Sci-Hub: 'Pirate Bay for scientists'
afalex169 at gmail.com
Tue Feb 16 04:33:15 PST 2016
Sci-Hub: Russian neuroscientist running 'Pirate Bay for scientists'
- with 48 million free academic papers -
... to remove all barriers in the way of science
By Mary-Ann Russon - February 15, 2016
A website illegally offering academic papers for download is fighting back
against a copyright infringement lawsuit in the US and has no intention of
giving up Sci-Hub
*knowledge to all*
*We fight inequality in knowledge access across the world. The scientific
knowledge should be available for every person regardless of their income,
social status, geographical location and etc.*
*Our mission is to remove any barrier which impeding the widest possible
distribution of knowledge in human society!*
Sci-Hub, a website dubbed the "Pirate Bay for scientists" by offering
peer-reviewed academic papers to download for free, is thumbing its nose at
copyright holders following an infringement lawsuit battle in the US.
Sci-Hub <http://sci-hub.io/> is the brainchild of Alexandra Elbakyan, a
neuroscientist from Kazakhstan who is now based in Russia. When she was
writing her thesis in 2009, Elbakyan found it difficult to access the
research she needed to complete her work, as she needed to download many
papers, and each paper retailed for up to $30 (£21) each.
To get through her thesis, Elbakyan was forced to download pirated versions
of the academic papers for free, and eventually, after being introduced to
a website that enabled researchers to share and trade the academic papers
they needed with people who had paid for them, she decided to take the idea
further and create her own website around 2011 or 2012.
Tricking journals with university proxies
Today, the Sci-Hub website boasts 48 million academic papers and has now
gone viral, because it features technology similar to anonymising proxy
websites. Rather than just enabling users to search for and extract the
papers they need, the Sci-Hub website is programmed to automatically search
for papers on important topics and work out how to download them to its
database without spending a penny.
Since various universities in the world have paid subscriber access to
different premium journal services, the website is able to automatically
trawl through different university proxies to trick the relevant journal's
website into believing that the user accessing the academic paper has the
relevant credentials similar to a paying customer.
Once the paper is unlocked, Sci-Hub then downloads the paper to its
database and even looks for other missing papers on similar topics to
download, so that all the researcher has to do is initiate a search, and
the paper will come up, ready to be downloaded for nothing.
Apart from using Sci-Hub, the only way for researchers to gain access to
research papers without paying for them is to ask people they know, or post
on Twitter using the hashtag #Icanhazpdf
*Sued for copyright infringement and blocked in the US*
At its peak in 2015, the website received 80,000 visitors a day, according
to Nature magazine
and had become so popular that academic publisher Elsevier
<https://www.elsevier.com/> brought a copyright lawsuit against the
website, claiming that it had lost between $75,000 - $150,000 in revenue
due to the piracy.
On 28 October 2015, a New York district court found in favour of Elsevier
and placed a temporary injunction against Sci-Hub, as well as suspending
access to the website's Sci-Hub.org domain, which has caused visitor
numbers to drop to 30,000 a day. But other than that, not much else can be
done to physically stop Elbakyan as she has no US assets to forfeit nor is
she a US citizen, so, just like Pirate Bay's multiple domain names
she quickly moved the website to Sci-Hub.io, where it continues to be
"There should be no obstacles to accessing knowledge, I believe," Elbakyan
told RT <https://www.rt.com/news/332412-scihub-scientific-articles-pirate/>.
"[According to Article 27 of the United Nations Declaration of Human
Rights], everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life
of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement
and its benefits."
Moving to the Dark Web
Not only that, but Elbakyan has also moved Sci-Hub's servers onto the Dark
Web – a section of the internet not discoverable by conventional means,
such as through Google or other search engines or by directly entering a
website URL. This is where cybercriminals typically list illegal goods and
services like drugs, firearms and hackers-for-hire and using the Tor
as a cloak to protect their real identities.
Even better, there are a huge number of scientists in the world actively
supporting Sci-Hub and even posting YouTube tutorials on how to download
papers for free from <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEDRMMZHjCo> the
piracy portal, especially since revolting against Elsevier's high prices in
2012, with even Harvard University telling its staff that it could no
longer afford the journal price hikes
in the same year.
"Even if legal access to [Sci-Hub] is blocked, the user can still get in
through the TOR network and immediately gain access to all the articles,"
said Elbakyan. "However, we intend to fight for free access to all
information. After all, using TOR still provides obstacles."
Read more about illegal downloading:
- I can haz PDF: Academics tweet secret code word to get expensive
research papers for free
- Dallas Buyers Club: Australian judge refuses to unmask 4,726 alleged
- US federal judge: IP address not enough to prove someone downloaded
- People accused of online piracy win $450,000 from Warner Bros and
Rightscorp in class action lawsuit
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Hasbro being sued for allegedly
pirating brony font Generation B
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