Celebrating a Decade of Knowledge. A conversation with Sci-Hub’s Alexandra Elbakyan | Institute of Network Cultures
flavoursofopenscience's bookmarks 2021-04-21
Interview by Hoçâ Cové-Mbede
In March 2021 London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit issued a warning towards students and universities to stop visiting Sci-Hub, the first website in the world to provide mass and public access to millions of research papers, a project designed, programmed and maintained by Alexandra Elbakyan since 2011.
The press statement displays terms and compounds such as malicious, phishing, compromised access, cybercrime, bad actors, fraud and hacking in order to build a specific profile that speculates around the active use of the site. The move is not surprising or impressive for Sci-Hub’s standards, since its rise as one of the most important sources/archives for scientific research globally, Elbakyan has been dealing with constant turmoil: suspensions from social media platforms, permanent blocks, takedown orders, legal prosecution for copyright infringement, spying accusations, censorship and media backlash.
But not all sides are hostile in advance, the scrutiny and feedback taken from public and private conversations about the apparatuses that paywall database-knowledge for profit also devised a reputation for Elbakyan during all these years, cementing her as an unparalleled figure to talk about digital + bypass redistribution (aka the Robin Hood of Science Publishing), and not only that, Sci-Hub’s way to operate and interact puts interesting question marks on the limits of online ownership and the involvement of academic institutions regarding open access.