“Everytime a scholar retrieves a research paper from Sci-Hub, or from elsewhere, they can elect to archive the paper on ArSciHub. A paper archived on ArSciHub is stored permanently on Arweave’s decentralised blockweave, and added to the ArSciHub index for future access by the archiver and the general public.”
“When librarians prepare for a negotiation, they now routinely reach for the muscle. At least that’s how I read the news about the Swedish library consortium and its dealings with Elsevier. If you have been too preoccupied with the Royal Wedding to pay attention to news coming out of the world of STM publishing, you can get a good backgrounder here. Briefly, the Swedish consortium attempted to dictate terms to Elsevier, terms that Elsevier would not accept. The result is that Elsevier’s contract will be cancelled, meaning that there will be no authorized access to Elsevier content for the consortium users.
I have written previously about how the current landscape looks to publishers. In every negotiation, publishers are mindful that their ability to control access to their publications is compromised by unauthorized access from such sites as Sci-Hub and ResearchGate. How can Elsevier or any publisher shut off the Swedes or the Germans when Alexandra Elbakyan is waiting in the anteroom? Librarians have learned to reach for the muscle and now confidently demand terms that no publisher can or will accept. This raises the obvious question of whether librarians knowingly and actively seek the support of copyright pirates; or perhaps librarians simply are going about their business in their usual upbeat way, working diligently to make the world a better place, and the critical involvement of the shady characters is neither sought nor recognized. My own view has changed. I think the cynicism quotient in academic libraries, measured against other organizations and institutions, is very low. This is not, after all, Wall Street or, lord help us, the telecommunications business. But, like the populist governments that have now been installed in a number of Western democracies, the party of cynicism has taken control of some leading library organizations. Thus a nod to the likes of Luca Brasi no longer seems out of line. Having grown up in New Jersey, I have some qualms about what it means for anyone to form an alliance with unsavory characters. What do you do when they ask for a favor in return?
So it’s about time to consider what happens if the libraries win. By “win” I mean they refuse deals with publishers and turn their constituencies over to unauthorized sites. This will save them huge amounts of money, of course, money that they would surely like to put to other uses. Publishing is an ecosystem, however, and a significant change in one element can ripple across the entire field. If Sci-Hub becomes the default place to go for full-text content, what else will change?
“Three years ago, I felt called to the unhappy task of pointing out the many points of failure in what Lettie Conrad calls the “researcher experience.” I observed that “Instead of the rich and seamless digital library for scholarship that they need, researchers today encounter archipelagos of content bridged by infrastructure that is insufficient and often outdated.” Perhaps researchers need a supercontinent.
Since then, Sci-Hub has come on the scene, and publishers are in some combination of being outraged and/or scared. It may be that these businesses are too late. The formula for stabilizing a sector facing rampant piracy is the combination of legal action and seamless central access to content that allowed the music industry to find a future after Napster. Thus far, for scholarly publishers, legal action is not working, with cross-border enforcement challenging in this geopolitical moment. But what about the seamless centralized access to content? How is this sector going to accept the tectonic shift necessary to establish the supercontinent?…”
“Abstract: The website Sci-Hub enables users to download PDF versions of scholarly articles, including many articles that are paywalled at their journal’s site. Sci-Hub has grown rapidly since its creation in 2011, but the extent of its coverage was unclear. Here we report that, as of March 2017, Sci-Hub’s database contains 68.9% of the 81.6 million scholarly articles registered with Crossref and 85.1% of articles published in toll access journals. We find that coverage varies by discipline and publisher, and that Sci-Hub preferentially covers popular, paywalled content. For toll access articles, we find that Sci-Hub provides greater coverage than the University of Pennsylvania, a major research university in the United States. Green open access to toll access articles via licit services, on the other hand, remains quite limited. Our interactive browser at https://greenelab.github.io/scihub allows users to explore these findings in more detail. For the first time, nearly all scholarly literature is available gratis to anyone with an Internet connection, suggesting the toll access business model may become unsustainable.”
“Seven years ago, a Kazakhstani graduate student named Alexandra Elbakyan started a website with a seemingly innocuous goal: Make most of the world’s research freely available to anyone with internet access. It’s a sad reflection on the state of scientific publishing that she is now a fugitive hiding in Russia. Most people agree that if the public funds scientific research, it should also have free access to the results. …The publishers have responded with legal action. Last year, Elsevier won $15 million in damages for copyright infringement. More recently, a Virginia court awarded the American Chemical Society $4.8 million and ordered internet search engines, web hosting sites and service providers to stop facilitating Sci-Hub activities….”
“Sci-Hub, often referred to as the “Pirate Bay of Science,” has suffered another blow in a US federal court. The American Chemical Society has won a default judgment of $4.8 million for alleged copyright infringement against the site. In addition, the publisher was granted an unprecedented injunction which requires search engines and ISPs to block the platform.”
“If publishers are to thrive in an increasingly hostile landscape of open access mandates, decreasing research and library funding, ResearchGate, Sci-Hub and other pirate sites, and out-of-copyright usage, all while defending against everyday competitive pressures, they must distinguish their content and their brand from their competitors’ and deepen their relationships with readers and subscribers. However, quality content is no longer enough to attract and retain online readers, who can too often find a publisher’s paywall-protected content on another site where it is available for free or request it from colleagues.
For example, a study by the inventors of Unpaywall, a browser extension that locates (legally) free versions of articles, found that ~4.8% of all journal articles with DOIs – ~2.97 million articles – are behind a paywall on their publisher’s site but have also been deposited in open access repositories by their authors; such articles account for over 9% of all searches via Unpaywall (Piowar et al., 2017). As of August 2017, Unpaywall had about 80,000 users (Chawla, 2017)….”