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posted by chromas on Monday October 11, @09:47PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Futurism has done an interview over e-mail with Alexandra Elbakyan who founded Sci-Hub ten years ago. Over that time, it has become both widely used and well-stocked, having picked up momentum in 2016. There are now over 87 million research articles in its database, though not evenly distributed over academic disciplines.

As of September, Sci-Hub has officially existed for 10 years — a milestone that came as a lawsuit to determine if the website infringed on copyright laws sits in India’s Delhi High Court. Just a few months prior, Elbakyan tweeted that she was notified of a request from the FBI to access her data from Apple. And before that, the major academic publisher Elsevier was awarded $15 million in damages after the Department of Justice ruled that Sci-Hub broke copyright law in the U.S.

But that ruling can’t seem to touch Sci-Hub. And Elbakyan remains absolutely unrepentant. She advocates for a future in which scientific knowledge is shared freely, and she’s confident that it’s coming.

Futurism caught up with Elbakyan to hear what’s next. Over email, she explained her vision for the site’s future, her thoughts on copyright law, and more. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The article goes on to report that she had expected copyright law to be corrected long before so much time had passed. In many ways Sci-Hub can be seen as a form of push back against the academic publishing houses which are infamous for abusive practices and pricing. The cost of research, writing, editing, peer-review, and more are all borne by the researchers and their institutions with little beyond distribution borne by the publisher. The big publishing houses then sell access back to the same researchers and institutions at rates that a small and decreasing number can afford.

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Elsevier Cracks Down on "Pirate" Science Search Engines 22 comments

Tired of seeing [abstract only] on SoylentNews? Try searching for the title on the Library Genesis search engine.

TorrentFreak reports that the academic publishing giant Elsevier has filed a complaint in a New York District Court to attempt to shut down the Library Genesis and search engines:

According to Elsevier the company is losing revenue because of these sites, so in order to stem the tide the publisher has filed a complaint [PDF] at a New York federal court hoping to shut them down.

"Defendants are reproducing and distributing unauthorized copies of Elsevier's copyrighted materials, unlawfully obtained from ScienceDirect, through Sci-Hub and through various websites affiliated with the Library Genesis Project," the complaint reads. "Specifically, Defendants utilize their websites located at and at the Libgen Domains to operate an international network of piracy and copyright infringement by circumventing legal and authorized means of access to the ScienceDirect database," it adds.

According to Elsevier, the websites access articles by using unlawfully obtained student or faculty access credentials. The articles are then added to the "pirate" library, backed up on their own servers.

Tom Allen, President of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), informs TF that websites such as Libgen pose a threat to the quality of scientific publications, as well as the public health. "Scholarly publishers work to ensure the accuracy of the scientific record by issuing corrections and revisions to research findings as needed; Libgen typically does not," Allen says. "As a result, its repository of illegally obtained content poses a threat to both quality journal publishing and to public health and safety."

The court has yet to decide whether the injunctions should be granted, but considering outcomes in recent piracy cases there's a good chance this will happen. For the time being, however, the Libgen and Sci-hub websites remain online.

Original Submission

Sci-Hub Bounces from TLD to TLD 16 comments

Sci-Hub is a web hydra, not unlike The Pirate Bay:

Sci-Hub is often referred to as the "Pirate Bay of Science," and this description has become more and more apt in recent weeks.

Initially, the comparison was made to illustrate that Sci-Hub is used by researchers to download articles for free, much like the rest of the world uses The Pirate Bay to get free stuff.

There are more parallels though. Increasingly, Sci-Hub has trouble keeping its domain names. Following two injunctions in the US, academic publishers now have court orders to compel domain registrars and registries to suspend Sci-Hub's addresses.

Although there is no such court order for The Pirate Bay, the notorious torrent site also has a long history of domain suspensions. Both sites appear to tackle the problem in a similar manner. They simply ignore all enforcement efforts and bypass them with new domains and other circumvention tools. They have several backup domains in place as well as unsuspendable .onion addresses, which are accessible on the Tor network.

Since late November, a lot of Sci-Hub users have switched to when other domains were suspended. And, when the .bz domain was targeted a few days ago, they moved to different alternatives. It's a continuous game of Whack-a-Mole that is hard to stop.

Don't forget Library Genesis .

Previously: The Research Pirates of the Dark Web
Sci-Hub, the Repository of "Infringing" Academic Papers Now Available Via "Telegram"
Elsevier Wants $15 Million Piracy Damages from Sci-Hub and Libgen
US Court Grants Elsevier Millions in Damages From Sci-Hub
Sci-Hub Faces $4.8 Million Piracy Damages and ISP Blocking
Virginia District Court Demands that ISPs and Search Engines Block Sci-Hub

Original Submission

Sci-Hub Proves That Piracy Can be Dangerously Useful 50 comments

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

Despite two lost legal battles in the US, domain name seizures, and millions of dollars in damage claims, Sci-Hub continues to offer unauthorized access to academic papers. The site's founder says that she would rather operate legally, but copyright gets in the way. Sci-Hub is not the problem she argues, it's a solution, something many academics appear to agree with.

Sci-Hub has often been referred to as "The Pirate Bay of Science," but that description really sells the site short.

While both sites are helping the public to access copyrighted content without permission, Sci-Hub has also become a crucial tool that arguably helps the progress of science.

The site allows researchers to bypass expensive paywalls so they can read articles written by their fellow colleagues. The information in these 'pirated' articles is then used to provide the foundation for future research.

What the site does is illegal, according to the law, but Sci-Hub is praised by thousands of researchers and academics around the world. In particular, those who don't have direct access to the expensive journals but aspire to excel in their academic field.


Original Submission

Swedish ISP Punishes Elsevier for Forcing It to Block Sci-Hub by Also Blocking Elsevier 79 comments

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Swedish ISP punishes Elsevier for forcing it to block Sci-Hub by also blocking Elsevier

[...] Unfortunately for Swedes and for science, the Swedish Patent and Market Court (which never met a copyright overreach it didn't love) upheld the order, and Bahnhof, a small ISP with limited resources, decided not to appeal (a bigger, richer ISP had just lost a similar appeal).

Instead, Bahnhof now blocks attempts to visit Sci-Hub domains, and, redirecting attempts to visit Elsevier to a page explaining how Elsevier's sleaze and bullying have allowed it to monopolize scientific publishing, paywalling publicly funded science that is selected, reviewed and edited by volunteers who mostly work for publicly funded institutions.

To as[sic] icing on this revenge-flavored cake, Bahnhof also detects attempts to visit its own site from the Patent and Market Court and redirects them to a page explaining that since the Patent and Market Court believes that parts of the web should be blocked, Bahnhof is blocking the court's access to its part of the web.

Original Submission

Sci-Hub Pledges Open Source & AI Alongside Crypto Donation Drive 15 comments

Sci-Hub Pledges Open Source & AI Alongside Crypto Donation Drive

Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan has launched a donation drive to ensure the operations and development of the popular academic research platform. For safety reasons, donations can only be made in cryptocurrencies but the pledges include a drive to open source the project and the introduction of artificial intelligence to discover new hypotheses.

[...] A new campaign launched by Elbakyan on Saturday hopes to encourage people to contribute to the site's future, promising "dramatic improvements" over the next few years in return.

In addition to offering enhanced search features and a mobile app, Sci-Hub is pledging developments that include the open sourcing of the project. Also of interest is the pledge to introduce an artificial intelligence component that should make better use of the masses of knowledge hosted by Sci-Hub.

"Sci-Hub engine will [be] powered by artificial intelligence. Neural Networks will read scientific texts, extract ideas and make inferences and discover new hypotheses," Elbakyan reveals.

The overall goal of the next few years is to boost content availability too, expanding from hosting "the majority of research articles" available today to include "any scientific document ever published."

Related: Sci-Hub Bounces from TLD to TLD
Sci-Hub Proves That Piracy Can be Dangerously Useful
Paywall: A Documentary About the Movement for Open-Access Science Publishing
Swedish ISP Punishes Elsevier for Forcing It to Block Sci-Hub by Also Blocking Elsevier
Library Genesis Seeding Project Helps to Decentralize Archive of Scientific Knowledge
Scientists to be Heard in High-Profile Publisher Lawsuit Against Sci-Hub in India

Original Submission

Large Publishers Aim to Own the Entire Academic Research Publishing Stack 27 comments

Over at Techdirt, Glyn Moody writes briefly about how to stop the large academic publishing houses from completing their attempts at gaining control over the entire publishing process from end-to-end.

Techdirt's coverage of open access -- the idea that the fruits of publicly-funded scholarship should be freely available to all -- shows that the results so far have been mixed. On the one hand, many journals have moved to an open access model. On the other, the overall subscription costs for academic institutions have not gone down, and neither have the excessive profit margins of academic publishers. Despite that success in fending off this attempt to re-invent the way academic work is disseminated, publishers want more. In particular, they want more money and more power. In an important new paper, a group of researchers warn that companies now aim to own the entire academic publishing stack: [...]

As it stands, universities stand for the salaries of the faculty members who research, write, and edit the journal articles at no cost to the publishers which then charge exorbitant prices for access to the results.

Journal Reference:
Björn Brembs, Philippe Huneman, Felix Schönbrodt, et al. Replacing academic journals, (DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.5526635)

(2020) Open Access Journals Get A Boost From Librarians—Much To Elsevier's Dismay
(2019) University of California Boycotts Publishing Giant Elsevier Over Journal Costs and Open Access
(2019) German Institutions Reach Open Access Deal with Scientific Publisher Wiley
(2018) Elsevier's Demands are Unacceptable to Germany's Academic Community
(2017) List of "Predatory Publishers" Disappears

Original Submission

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The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, @10:07PM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, @10:07PM (#1186299)

    She is stealing from the hard working shareholders of the scientific publishers, some of whom are widows and orphans.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Freeman on Monday October 11, @10:37PM (3 children)

      by Freeman (732) on Monday October 11, @10:37PM (#1186307) Journal

      I don't disagree with the principle. I do disagree with the method. Research already paid for by public funds should be available for free or at nominal cost to the public. Nominal cost isn't $50 for that particular article. Unless that sucker is 500 pages long and you want someone to make a print copy for you. At least the public that paid, I wouldn't necessarily expect scientific documents created with UK funds to necessarily be available for a US citizen for free and vice versa.

      Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by ikanreed on Tuesday October 12, @01:55AM (2 children)

        by ikanreed (3164) on Tuesday October 12, @01:55AM (#1186342) Journal

        And while you're waiting for sound principles to change a goddamn thing about a broken system, she's doing "the wrong thing" in a way that does so much good for the world.

        The world is full of choices where you must choose between the right thing the wrong way or the wrong thing the right way, and I believe it's a tragedy how often the latter wins.

        • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday October 12, @01:40PM (1 child)

          by Freeman (732) on Tuesday October 12, @01:40PM (#1186399) Journal

          Things take time, even revolutions. The problem is that Universities/Schools don't have Open Access policies. Well, at least, not enough of them do. In the event that those who are requiring the publish or perish model, would also implement an Open Access only policy. The problem would resolve itself. It might cause some trouble for the publishers (Springer/Elsevier/etc.), though.


          The main focus of the open access movement is "peer reviewed research literature."[2] Historically, this has centered mainly on print-based academic journals. Whereas conventional (non-open access) journals cover publishing costs through access tolls such as subscriptions, site licenses or pay-per-view charges, open-access journals are characterised by funding models which do not require the reader to pay to read the journal's contents or they rely on public funding. Open access can be applied to all forms of published research output, including peer-reviewed and non peer-reviewed academic journal articles, conference papers, theses,[3] book chapters,[1] monographs,[4] research reports and images.[5]

          Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
          • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Tuesday October 12, @03:01PM

            by ikanreed (3164) on Tuesday October 12, @03:01PM (#1186424) Journal

            The problem with this being that pay-to-publish has traditionally been viewed as a kind of academic vanity press with very low standards, as there is a perverse incentive to publish as much trash as possible versus rejecting papers with quality problems.

            Certainly getting published in a big name open access journal like Plos still looks good on a CV, but I myself have seen plenty that will happily publish "Ghosts are real actually, look at this photo" alongside a desperate optics postdoc's real work while trying to make tenure.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, @10:53PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, @10:53PM (#1186309)

      Won't someone think of the poor, oppressed owner class?

      Shove it, Scrooge. Alexandra Elbakyan is doing humanity a desperately needed service for the advancement of the entire species.

      Also, seriously wife material. World needs more women kicking ass and taking names.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, @11:40PM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, @11:40PM (#1186314)

        No, it's Marvel Comics that is doing humanity a desperately needed service by turning Superman into a gay homosexual... more Lois Lane for the rest of us.

        • (Score: 3, Touché) by pipedwho on Tuesday October 12, @12:41AM (1 child)

          by pipedwho (2032) on Tuesday October 12, @12:41AM (#1186329)

          What is a 'gay homosexual'? Is that a homosexual man that bats for other side and likes women afterall?

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, @07:50PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, @07:50PM (#1187092)

            What is a 'gay homosexual'? Is that a homosexual man that bats for other side and likes women afterall?

            Perhaps they are using the archaic meaning of gay, i.e. Superman is carefree in being homosexual ...

        • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday October 12, @01:27PM (1 child)

          by Freeman (732) on Tuesday October 12, @01:27PM (#1186397) Journal

          Highly surprised they didn't turn Super Girl.

          Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @03:27PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @03:27PM (#1186431)

            Too stereotyped. "Strong powerful woman - must be a lesbo."
            Also can't turn Batman, because his "Holey History Batman!!" with Boy Wonder would be a bit sus.
            The Flash is a bit problematic too. "The Flash" really?
            Spiderman is already a bit creepy-crawly.
            Gay Captain America would get the redneck nerds riled up.
            Wonder Woman is obviously already gay.

            Maybe Iron Man.

            But the obvious one to turn is Mr Fantastic. The real reason Johnny Storm had a ring of Fire.

            Ooh, just thought of it. What about a Rainbow Lantern?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @12:33AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @12:33AM (#1186327)

    You go girl!

    Somebody post a donation link.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @12:45AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @12:45AM (#1186330) []

      The Bitcoin address on the homepage is different. I don't know why.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by edIII on Tuesday October 12, @12:40AM (3 children)

    by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday October 12, @12:40AM (#1186328)

    If they want money then actually do something of value. It's been shown they sure as hell don't do any peer review. It's not in their interest to do so since they get fees off all entries. The time has long since past since we needed them to print and distribute the information on dead trees. The Internet changed scientific publishing as profoundly as the drop in the cost of Aluminum in the late 19th century.

    So what it is that we actually need that is still valuable?

    • Peer Review
    • Editing
    • Storage and dissemination of large data sets
    • Archival and indexing

    Storing and serving a bunch of PDFs is incredibly cheap. If Netflix can serve its catalog with CDNs and orders of magnitude more content for $20/mo, then the publishers can fuck right off with $50 access fees per title. That's the same level of fucktarditude in expecting people to always pay $10 per viewing of a movie online while attached to a cable subscription service already charging $100/mo. That's on the way out.

    Maybe $50/year for unlimited access, custom bookmarking, the ability to order prints for $x w/ shipping, from a respectable publisher that actually conducts real peer review and vets papers. That's the only reason why I can see myself paying a publisher. Knowing they had an extensive staff of experts that actually peer reviewed the paper and provided their commentary. You know, filtering out the 5G causes COVID using wavelengths shaped like platonic solids kind of crap. Even better, with hugely popular papers, REPLICATE THE EXPERIMENT AND STUDY!!!!! Some people crowdfund video games, I would give a couple hundred to have some energy research investigated and replicated.

    Lastly, have the publishers ever spent billions on funding any science?

    Fucking parasites.

    Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by driverless on Tuesday October 12, @10:11AM (2 children)

      by driverless (4770) on Tuesday October 12, @10:11AM (#1186376)

      A lot of publishers do actually do peer review. I'm an unpaid peer reviewer that works for free for poor suffering multinational publishers who can barely make ends meet.

      They really don't to anything much except collect money. It's a pretty good racket to be in.

      • (Score: 2) by loonycyborg on Tuesday October 12, @07:19PM

        by loonycyborg (6905) on Tuesday October 12, @07:19PM (#1186485)

        On the other hand, if peer reviewers actually were on payroll of publishers then resulting conflict of interest would be dire indeed.

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @08:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @08:00PM (#1186492)

        When I start my own journal, you can come work for me. I'll easily double what they're paying you now!

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Tuesday October 12, @12:50AM (2 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday October 12, @12:50AM (#1186331) Journal

    > The cost of research, writing, editing, peer-review, and more are all borne by the researchers and their institutions with little beyond distribution borne by the publisher.

    Those are good points, which show academic publishers in an even worse light. Another good point is the impracticabilty of locking away knowledge. The various means to enforce ignorance, ranging from DRM to police raids and imprisonment, are all ridiculous, either easily circumvented, or the stuff of the dreams of the worst fascists. Knowledge cannot be hoarded. Yet all those points are secondary to the most important, fundamental principle, which that knowledge should not be hoarded.

    Restricting the dissemination of knowledge is anti-educational. At least some censorship, such as Bowdlerization, pretends to a higher moral calling however much it fails to meet its goals as well as cause unintended bad consequences. Copyright, in contrast, has become censorship for the venal purpose of mere rent seeking. Yeah, yeah, copyright is supposed to provide the means by which content is both assigned a fair value and the originators of that content are compensated, but that, everyone should realize, hasn't worked as intended. If publishers were more reasonable, it would not change that they still pretend to ownership of knowledge and art. A nice, gilded cage is still a cage. A nice, kindly slave owner is still a slave owner.

    There are other good reasons to dump copyright. Not least is that we now have the means to build a better system. The same instrument by which copyright is laid low, the Internet, can be the foundation of a new system, based on crowdfunding and patronage. A big negative of copyright is that it reinforces individualistic thinking. What does it mean for a work of art to be considered original? The fact is, all works of art owe a great deal to the efforts of millennia, to create languages, writing systems, cultural traditions, discoveries, inventions, and now, the ability to record and copy as never before. Yet artists seem to feel they deserve all the profit from a work of art, while they, in oblivious shamelessness, use tools in a commodity, work-for-hire manner. They also all work largely alone. Yes, sometimes a few will collaborate, but the lone wolf artist is more common. How much better our art could be, with more collaboration, who can say? Maybe someday fairly soon, we will know. And, the novelist does not pay the descendants of the inventors of pen and paper, nor of the computers upon which word processing software runs, nor of typewriters from which keyboards clearly descended. Nor does the novelist pay the descendants of the pioneers of whatever genre, or meme, or any other plot element, device, or storytelling tradition they use. But they expect society to pay them on that basis?

    Copyright warps everyone's thinking, in more ways than this pandering to wrongheaded individualistic thinking. The art of our culture is soaked clear through with possessive thinking. One example of this is the movie Twister, in which the protagonist is all butt hurt that someone else is using "his" idea. And his feelings are not entirely unjustified either, thanks to the overly simplistic system of awarding all credit to one. Copyright pushes our emotional buttons, triggering our fears of loss. A great many stories have melodrama based upon the loss of or lack of precious knowledge that could never happen if the authors really understood just how very easy copying is. Many artists, perhaps most, are constantly crying that they're being robbed. And then there are the sorts of people who burn books, perhaps out of a sense that it is not utterly impossible to gain possession of every single existing print copy and the typed or handwritten original of some work, and burn them all. It shouldn't be that way, and it doesn't have to be that way. In a good system, artists should be happy that people want to copy what they created.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @01:05AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @01:05AM (#1186336)

      > Copyright, in contrast, has become censorship for the venal purpose of mere rent seeking.

      Think of the children! And the grandchildren! And a few great-grandchildren! Of published works. How will they feed themselves if their ancestor's work does not keep generating sweet royalties?

      • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @01:09AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @01:09AM (#1186337)

        Tell them cocksuckers to drive amazon delivery trucks.