Paper piracy sparks online debate : Nature News & Comment
"Every day, scientists around the world illegally download tens of thousands of research papers from a website called Sci-Hub. Even researchers at universities who, presumably, have legitimate access to journals flock to the site. The news, reported in Science last week, set off a global online conversation about what’s driving such widespread scientific piracy. Although publishers decry the use of Sci-Hub, many researchers celebrated the website and its founder, Alexandra Elbakyan, a graduate student from Kazakhstan ... Elbakyan created Sci-Hub in 2011 out of frustration when she couldn’t access the articles she needed. Elsevier sued the site and won an injunction in a New York district court last year that shut the website down, only for it to reappear under a different domain, Sci-hub.io. On the day of theScience story, the Sci-Hub twitter account reported that the io domain had been blocked in many places, but it popped back up on sci-hub.bz and sci-hub.cc. The article, written by journalist John Bohannon, used data provided by Elbakyan to reveal that Sci-Hub received requests for 28 million documents in 6 months from September 2015 to February 2016. By the end of February, users were downloading more than 200,000 document requests a day. The papers came from many major academic publishers: mostly from Elsevier, but also from Springer Nature, and even open-access ones such as the Public Library of Science (PLoS). Tehran, the source of 1.27 million download requests, was the city with the most Sci-Hub users, and Moscow and Beijing followed closely behind. But many university towns across the United States and Europe were also hotbeds of Sci-Hub activity during this period ... In the Science report, an unnamed representative of the publishing industry suggested that academic librarians are largely responsible for illegal downloads because they do not make online systems user friendly to researchers. This triggered a series of tweets from John Dupuis, a librarian at the Steacie Science and Engineering Library at York University in Toronto, Canada ... "