as a front to penetrate academic institutions and corporations with the plausible deniability granted by piracy in the name of openness….”