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Publisher Gets Carte Blanche to Seize New Sci-Hub Domains (torrentfreak.com)
297 points by beefman on April 12, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 163 comments

I'm actually surprised this whole suit is being pursued by a professional society. Closed publications seem to be out of line with the interest of their members. Unless the society makes substantial money from their publications, which is unlikely[0], it's hard to see what the motivation of this organization would be and why the members of the society haven't loudly complained against it. I'd really expect a suit from this to come from Elseiver or NPG.

[0] From talking to a few representives of sceintific societies it sounds like they usually produce thier journals at or around cost.

Cartels often like to protect their elite or scarce stature. Even if one has an elevated respect for the type of people that belong to a given society (eg scientists or researchers), they're going to likely more often than not be no better than doctors or plumbers or any other professionals when it comes to being human: ie they will act in their perceived self-interest to put up barriers that benefit their position.

I think farmers are remarkable people, broadly speaking. They feed us all. Who deserves more gratitude than people that do that, right? Well, farmers love their tariffs and protectionism. They lobby like crazy for it all around the world. Nearly everyone wants artificial protection when they can get it.

Nobody is confused when labor unions do the exact same thing. This is all about restricting a resource, restricting distribution, tightly controlling it for the supposed benefit of the members (often at the expense of non-members).

Controlling prestige via distribution, etc. is one way to control stature and prevent dilution. Scientists & common researchers often don't get paid super well, one of the things they do have is acquired prestige. Restricted publication/distribution is a way to control who gets to be prestigious or not.

> I'm actually surprised this whole suit is being pursued by a professional society. Closed publications seem to be out of line with the interest of their members.

Not exactly.

I fully recognize that Elsevier and Springer Verlag have behaved so obnoxiously that they make everything I'm about to say sound ridiculous, but nevertheless, here goes.

"If you're not the customer, you're the product."

When I get the latest issue of (say) IEEE Transactions On What I Do For a Living, I want to know that the editors did their best to solicit and round up the best new work on advancing the state of the art in my specialty, and that the manuscripts they received check out and are worthy.

That takes money, because the editors have bills to pay and can't really do this on a volunteer basis. Even though the peer reviewers are volunteers, getting them to volunteer is itself work. And the work starts by filtering the slush out so you're not asking the reviewers to look at stuff that's utter crap.

Advertiser support is not appropriate here. "This issue of IEEE Power And Energy is brought to you by Xformer Corp. (So don't even think about discussing in these pages how our transformers blow up more often than should happen in polite society.""

Author support is even less appropriate, with all due respect to the PLOS line of journals.

And yes, the professional societies try to price subscriptions and downloads so their budget is at break-even, which is why they have an interest in getting subscriptions and payments from as many people as possible, i.e. by not making the PDFs available for free. If everyone in EECS joined IEEE, membership fees would go down, and they could add Transactions access to the standard membership package.

I do still think it's counterproductive to crack down on Sci-Hub. Ultimately, what we need is a micropayments system that makes paying for downloads too seamlessly easy to be worth dodging. If Venmoing for PDFs took less time to set up and use than going to Sci-Hub, this would be moot.

Yeah, everything you said is ridiculous.

Journals are very much a profit center for the publishers. Scientific journal publishing is a wildly profitable business[1][2][3] and it is not all the clear that these profits are commensurate with journal quality. They are almost certainly monopoly rents. And the idea that membership fees pay for the journals is also silly. It's well known that it's institutions who pay the outrageous subscription fees for the journal that are actually powering this racket.

The interesting point here is that Sci-Hub isn't really a threat to the publishers. Like with most piracy it's not clear that the people using Sci-Hub would purchase the papers if Sci-Hub weren't available. And no matter what the publishers can always count on those fat institutional subscription fees. And that's what this is really about. The ultimate danger of Sci-Hub is that it undermines the very idea of a journal. Individual scientific papers become the unit of trade and people will take those papers on an a la carte basis. SciHub, if it were left alone, would unbundle science publishing and you'd see a drastic fall in profits.

This is all about money and protecting a wildly profitable business model. The idea that this is about supporting editors is ridiculous.

[1] https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/elseviers-profits-...

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jun/27/profitable-b...

[3] https://medium.com/@jasonschmitt/can-t-disrupt-this-elsevier...

> Journals are very much a profit center for the publishers.

For Elsevier, Springer, WIley, yes.

For IEEE? For ACS? For AIP? Not so much.

> nd it is not all the clear that these profits are commensurate with journal quality

THey're not. I shouldn't have to pay $35 dollars for an Elsevier PDF when Elsevier didn't even have the decency to spend some of that money on copy editing to help authors who don't speak good English.

But I should pay a price. Because the alternative is for someone else to pay, someone who does not have my interests at heart.

Since when do you need to pay just to download a PDF ? Just remember there's peer to peer, and that the web is not a big black box where you can only deal with giant companies and their websites - there's freedom in it too.

Also: I think your attitude is quite symptomatic of a certain laziness of the research community, which has helped these counterproductive monopolies to rise and strive. Get angry, for once, because this is getting ridiculous.

If the value that the journal is providing is curatorial, then that's what they should charge for - give the papers away, charge for the table of contents.

> The interesting point here is that Sci-Hub isn't really a threat to the publishers.

I'm not sure if you can say that. Consortia of universities in both France and Germany have recently decided not to renew their contracts with one of the big publishers, and although it's hard to pin down to what extent motivations contribute, one could very well make the case that they have been able to do so because they have less pressure from academics to retain subscriptions - thanks to Sci-Hub.

How much money do you think it costs? Peer reviewers aren't paid. The typesetting is low quality and done in India. Difficult bits like figures and tables must be done by the author with no help from the journal. The printed copies are low quality and contain advertising.

Part of the cost is that the editors have to read through everything to filter what goes to the peer reviewers. If you keep sending junk to the reviewers, they drop out of reviewing.

The most logical funders of journals are the university via their libraries. They pay lion's share of the money under the current system. And competition isn't really doing much in this particular industry. A guess free riding could be an issue, but they are all non-profits to begin with.

What if

We could have a nonprofit with transparent accounting which would make it easy to check the cost of each issue

And a subscription model priced to pay for that cost

And a payment system allowing to pay a similar amount per issue, with up to 2x the cost of each issue after which access becomes free.

Or a similar model which covers the expenses and pays very well without attempting astronomical profits.

I kind of like the AIP model. Articles are free for 1 month from the date they are published. I also recall AIP having an entire month of free access a couple of years ago, however I don't know if this is a regular thing (say yearly or so).

If paywalling is required to put journals together, how do fields such as computational linguistics manage with all open-access journals?

If your field is narrow, and the participants are collegial, then the peer reviewed journals are mostly there to formalize the banter your colleagues put out on mailing lists. Easy to do for cheap.

Other fields, not so much.

It seems like ACS publishes C&EN which comes free with a membership, so is probably a draw for people becoming members, which is probably(?) where most of their revenue comes from; they could reasonably see Sci-Hub as a threat to their membership revenue.

No. ACS is a publisher for a large number of journals. As a nonprofit, their financials are fully available online. Member dues are a tiny slice of their revenues.


Nice find! So it looks like they have almost half a billion in "Electronic services" revenue, which I assume is their electronic publishing business.

Given it is a professional association, can its members pressure it to get out of the publishing business?

Its expenses are huge too, which seems odd; where is 384 million dollars going?

It appears to be more than one company, for starters. They frankly seem more like an investment or holding company in some ways: The accompanying consolidated financial statements include the accounts of the American Chemical Society and its related entities, which consist of ACS International, Ltd., a wholly owned international marketing services subsidiary, and Hampden Data Services, Ltd., a wholly owned chemical information software company. The consolidated financial statements also include the accounts of the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, an endowment fund established to advance scientific education and research in the petroleum field, and the American Chemical Society Insurance Trust, a grantor trust established to enable members of the Society to purchase insurance coverage through group insurance policies. All significant interorganizational transactions have been eliminated. The accounts of the Society’s chapters, referred to as local sections and divisions, are not included in the Society’s consolidated financial statements because the Society does not have a financial controlling interest in its chapters.

A number of societies I am a member of depend on journal revenue for a substantial portion of their activities.

And yet there are whole fields that are dominated by open-access journals; presumably they also have societies, and those societies have found alternate business models.

That someone is going to be forced to change their business model does not strike me as a compelling argument for the current system.

Maybe that is a serious problem.

"pursued by a professional society"

This is the ACS.

The ACS has fought hard against competition for decades.

You can contact the plaintiff’s Board of Directors by calling (800) 227-5558 or sending an e-mail to secretary@acs.org [1].

Here is a list of their Board of Directors: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/about/governance/board/bo... . See a person or organisation you know? Let them know your thoughts about this.

[1] https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/about/governance/board/co...

Wikipedia’s Sci-Hub entry guides one to live addresses [1]. Would this ruling censor Wikipedia?

Also, who is defending Sci-Hub? Is there anyone who would be in a position to challenge or appeal this ruling? Or do we have to wait for the ACS to demand censorship from a registrar with balls?

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sci-Hub

I wonder that as well - I recently made https://whereisscihub.now.sh, which parses the Wikidata API to always link to an available version of Sci-Hub. Technically, it just transform content from one location to a different format, but yeah... It might stop working if Wikimedia would be forced to remove their links.

Anyway, Alexandra Albakyan (who is behind Sci-Hub) is unlikely to defend it with anything else than written statements, given that she's from Kazakhstan or Russia and is unlikely to come to the US given several earlier injunctions against Sci-Hub.

A lot of people could appeal the ruling, including the Wikimedia foundation if they were being forced to remove those links. I’m not sure, but my impression of this ruling is that it would probably be overturned on appeal.

That sounds like something up the EFF's park, doesn't it?

Sci-Hub: the Internet’s second most censored publication. (And altogether easier to support morally, ethically, aesthetically than the first one.)

Boycotting ACS seems like a nice idea, but it would be challenging for professional chemists.

Wait, what’s the first?

Daily Stormer, which has gone through 20+ domains in the past 18 months, was the first site to get kicked off Cloudflare for content/no court order, constant attacks on hosting facilities, etc.

Is it truly "censorship" though, if one is so aggressively distasteful and difficult to deal with that nobody wants to do business with them?

Daily Stormer was taken down as a result of 0 court orders. If I'm on someone's platform and I either break their rules repeatedly or invite attacks on them, it's not exactly censorship if they get tired of putting up with my shit and remove me. VPS operators repeatedly warn me that if I invite frequent DDoS attacks, they will remove me from the service. They have a say in how their own platform operates.

White national socialists/identitarians sell themselves as the most censored people on the Internet as if they hold information just begging to be released and practiced. Only, there's no redeeming value to the content of their information; it ranges from callous disregard of people based on race, to the outright extermination of anyone who disagrees with the cause. All of these "beliefs" effectively incite people to attack them, regardless of how well you may articulate them. It's little different from me repeatedly challenging blackhats to disable my VPS.

The only thing they really succeed in doing, is being the Internet's biggest pain in the ass to do business with. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what Cloudflare did.

Removing something perfectly legal, because public opinion is against them is cowardly.

Being a company that advertises DDoS mitigation and then drops a customer, because they get attacked a lot, is a cop out.

Being a company that will argue that they are not responsible for what their customers post legally, while by contrast dropping customers based on their content is pretty much censorship.

Don't think for a minute that dropping Daily Stormer wasn't just about public opinion and turning bad PR into good PR.

Cloudflare didn't drop Daily Stormer because of public opinion, but because of claims by Daily Stormer that Cloudflare supported Daily Stormer:

Our team has been thorough and have had thoughtful discussions for years about what the right policy was on censoring. Like a lot of people, we’ve felt angry at these hateful people for a long time but we have followed the law and remained content neutral as a network. We could not remain neutral after these claims of secret support by Cloudflare.[1]

Dropping them for that is 100% justified in my book.

[1] https://blog.cloudflare.com/why-we-terminated-daily-stormer/

Why couldn't have they made a public statement that they do not endorse the Daily Stormer, reasserted that Cloudflare's business is not political activism and warned them that future claims like this would lead to termination? After all, Cloudflare's CEO describes the act itself as "dangerous", as a one-time act that would never happen again(at least, until someone else does the same thing?), etc..

The CEO doesn't seem to agree with you on this being 100% justified:

> Let me be clear: this was an arbitrary decision. It was different than what I’d talked talked with our senior team about yesterday. I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet. … It was a decision I could make because I’m the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company.

[1] https://gizmodo.com/cloudflare-ceo-on-terminating-service-to...

(I was unable to source the claims that the Daily Stormer made about Cloudflare supporting them. I seem to remember the Daily Stormer denying they made those claims. It seems pretty important to know the actual catalyst for a major breach in company policy, but it doesn't seem to be reported anywhere I looked).

> claims by Daily Stormer that Cloudflare supported Daily Stormer

claims by an anonymous person in their comments

fake excuse based on comment contents though from what i understand...

It can be, at least with regards to distasteful. “Difficult to work with” is clearly a perfectly acceptable reason to ditch a customer.

My reason for saying “can be” is that a few friends of mine are members of a fetish website which had to ban certain entirely legal (in the USA) content because all the (USA) payment providers found it too disgusting. (For extra irony, I think the entire premise of the site makes it illegal to view with images switched on in the UK where my friends are, but that presumably hasn’t had any effect on the payment providers or my friends might have mentioned it).

And this is why Daily Stormer stays permanently available on TOR... which is the direction Sci-Hub should go.

Two of the domains the judge ordered to be disabled are "sci-hub.onion, scihub22266oqcxt.onion" - I kind of laughed when I read that.

Sci-Hub already has an onion service : http://scihub22266oqcxt.onion/

SciHub isn't the second, CloudFlare is obeying a court order on this one. The DS incident was one where they didn't have a warrant.

Yes, but the “any domain with sci-hub in it can be taken down without further legal action” is not standard for actions against domains; usually it is seizure or other action against specific domains.

Cloudflare isn’t a monopoly/chokepoint to the extent that actions against domain registries (via registrars) are.

Does this bode poorly for my go-to site to talk about my favorite celebrity, pesci-hubbub.com ?

This is an important point, although in practice the publisher would not go after your talk site, even if they are seemingly given the legal power to do so, meaning that the legal system never corrects itself from issuing these overly broad injunctions (until it's too late and someone deliberately abuses this weakness).

What's more worrying is what happens when the publishers go back to court to complain that Sci-Hub are changing their name to avoid the block, from sci-hub -> sky-hab -> psy-hob -> buy-tub -> fly-tab -> ... At what point does the court just empower the publisher to shut down any site they choose, like a DMCA takedown request?

> At what point does the court just empower the publisher to shut down any site they choose, like a DMCA takedown request?

It's not that big of a problem as you think. even if there's no stipulation that it can only be used to shut down the science paper sharing site operated by Alexandra Elbakyan, it's the intent that matters. using it to shut down [unrelated site] will likely land them in hot waters with the judge.

Of course, the Plaintiffs have no reason to do this to a random joe - it's more interesting when it happens to someone the ACS would be legitimately interested in pursuing. Reading the language of the injuction and amendment, it seems that the focus isn't even so much on sci-hub itself, but rather protecting the copyrighted material of the ACS. It seems like Ebalkyan could host a sci-hub-sans-acs.org with materials not copyrighted by the ACS. It also seems that you can't really trick it by having say, Ms Janina Kowalska registering centrum-nauki.org and serving all the content that appears on sci-hub.

I'm also not clear on the specific mechanics behind the injunction. Let's say that Ebalkyan does create sci-hub-sans-acs.org and claims all the copyrighted works are removed, can they still block it preemptively? Does Ebalkyan have to submit evidence that she's removed the copyrighted works? Can they demand action against anyone else that "seems" to be sci-hub? Is there a level of evidence they must meet? It kinda sucks to be ignorant of a legal system which can have so much impact in your life...

If they shut down a competitors site and then claim it was just a mistake they will probably not be in trouble at all but they would cause a lot of trouble for their competitor.

Taken down or siezed?

I would have guessed Pirate Bay...

I thought the reference was to The Pirate Bay.

That's not true--the most censored websites are actually inaccessible.

He did say "the most censored publication", not website.

I'm not sure how Sci-Hub qualifies as a publication, but many publications are inaccessible due to censorship.

It's interesting that this sort of thing is happening just as more and more research is piling up showing that the old peer review publishing model is less effective in every possible way than open publishing on the Internet. Errors get caught faster without journals involved. Corrections are published faster without journals involved. Bad science doesn't stick around as long without journals involved. They're just not a thing we need any more. And this is where we will find out how they actually feel about the notion that the thing which provides the better value should win in the market.

Can you get grant funding without them?

I don't know enough about grant funding to hazard a real guess. That is an interesting issue, though. I presume that grant committees are not typically staffed by people well-versed in the subject area? Would they not be capable of recognizing a global acceptance of an applicants prior work without a fallible journal citation? I know that in many fields the amount of other work which cites a given publication is a very important factor, perhaps that would play a role?

What position would it put journals in if they were reduced to providing vetting for grant committees? If instead of being arbiters of scientific validity, which they are poorer at than open publishing, they simply become some sort of thing similar to ratings agencies that provide parents with an unreliable best-effort guide to content acceptability without needing to actually learn about the thing in detail?

For the US at least, grant committees are almost always staffed by people with subject area expertise.

For NIH, there are two levels of SME- one non gov and one gov.

Does SciHub need an actual domain name? Could they provide their website on a well-known IP address, kind of like CloudFlare's DNS? Other people could build websites that redirect to or reference this known IP address.

(Or can IP addresses be seized too? I assume not, or else I'd expect the actual SciHub website to be shut down, not just the DNS names pointing to it.)

Edit: It looks like SciHub is in fact available on certain IP addresses. The following website lists a few of them: https://whereisscihub.now.sh/ - one example is

We ought to have some kind of DNS alternative that doesn’t allow this sort of thing to happen.

Last time this happened, sci-hub posted DNS servers that you can use. and

I like the idea of a bare IP address instead of relying on DNS at all, but that seems to prevent use of HTTPS.

Technically speaking, HTTPS can work with IP addresses --- the certificate just has to be issued for the IP.

But for SciHub, HTTPS is another point of censorship: the CA could simply revoke the certificate, making people believe that the site is insecure.

There's nothing stopping them from releasing their own root CA or their users accepting a self-signed cert. A pain in the ass, absolutely, but not insurmountable.

>that seems to prevent use of HTTPS.

notable counter-example:

it doesn't work for internet explorer though.

Interesting. It appears to be kept in an extension, the regular CN field is for .cloudflare-dns.com:

Not Critical DNS Name: .cloudflare-dns.com IP Address: IP Address: DNS Name: cloudflare-dns.com IP Address: 2606:4700:4700::1111 IP Address: 2606:4700:4700::1001

I'm surprised a CA would sign a certificate for that, but OK.

They do, but you probably have to pay for the plan that includes manual checking. Works for IPv6 too: https://[2606:4700:4700::1111]/

They could just operate a .onion to work around the whole thing. I think they already do?

> They could just operate a .onion

scihub22266oqcxt.onion [1]

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sci-Hub

The article mentions that that onion address is in the list of domains that are "included but not limited to" in the injunction.

Good luck to ACS getting a .onion address seized... WHatever their legal injunction says.

Its more funny than that. The onion addresses are now published in that very document for everyone to find.

I mean... That's theoretically funny, but I don't think anyone who knows what a .onion is had any problem finding Sci-Hub's.

I'm sure they do. But we really need a more user friendly secure, decentralized DNS alternative. I know there was some noise in the Ethereum community about an ENS domain name system. Is anything likely to come of that?

dns-on-blockchain idea was already tried with namecoin. it doesn't seem to be very popular today. I'm not sure why reimplementing it in ethereum is going to magically make the idea more popular.

I'd really, really like to see Namecoin succeed. It's not gained wide adoption to this point but it's not a dead technology.

Further, it can be integrated well within the current DNS infrastructure - granted, without the censorship/security protections offered by the natively decentralized nature of running a full node yourself. There's absolutely no reason a DNS server couldn't maintain a list of entries for .bit domains.

Because Ethereum

They do, but I don't believe it's possible to access a .onion without going through Tor, which has some major downsides:

- You need to install a special browser

- The connection is going to be pretty slow

- Poor security due to no https; an exit node could inject bad stuff into downloaded PDFs

- Unreliability, as of right now sci-hub.tw is fine for me, but the .onion won't load at all. I've found other sites with both .onion and normal URLs to be similarly less reliable.

> - You need to install a special browser

no, only tor

> - The connection is going to be pretty slow

not really

> - Poor security due to no https; an exit node could inject bad stuff into downloaded PDFs

there is no exit node for hidden services, the domain name is the public key, you get end-to-end crypto without https

> - Unreliability, as of right now sci-hub.tw is fine for me, but the .onion won't load at all. I've found other sites with both .onion and normal URLs to be similarly less reliable.

well, that depends ...

The crypto that protects a Tor hidden service is much weaker than you can have in HTTPS.

However the CA/B rules that allow certificates for .onion at all (it's not an Internet TLD and private names were outlawed years ago for good reason) require the certs to be validated to a named organisation. So if you aren't legal or insist on real anonymity then that's not going to work for you.

Actually, it's much better. For exemple, it doesn't really on trusted third parties, which HTTPS does (and that's how a lot of country abuse it).

Look at https://blog.torproject.org/tors-fall-harvest-next-generatio... .

There was a conference also where they were explaining the new crypto but I can't find it right now.

EDIT: It was at defcon 25, here is the VOD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di7qAVidy1Y

> The crypto that protects a Tor hidden service is much weaker than you can have in HTTPS.

Could you explain what you mean by that?


The Tor hidden services actually being used (as evidenced by the .onion address given above being relatively short) are what's called "v2" hidden services. You will see other people saying, oh, this is all fixed, Tor hidden services are much safer now. And maybe v3 really is better, although their documentation sure has a lot of TODO / FIXME lines for a "finished" protocol version. But that doesn't matter so long as in reality it's v2 hidden services people are using, so that's the subject of my critique.

The first scary thing is a v2 hidden service's uniqueness depends upon 80-bits from a SHA-1 hash. Technically although SHA-1 is broken that's not a hole in this part on its own, but for comparison HTTPS is using SHA-256. 80-bits is also worryingly small. I clearly can't guess my way to an 80-bit second pre-image using what I know today, but if a further crumbling of SHA-1 gives me a boost maybe it's possible.

Next is the public key crypto used, this is 1024-bit RSA. I think you might technically be allowed to still do this in HTTPS, but I haven't seen it for years, everybody is either 2048 or 4096 bits, or they've moved to an elliptic curve that's stronger.

Now, I should be clear all this seemed pretty good when Tor was invented, and the new stuff in Hidden Services v3 is pretty good today. But cryptographic recommendations don't age very well, and Tor sat on this problem for far too long, if the above .onion name was a v3 name and I was seeing widespread reliance on v3 hidden services I'd have shut up.

>The crypto that protects a Tor hidden service is much weaker than you can have in HTTPS

Do you have some sort of citation or source on that? I would love to read about a reputable cryptographer taking apart Tor's network security (if only so we can improve it).

I was half expecting to see something related to alt DNS roots


That is what I'd call running your own DNS :)

I would just edit my hosts file for those IPs, but cool hack!

You can stil use the generator for that.

Would putting everything on sci-hub on IPFS help?


*> Several service providers are not receptive to US Court orders. One example is Iceland’s domain registry ISNIC and indeed, at the time of writing, Sci-Hub.is is still widely available.

Why is ISNIC different?

Because not every country/company will let the US legal system steamroll people.

They have no legal obligation to, so it's up to their discretion.

I think one of the biggest factors is that they run their own registration. A lot of the little countries outsource their registration to american companies such as verisign. ISNIC says they will only take down a domain on order of an Icelandic court.

What kind of domains have Icelandic courts requested to be taken down?

I haven't been able to find any instances of the courts requesting take-downs. But the registry has removed some ISIS domains on their own accord.

ISIS must be peeved they can't get the cute is.is URL.

I'd buy that domain and run something fun on it. No idea what but I'm sure there is a list somewhere.

But that would probably not end well for me. Or anyone associated with that domain.

Suggestion: Neopagan Egyptian-pantheon products.

(There’s also a river of that name in England, which caused some recent problems for those nearby).

So confused. DNS registrars can be mandated to reject domain ownership? What about DNS registrars outside of the US?

Also..... at some point we could just publish a list of IP's if we care enough, right? Although that's less than ideal.

How would a Wikipedia DNS work? It seems like this would be a useful service as people move toward some weird morality-based instead of law-based way of living life.

This is a topic that I want to see if transhumanists have researched as this becomes really important post-singularity.

Some transhumanists have done thought experiments and research on it, and I would say that the most digestible version of the "morality-as-law" system is in the Eclipse Phase RPG.

It would lead to filter bubbles.

Lots of non-US TLDs run over US-based registrars.

There are some, like Iceland, which run their own registrar and aren't connected to the US. Which means they don't care what the US says until an Icelandic court agrees.

Is the article itself subject to the judge's prior restraint on the basis on mentioning a known working website for sci-hub?

Further, does this discussion page itself "facilitate access" by virtue of people mentioning a working sci-hub website?

What limits are there to the gag order? How much rights do you have left to speak of sci-hub online? Do you have any?

I run a rare disease wiki, which makes extensive use of sci-hub links to bypass journal article paywalls. Patients (including myself) can't otherwise access research on their own conditions.

How should I keep my links working? Should I link to stable IP addresses? Mirror papers to IPFS? Link to the onion address, via a public tor gateway? Host my own DNS server to point at sci-hub?

Bonus points for keeping https cert validation working!


Someone posted this on HN a while back.

Note also that you can use it just like regular Sci-Hub, i.e. you can append a paywalled link to https://whereisscihub.now.sh/go/ to be redirected to the unpaywalled version.

Speaking of Unpaywall: that's actually the name of a browser extension that can give you legal open access versions of paywalled articles. See https://unpaywall.org/

Rewrite all the external links before displaying them to something like: /redir?url=http://... (using a filter or by manually creating a plugin on your Wiki software) then on your /redir endpoint you can redirect to the proper URL if it changes.

I think mirroring things to IPFS is a perfect use case for this. Especially with IPFS companion[1], it's really easy for visitors to access your content.

[1]: https://blog.ipfs.io/35-ipfs-companion-2-2-0/

Do you volunteer to be the main pin, and thus provider, for them?

No, do you?

From the article it sounds like both .onion and .is domains are safe for the time being. The .is domain should be easier to use.

>How should I keep my links working?

Build functionality that lets you mass-update all scihub links across your site, and manually update it whenever a domain goes down

Or link to .onion versions (and a link to TOR)

Or stop linking

Might be worth linking to a clearnet service that loads .onion sites, since this isn't a very privacy-conscious usecase and that would probably have a higher success rate than asking people to download a new internet browser

> since this isn't a very privacy-conscious usecase

Doing research on you own medical condition is not something you may want to keep private? Or are you talking about something else and I'm misreading your post?

Sorry for the late response. I agree that it's something that you may want to keep private but is not something you necessarily want to or even can hide from the government (compared to other .onion use cases where the advice is categorically "do NOT use a clearnet gateway, you will be arrested and convicted", like buying drugs).

You should do all of the above. Make the links into a manual redirect/landing page that offers links to the IP, the onion addresses, a public tor gateway, a page describing how to find sci-hub, [perhaps] also make your "own" torrents, dumb links to search engines (possibly with .pdf behind the search query) AND to make it really nice also link to the services that sell the document.

Onion links are in general not very stable, and the other option is basically running your own cache/proxy. But if you just want access, http://paperdownloader.cf works.

>Patients (including myself) can't otherwise access research on their own conditions.

This is one of the best arguments for true open access. Rare disease research is often more likely to be hidden behind a paywall because of the limited number of niche journals that will publish this research.

Host the documents yourself?

Not everyone wants to deal with lots of teardown notices and other possible fallout.

That is what using IPFS means.

Distributed detached root DNS anyone? A twitter bot that returns IP addresses to #icanhazscience ? I don't think they can prevent this.

Another comparatively difficult-to-block option is a bookmarklet that runs some JS to retrieve the latest IP address from some server somewhere.

I don't really want to switch to somebody's random DNS servers to use SciHub, but dragging a bookmarklet to your browser toolbar is pretty easy.

Not my website, but: https://whereisscihub.now.sh

And also reminds people that the court orders needed to be handled in court. The *AAs won in court and had the mechanisms of state power bent to their needs.

Would it help to move IPV6 only?

That doesn't change the rendezvous problem where people have a name or a mnemonic and they want the IP address. Although, if you could get a "memorable" IPV6 address then you might be able to finesse it. Of course people can black hole and IP address as well which makes it challenging, so perhaps a couple of hundred IPV6 prefixes with rotating addresses.

Could the articles be hosted on ipfs? I say that because one of ipfs's stated goals is overcoming censorship.

They could. It's a bit inconvenient to pin things now (you can't just say "I want to pin 5 GB of SciHub") and IPFS is slow to resolve new content, but it should work very acceptably.

I'm not sure if this would work, but what about hosting a node that you can manually add to your bootstrap list? Would that make getting the content quicker?

Edit: Oh, amd why couldn't I just pin the top node of the dag recursively? Wouldn't that basically do what you want?

> what about hosting a node that you can manually add to your bootstrap list?

I tried that and it didn't help :/ I think there's a bug in fetching content, because I was requesting the files from a node connected directly to mine (which I knew had the files) but still could not retrieve them. Hopefully 0.4.14 will work a bit better.

Wouldn't pinning the top node of the DAG pin everything? How would you restrict it to X GB?

If you can't remember what domain(s) Sci-Hub is on this week, why not make it all of them?


I really wish the publishers got together and started a netflix like service for journals. I would gladly pay to use such a service per month.

you are mistakenly believing netflix had an extensive up-to-dat3 catalog. They do not, in comparison there are many netflix-like distributors of science papers. Google Scholar, sci hup and the like bind those together.

Any pointers for an aggregator that has acm/springer/ieee?

Sci-Hub bot on Telegram is still up: https://t.me/scihubot

The publishers are an enemy of a free Web, and we mus not let them encroach upon our territory without repercussions, or else the next thing we know the Web will look like cable TV.

Does a blockchain alternative to sci-hub exist yet?

Blockchains aren't useful for storing large amounts of data, so this probably won't happen. Blockchain as a distributed database + IPFS maybe.

Blockchains can be good for storing links to large amounts of data, but that doesn't directly solve the fundamental problem here.

Storj[1], as I understand it, is an attempt at decentralized storage of large amounts of data. I'm curious if it could be used to host papers in a way that's difficult or impossible to censor?

1: storj.io

What would happen if they started writing the articles to a blockchain? It would be functionally impossible to remove, right?

If you start a blockchain made of copyright violation, it's going to be legally about the same as a torrent, and you'll get hit for connecting at all.

There's already plenty of legally questionable stuff in Bitcoin's blockchain:


Thus, it would be better (if it could be afforded --- see some of the other comments on cost estimates) to continue there, or perhaps one of the other altcoins that's already in use for monetary purposes.

It's very incidental, though, and most of it could be purged with mild effort.

The whole point of a blockchain is that it's append-only. Each block has a hash of the previous block. If you wanted to modify a Bitcoin block from a year ago, you'd have to do the same computation as a year worth of all miners.

The blocks are hash trees, and you don't need to store the whole tree. Purging depends on that, not altering the block history.

What if all servers would hold some random bits and no one would have any whole file (only the clients would be getting whole files)

The talk of holding "random bits" reminds me of the idea behind the Owner-Free File System:


Basically people would be hosting random-looking blocks of data, but users could be instructed to XOR two carefully chosen blocks together, producing a meaningful file.

Because of the nature of XOR, if Alice sees that Bob is hosting a file F, she could generate and host a file G, such that F XOR G produces a banned file, providing plausible deniability for Bob (as long as he can point to a file H such that F XOR H produces an innocent file).

The durability would depend on how many people cared to host that particular blockchain.

For a popular blockchain like teh bitcoin, it would cost quite a lot to introduce much data.

At 30 satoshi per byte, 5 gigs would be about 50 bitcoins. At $7, that’s only$350k right?

That’s a pretty awesome Kickstarter project.

or you can host it on some offshore/for/ipfs server and pay $100

Good point. But since there’s not much usage yet, they can block ipfs. They can’t block bitcoin.

Until somebody adds CP.


While I think the change Sci-Hub is driving towards more open access is a good thing, I do also feel like Sci-Hub is destined to be the martyr here. From the big picture this is more just the pieces going through the almost inevitable (in some form) motions that will get us hopefully ultimately to better future (with legitimate open-access), but that won't be helping Sci-Hub whose position from a purely legal perspective pretty clearly in the "wrong" side.

So was MLK and people made the same argument and (horribly and sadly) he was.

Obviously, copyright on publicly funded research isn’t the same priority as civil rights in the US, but hopefully we learned enough so we don’t make more martyrs for just causes.

The “dumb law is illegal, therefore let’s follow it anyway” is not something I agree with by default. There are quite a few laws that need fixing.

I think a problem with that mentality is that it's antidemocratic. Basically you're saying that potentially the only laws you'll recognize are those with which you agree.

If other citizens were to also adopt that policy, we'd literally have anarchy.

From the standpoint of American government it was never intended to be a democracy. "Democracy" was feared by the Founders, who saw it as mob rule.

As for picking and choosing what laws one recognizes as legitimated, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr put it better than I can:

> One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."


> If other citizens were to also adopt that policy, we'd literally have anarchy.

My first response to this is that we already follow this policy. Have you ever exceeded the speed limit? Have you ever consumed an illegal substance? Have you ever fixed something in your home that requires a permit without obtaining one? The simple fact of the matter is that everyone violates the law, every day, consciously or not.

My second response is to question whether or not this form of anarchy, where each individual is responsible for their own actions and communities are responsible for establishing and enforces their own standards of behavior through social pressure, is a bad thing at all. I don't believe it is.

> I think a problem with that mentality is that it's antidemocratic.

It is only antidemocratic if you have democracy. Can you really put a question "should the scientific research be published for free" to a popular vote in your country?

Have you met our national leadership lately? America is undemocratic.

> whose position from a purely legal perspective pretty clearly in the "wrong" side.

Can you cite which laws in the defendant's jurisdiction you base this assessment on?

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