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KNOWLEDGE FOR ALL: Millions of scientific papers formerly locked behind pay wall now free to DL

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posted on Feb, 16 2016 @ 12:52 PM

With a net income of more than $1 billion, Elsevier is one of the largest academic publishers in the world. The company has the rights to many academic publications where scientists publish their latest breakthroughs. Most of these journals are locked behind paywalls, which makes it impossible for less fortunate researchers to access them. is one of the main sites that circumvents this artificial barrier. Founded by Alexandra Elbakyan, a researcher born and graduated in Kazakhstan, its main goal is to provide the less privileged with access to science and knowledge. The service is nothing like the average pirate site. It wasn’t started to share the latest Hollywood blockbusters, but to gain access to critical knowledge that researchers require to do their work. After Googling for a while Alexandra stumbled upon various tools and services to bypass the paywalls. With her newly gained knowledge, she then started participating in online forums where other researchers requested papers. When she noticed how grateful others were for the papers she shared, Alexandra decided to automate the process by developing software that could allow anyone to search for and access papers. That’s when Sci-Hub was born, back in 2011.

“The software immediately became popular among Russian researchers. There was no big idea behind the project, like ‘make all information free’ or something like that. We just needed to read all these papers to do our research. Now, the goal IS to collect all research papers ever published, and make them free,” she said.

Of course Alexandra knew that the website could lead to legal trouble. In that regard, the lawsuit filed by Elsevier doesn’t come as a surprise. However, she is more than willing to fight for the right to access knowledge, as others did before her.

“Thanks to Elsevier’s lawsuit, I got past the point of no return. At this time I either have to prove we have the full right to do this or risk being executed like other ‘pirates’,” she says, naming Aaron Swartz as an example.

“If Elsevier manages to shut down our projects or force them into the darknet, that will demonstrate an important idea: that the public does not have the right to knowledge. We have to win over Elsevier and other publishers and show that what these commercial companies are doing is fundamentally wrong.”

The idea that a commercial outfit can exploit the work of researchers, who themselves are usually not paid for their contributions, and hide it from large parts of the academic world, is something she does not accept. “Everyone should have access to knowledge regardless of their income or affiliation. And that’s absolutely legal. Also the idea that knowledge can be a private property of some commercial company sounds absolutely weird to me.”

Most research institutions in Russia, in developing countries and even in the U.S. and Europe can’t afford expensive subscriptions. This means that they can’t access crucial research, including biomedical research such as cancer studies.

So aside from the public at large, Sci-Hub is also an essential tool for academics. In fact, some researchers use the site to access their own publications, because these are also locked behind a paywall. “The funniest thing I was told multiple times by researchers is that they have to download their own published articles from Sci-Hub. Even authors do not have access to their own work,” Alexandra says.

Instead of seeing herself as the offender, Alexandra believes that the major academic publishers are the ones who are wrong.

“I think Elsevier’s business model is itself illegal,” she says, pointing to article 27 of the UN declaration on human rights which reads that “everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts, and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits."

The paywalls of Elsevier and other publishers violate this right, she believes. The same article 27 also allows authors to protect their works, but the publishers are not the ‘authors,’ they merely exploit the copyrights.

Alexandra insists that her website is legal and hopes that future changes in copyright law will reflect this. As for the Elsevier lawsuit, she’s not afraid to fight for her rights and already offers a public confession right here.

“I developed the website where anyone can download paywalled research papers by request. Also I uploaded at least half of more than 41 million paywalled papers to the LibGen database and worked actively to create mirrors of it.

“I am not afraid to say this, because when you do the right thing, why should you hide it?” she concludes.

(Text bolding is mine)

Link to full article

And here's the site with the goods ⬇

This restrictive access to cutting edge scientific info seems so incredibly wrong... I'm reminded of days long past, where the masses were kept as ignorant as possible by hiding from them the ability to read, write, and share information among themselves. And how financially unfair is it, forcing the authors of these ideas to sign away the rights to their own work and their own words, so that they collect nothing while these publishers rake in piles of cash? It undoubtedly slows scientific advancement, and keeps potentially brilliant (but less than wealthy) minds from the information they require to thrive and grow. Even universities like Harvard have ceased subscribing to Elsevier journals, because it just isn't affordable.

I doubt this amazing repository of scientific knowledge will be available for much longer at this particular place, so help yourselves while you can, as I intend to!

And I encourage you to read up on the case of Aaron Swarz- he did something very similar, and died soon after in a very suspicious hanging death that was quickly and quietly labeled a suicide.

"Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves." -Aaron Swarz

NOTE TO MODS: This topic was posted once before, some days ago. But the link provided in that post no longer works, and the window for the author to edit their post has closed. Given the subject and the value of the contained information, I think an updated post is warranted.
edit on 2162016 by M4nWithNoN4me because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 16 2016 @ 01:18 PM
a reply to: M4nWithNoN4me

You are right, information should be free. As free speech is a human right information should also be free. Very positive news IMHO.

posted on Feb, 16 2016 @ 01:41 PM
I hate pay walls on academic sites it's disgusting I very much believe knowledge and information should be available to any and everyone that wants to access it.

I remember when I was in school we used to have to go to one of the larger universities to do research sometimes as my school didn't have subscriptions to some of the larger research paper providers and at $15-25 per article it would have cost way too much. For larger reports you would have 20-30 citations at minimum. That starts to add up really quickly.

On a sort of related note, the government is just as bad if not worse with hiding info from the public. I worked for three years researching wildlife with federal grants. Our plan throughout all that time was to share all our data publicly online and everywhere we could. This was in our grant proposals every year of the project. Then, in our second year, we found what was potentially an endangered species. That was the end of any information sharing. They threatened to withold our money if all our data wasn't submitted to a federal database for them to decide what would be made public.

So in the end we had to listen if we wanted to keep working on the project so all our awesome online maps and databases we set up for the project never got used and as far as I know most of our data never got released to the public, despite us being funded by public money.

posted on Feb, 16 2016 @ 06:34 PM
Its the elites way of restricting information to those who are less well off.....
The top oppresses downward insidiously.....
Im on this ladys side 100% ....where do we sign up?

posted on Feb, 16 2016 @ 06:35 PM
One difference with the napster and pirate bay court cases is that the content creators are not getting paid either way. Will Elsevier be willing to disclose its cash flow as it tries to take down I know it does not cost $1 billion to store and retrieve a few million files so what service is being provided and is it value for money?

These days I search Google Scholar when looking for something with a bit more meat in it. I did come across some of these subscriber searches when first at uni, but did not get into them myself.

With another report today US Marshals Are Arresting People For Not Paying Student Loans, is there a better way to match up the economic costs and rewards of education?

posted on Feb, 17 2016 @ 11:51 PM
The link published in this thread does not go to the correct site. And this Torrentfreak article is from last year.

The links in the previous thread from Feb 12th still work:
Nearly 50 million research papers freely available by Mastronaut

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