I am John Bond from Riverwinds Consulting and this is Publishing Defined.
Today I am going to discuss Sci-Hub, the online search engine that provides academic articles
for direct download for free.
Sci-Hub was launched in 2011 by Kazakhstan graduate student Alexandra Elbakyan.
Since then Sci-Hub has been at the center of controversy and legal battles.
Sci-Hub offers over 58,000,000 articles free to users by bypassing publisher’s paywalls,
New articles are uploaded daily, perhaps by access through educational institutional proxies.
Sci-Hub has been the subject of numerous lawsuits, most notably by Elsevier.
Starting in 2015, a complaint was filed against the original domain.
Following the loss of the domain, Sci-Hub has used several other domains, some of which
have been blocked in certain countries.
Despite these efforts, the site remains active but sometimes requires additional steps to
access including the option of a direct IP address.
In April 2016, Elbakyan told Science magazine that many academics from around the world
donate their credentials, while publishers have claimed that Sci-Hub relies on credentials
obtained by illegal means.
Sci-Hub also began collaborating with Library Genesis or LibGen, a repository of educational
books and documents in Russia.
The Sci-Hub site is financed by user donations paid in bitcoins.
The website has widespread popularity in both developed and developing countries including
the United States, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, China, Russia, Brazil, and the whole European
The goal of Elbakyan has been to spread knowledge by allowing more people to access paywalled
Elbakyan has cited the UN Declaration of Human Rights "to share in scientific advancement
and its benefits" as her rationale.
She claims the content is hindered by publishers demanding excessive payment for content which
is written and donated by researchers.
Sci-Hub has been compared to, among others, Napster and Edward Snowden.
There are some great discussions about Sci-Hub: see the Scholarly Kitchen at sspnet.org for
several great articles from the publisher’s point of view.
Also, see Science magazine in April 2016 for another valuable article, “Who's downloading
Everyone” which is worth the read.
And most importantly read the comments at the end of all of these articles to get a
flavor of the passion out there on the researchers and readers side.
I’ll post a link to these in the comments below this video.
All publishers with a paywall or that require login for membership are being affected by
Sci-Hub today, whether they know it or not.
Sci-Hub conversely does not appear to be going anywhere, anytime soon.
This situation will continue to be followed closely as this push and pull over fair access
to academic knowledge and the right to monetize a product are debated.
Well that’s it.
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