“Sci-Hub has been blocked in the US and must pay $4.8 million to the American Chemical Society (ACS) after a US district court entered a default judgment and injunction against it.”
“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)….”
“However, despite the current success, this strategy of wining over faculty hasn’t been very effective: only a fraction of the current access is created by gold/green open access, much of it stems from sci-hub and sharing sites such as ResearchGate. In other words, as fantastic as full access to the literature that we now enjoy feels, it was brought about only to a small extent by the changed publication behavior of faculty.”
“Sci-Hub, a widely-used website that provides access to pirated academic articles, is facing legal challenges from two major publishers—Elsevier and the American Chemical Society (ACS). The site, which was established by former neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan in 2011 and is operated out of Russia, hosts millions of scientific documents and has users all around the globe.”
“Publisher paywalls are the bane of scientists and students in Kazakhstan, she says, and the existing solution was cumbersome: Post a request on Twitter to #IcanhazPDF with your email address. Eventually, a generous researcher at some university with access to the journal will send you the paper.
What was needed, she decided, was a system that allowed that paper to be shared—with absolutely everyone. She had the computer skills—and contacts with other pirate websites—to make that happen, and so Sci-Hub was born (see main story, p. 508). Elbakyan sees the site as a natural extension of her dream of helping humans share good ideas. “Journal paywalls are an example of something that works in the reverse direction,” she says, “making communication less open and efficient.”
Running a pirate site and being sued for what is likely to be millions of dollars in damages hasn’t stopped Elbakyan from pursuing an academic career. Her neuroscience research is on hold, but she has enrolled in a history of science master’s program at a “small private university” in an undisclosed location. Appropriately enough, her thesis focuses on scientific communication. “I perceive Sci-Hub as a practical side of my research.” …”
“The objective of this survey is to examine practices with respect to access and use of research publications and Sci-Hub.
Your answers will help us to better understand norms on gathering and sharing of publications and publicly funded research.
The following questions are aimed at academics, researchers and students from different disciplines.
The survey should take around 10 minutes to complete….”
“There is no doubt that Sci-Hub, the infamous—and, according to a U.S. court, illegal—online repository of pirated research papers, is enormously popular. (See Science’s investigation last year of who is downloading papers from Sci-Hub.) But just how enormous is its repository? That is the question biodata scientist Daniel Himmelstein at the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues recently set out to answer, after an assist from Sci-Hub.
Their findings, published in a preprint on the PeerJ journal site on 20 July, indicate that Sci-Hub can instantly provide access to more than two-thirds of all scholarly articles, an amount that Himmelstein says is “even higher” than he anticipated. For research papers protected by a paywall, the study found Sci-Hub’s reach is greater still, with instant access to 85% of all papers published in subscription journals. For some major publishers, such as Elsevier, more than 97% of their catalog of journal articles is being stored on Sci-Hub’s servers—meaning they can be accessed there for free.
Given that Sci-Hub has access to almost every paper a scientist would ever want to read, and can quickly obtain requested papers it doesn’t have, could the website truly topple traditional publishing? In a chat with ScienceInsider, Himmelstein concludes that the results of his study could mark “the beginning of the end” for paywalled research. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. …”
“The consensus seems to be that a lawsuit isn’t going to stop Sci-Hub, it’s more than likely here to stay.
Some in the publishing industry have even suggested that the sector needs to be introspective and acknowledge that it has failed to provide fair access to researchers.
What is clear is how much power the publishing industry that services the academic world appears to have.
Two activists who have challenged that power have met with the full force of the law. One forced into suicide and the other into hiding, fearing being kidnapped for extradition.
In a time of #FeesMustFall perhaps we as South Africans should be paying more attention to this global battle.”