Rightholders do not fear torrents as long as they are unusable for the general population.
The second they see something usable — they go berserk.
Gonna need some popcorn to watch this one.
For example this (which sucks):
Versus the actual article:
I should also add that I am also working on a project to incentivising authors to make their work freely available: https://flockademic.com/
(More info here: https://medium.com/p/the-holy-grail-in-open-access-sharing-t... )
Plus sci-hub storage requirements are pretty big, >75 Tb...
I'm not sure how many people would willingly play IPFS hoster for 70TB datasets for free and while not giving a shit about authorities knocking on the door.
+1, especially for the Onion site. Onion service supposed to be a primary mean to host uncensored websites instead of having to look for the latest domain name everyday, unfortunately it seems nobody cares about it. Most of the time I access it from my browser, the front-end proxy was malfunctioning, or the back-end Tor daemon has dead... Tor network itself do have capacity problem, but they could do much better than a broken front-end proxy... e.g. with Onion Balance.
I don't see this lasting long...
Does google generally block proxy servers?
> See you later
> Too much attention is a bad thing, Sci-Bay decides to stop service for a while. Sorry.
Apparently I was not wrong.
This could be developed as a browser plugin that would be much harder or almost impossible for Google to prevent. Well, a Firefox browser plugin, a Chrome browser plugin presumably they wouldn't allow.
"If there's a will, there's a way" comes to mind. Also, the fact that all web pages technically already have an "API" --- it's called "HTTP" ;-)
Good for them, I say.
-> Please show you're not a robot
However, note that they are very anarchic when it comes to commercial books, not just journal articles!
E.g. from the Sci-Bay search results, this is $131 on amazon.com, and quite possibly the authors do want the royalties.
[BOOK] Intelligent optimisation techniques: genetic algorithms, tabu search, simulated annealing and neural networks
D Pham, D Karaboga - 2012 - books.google.com
Cited by 916 Related articles All 3 versions [Download Book]
While that does occasionally happen, it's definitely not true in general. The people I know who wrote academic books did so by taking a sabbatical from their university job and/or working evenings and weekends for the actual writing. Occasionally they can apply for a separate writing grant to cover their lost salary, but that's completely separate from their day job.
Except in many cases it isn't. Most of the people I know who have written academic books did so off the clock and on their own time. Sure the university let them use their university office and resources, and obviously much of the research the book is based on is research they'd already done as part of their job, but the actual writing time and any additional research they had to finance from sources unrelated to their university job.
And about the future, how do you see google responding?
> Don’t misuse our Services. For example, don’t interfere with our Services or try to access them using a method other than the interface and the instructions that we provide.
Despite this, there is scholar.py , which can extract files from Google Scholar, though it explicitly doesn't work around the rate limits.
Unless this actually exploits something and hacks into Google's servers to get to the content, which would be something quite different, it wouldn't really be distinguishable from someone manually visiting the site in a browser, volume aside.
IMHO the pervasive attitude today of somehow requiring permission or an explicitly sanctioned "API" to access what is otherwise publicly accessible data is rather troubling for the freedom and flexibility of the Web as a whole. It encourages walled-garden content models and centralisation.
However, Google doesn't agree and the current court precedent doesn't either. So I tried to address the parent's concern from that viewpoint.
My browser is my User Agent. The way it renders or interprets the data is my business.
"See you later
Too much attention is a bad thing, Sci-Bay decides to stop service for a while. Sorry. Anyone who knows how Sci-Bay works and wishes this tool benefits more academics, please contact: email@example.com"
Any and all arguments, on both sides are very welcome.
There's no real ethical downside - allowing people who wouldn't normally have access to research helps to reduce inequality, and allows human progress to advance a lot quicker than if it weren't open. There are brilliant people of which have no access to research, who could - and would - more likely do something with it than not.
Given that we all pay for science,  from people in the lowest drudges of poverty, to people in the highest skyscrapers in New York, we should all have access to it. Imagine you paid taxes meant to improve roads in your area, but ended up going to a place hundreds of miles away from you. You'll never get to use these roads, and you'll be told you're unethical and unlawful if you even consider using them. It wouldn't be very fair, would it?
I agree with you in spirit - tax payer funded research outputs should be publicly available - but this is what got Aaron Swartz: it is unlawful.
That it lets you freely access some scientific materials regardless of whether the rights owner (or authors, for that matter) agree to it or not is just a minor side-effect.
Anyway, is there any proof that Sci-Hub is part of the Kremlbots, besides Alexandra Elbakyan being from Kazakhstan?
Though this doesn't change the fact project itself is very useful and obviously it's her own personality problems rather than some conspiracy.
Real reason for that Kremlin action was funding of some politics-related book publishing and lectures. For non-profit "foreign agent" mark in practice bring regulation that almost impossible or too expensive to comply with. So Dmitry Zimin just decide to close non-profit.
Then most of people in Russian science community who still live and work in Russia have strong liberal views. Obviously they wasn't too happy about that since it's one one of few non profits in Russia that was actually funding science and education for real. Very few rich people in Russia ever donated anything to science or education so it's a big loss.
Elbakyan "nuanced standpoint" was such that Kremlin doing good job and since Sci-Hub users from Russia didn't agree she just decide to ban whole country.
Sci-hub is there to "expropriate the expropriators" in Lenin's words. That there is some wider benefit to the community is completely secondary.
While you can see my opinion on her personality above I still think you going into extremes regarding the project itself. Keep in mind that she is just end up being face of the project, but there more people working on it, and maintaining Library Genesis too, and dealing with risk of getting into prison for the service they provide to everyone.
So... one could go to prison for doing something that is explicitly illegal in most countries of the world, just so that the "face of the project" can preen about "standing up to the West", and fighting foreign enemies of the people, with the only risk to her being that Putin suddenly does a 180 and she's too slow on the uptake... Or one could, say, work on a viable long-term solution. Maybe setting up a wiki-like, peer-reviewed alternative publication scheme or something.
While the project does provide some benefit (which is not Elbakyan's goal), I just believe that the problem should be solved in an entirely different way -- you should start at the publishing side, not distribution side.
It's enough that few companies like Disney absolutely abused copyright. Yet we can live with it as long as it's just entertainment. Ok, they also put some horrible broken crap like DRM and DMCA and bunch of other things in our lives. Still it's not very important and might be after 10 years it's will be fixed somehow.
This is not the case for science. I can't even explain how wrong it could be to delay progress for years until "proper solution" is there. It's simply not acceptable. Sci-Hub might be illegal crutch, but it's important to have it.
I think good analogy for Sci-Hub would be Uber. It's might be absolutely hateful company for many here on HN that break every rule imaginable. Yet it's significally improved quality of life for millions of people and pushed taxi companies all around the globe to improve service.
PS: Also if you live in the US you might truly don't understand problems Sci-Hub solve, but there are people in ex-USSR who doing science on salary of $300 / month and they have no budget whatsoever on any papers. It's that bad. Yet some of these people still contribute.
I also don't think this is the case when ends justify the means. But stealing is much easier than trying to change copyright laws, let alone setting up a proper alternative publishing system, so there we have it.
As to why... I would hazard a guess that it's because she's neither a good person (far from it, by all indications) nor, really, a particularly bright one.
There's an example posted below of how she is a Putin stooge. Blocking access to everyone in your own country because scientists (you know, ones she is allegedly supposed to help) because the ones who are actually involved in science supported pretty much the only foundation that funds science in Russia when Putin decided to close it...
Sure, yeah, that's who selfless altruists working for the betterment of humanity do, not Kremlin trolls. (insert sarcasm tags appropriately).
Forgive me for not seeing the downside.
And when Russian scientists (real ones, not the ones who write fake dissertations for Putin's ministers) needed that benefit (science in Russia isn't exactly well funded) she yanked the access in the entire country because some of them dared to support someone Putin had targeted.
Sorry, don't see the upside or even much ethical excuse in supporting something that is demonstrably evil just because it might have a beneficial side-effect.
How exactly does it not? There are more college-aged people than ever, and a good portion of them wouldn't have access to a substantial amount of research without Sci-Hub. Similarly, there are more pre-collegiate students than ever who are interested in research. Both of these groups directly benefit from having it. Indirectly, the rest of the world gets more progress and a better standard of living.
> Sorry, don't see the upside or even much ethical excuse in supporting something that is demonstrably evil just because it might have a beneficial side-effect.
Demonstratably evil? I'd love for you to clarify on that.
Demonstrably? I would say that being a communist, in this century, when you can't even pretend that "you did not know" like fellow travelers in 1950's did is a pretty good indication. Her stated goal of "standing up to the West" (which is far from perfect, but really much better than any alternative) and supporting strongmen like Putin (apparently she's also quite fond of characters like Saddam or Qaddafi, too) who do so, to the point of directly and intentionally hurting the very scientists that her project allegedly supports points in that direction, too.
I just really don't get all the hero worship on someone who, at no risk to herself (she's no Edward Snowden or even Aaron Swartz), wants to stick it to the very people who support her. That effort would be far better spent on setting a real alternative publication system.
So, you reading articles off of scihub and expanding on the contained work within directly benefits the author. Just make sure to cite the author if you yourself publish! (Which is actually much less difficult than you might think. Even a blog post can contribute to the field).
(In my view, this is because the personal benefit is not that clear yet, especially if the work is just hidden in some long list of other research. Which is why I'm working on helping them use their research to raise their academic profile: https://medium.com/flockademic/the-holy-grail-in-open-access... )
In a broad sense, there's only very weak analogy to music or film piracy in terms of the process of creative work. Everyone has already paid for scientists to do this science. Scientists and institutions have even paid the journals to publish their work in almost all cases, and they won't reap any reward if you read the work through the legitimate distribution channel. You only pay the publisher, not a starving researcher.
Personally, I'd feel very happy if someone read my papers by any means necessary. That was the whole point of writing them, setting aside the practical annoyance of simply trying to keep my career afloat.
Edit: The lifetime value of a single paper to the journal can actually be priced, since they started charging researchers for open access a few years ago (often in addition to other fees). This number is usually in the $2-5K range per paper, in my field.
Leaving aside the societal merits, our incentives are to get published, then get read. Sci-hub helps with the latter, and doesn't harm anyone except the publishers (who most academics cordially dislike anyway).
In fact, isn't that the problem, that quantity of publications (and citations) is used as a metric for continued employment? Those awarding research grants, etc., don't provide a free open-access publication as the place publication is required.
It seems governments could fix this in favour of the public quite easily; require publication in an open access journal of all research (papers and data) with any funding from the public purse.
Governments and other major research funders are indeed beginning to do what you recommend and mandate various kinds of open access terms on publications. There are multiple options, some of which are reasonably favourable to the incumbent publishers (e.g. delayed OA release with an embargo) and some of which are not (e.g. it goes straight into our public database of funded research on day one). What the end game looks like isn't exactly certain at the moment.
You usually have to apply, and spend countless hours getting permission to spend the money, fill in forms, etc. It's all just too complicated.
Academics don't have time, either to find where the OA content is, or how to access it, and nor do they have time to organise their content to end up open access. It's much better for academics if everything is in one place, and trivially accessible.
Journals should be paying sci-hub to maintain a single repository where all articles are accessible for everyone, trivially, then switch to a model where universities pay only for the services journals are actually providing (in some cases, from what I can tell, none).
The deposit problem is, as you say, a lot knottier. I personally suspect a linked network of institutional repositories with a twelve month embargo may end up as the end state of the current process, which I don't think is good enough.
Sci-hub provides a sociotechnical means of doing differently, and that itself justifies its existence, I think.
Information is produced mostly on tax money, and even when it's not, it's based on tech and info developed on tax money, and all of that is based on millennia of science one way or another the global society produced. I believe it's fair to think I and every other person "own" all of the scientific information already anyways. Even if you don't believe in that, I can't see how the other option is to pour mostly taxpayer money into cancerous organisations that sell what they have not even helped produce.
Against, from a societal point of view: Sci-Hub is no longe-term solution, as it still depends on articles being published elsewhere. Furthermore, there is not yet a proper alternative to the traditional publisher's main contribution: credentialing of academics.
Against, from a point of view of the shareholders of the traditional publishers: if this leads to cancelled subscriptions, they lose money. A case could be made that Sci-Hub has contributed to e.g. most German university libraries cancelling their Elsevier subscriptions this year.
"So this is my argument that Sci-Hub can be ethical. Universalized it would destroy the system – but the system is bad and needs to be destroyed. And although this would break the law, a very slight amount of law-breaking might be a beneficial solution to inadequate equilibria that could be endorsed even when universalized."
The system needs to be reformed, and that is currently happening, peacefully. Perhaps not everywhere at once and perhaps not as quickly as you might prefer, but open access publishing has made great strides in just a few short years.
This doesn't liberate the millions (probably) of academic articles whose authors relinquished their copyright to big publishers, but it is resulting in new tensions like Germany and Elsevier butting heads (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-00093-7) and SciHub and exciting new legislation
No destruction or 'very slight law-breaking' necessary, nor mealy-mouthed 'inadequate equilibria' lies-to-self necessary either. Change is happening, the world doesn't need to go all Mad Max.
You mean SciHub. That's the thing, really; SciHub managed to do much more for the Open Access cause in one single move than the entire "legit" Open Access movement in more than a decade.
Tensions like Germany vs Elsevier are possible, because Open Access is now talking from position of strength - because everyone involved knows that the alternative is not "no access", but "SciHub" or "#ICanHasPDF".
> I would want the laws to carry some force beyond just the barrel of a gun – a high trust society with consistent institutions is really important, and the more people follow the law without being watched the less incentive there is to create a police state. But I also wouldn’t want to live [where every law is enforced 100% of the time]...
Well written article btw.
The movie industry has it's fair share of copyright protectionism (DRM is popular) and same goes for gaming.
Elsevier is worse. They get paid by scientists so they publish their papers. They get paid massive amounts of money by universities (sometimes even the same that paid the scientist) to be granted access to research. Research largely funded by tax money. Research results that had already been paid for to even be published there.
There is a very good article in the SlateStarCodex if you're interested in a more in-depth article on it.
I couldn't find ACM, what does it stand for?