Some Thoughts on Brexit

The United Kingdom has been central in one of the stories that was chosen to dominate the news. No, I’m not going to be writing about the British Library’s termination of its international non-commercial document delivery service today, but the United Kingdom referendum to leave the European Union, “Brexit.”



My previous posting explored the phenomenon of Sci-Hub, a site dedicated to providing free access to more than 50 million academic papers without regard to their ownership status or to copyright laws. This post looks at the legal issues involved, in contrast to the previous post’s articulation of the argument for open access.


Sci-Hub: Research Crusader or Copyright Criminal?

Sci-Hub is an online repository of over 51,000,000 scientific academic papers and articles, available through its website. New papers are uploaded daily after accessing them through educational institutions. Founded by Alexandra Elbakyan from Kazakhstan in 2011, it began as a reaction to the high cost of research papers behind paywalls, typically US$30 each when bought on a per-paper basis. Academic publisher Elsevier has in 2015 filed a legal complaint in New York City alleging copyright infringement by Sci-Hub.

The library of the University of the Basque Country (Vitoria-Gasteiz) scientific journals.

Sci-Hub, and the Fight for Free

Sci-Hub has been around since late 2011, but it has been getting publicity recently for it’s refusal to shut down. The website is an unabashed pirate website that provides access to over 48 million scientific articles and publications. The website’s mission is to, “remove any barrier … impeding the widest possible distribution of knowledge in human society,” and they “advocate for cancellation of intellectual property, or copyright laws, for scientific and educational resources.” Certainly strong language, but not an unsympathetic cause–helping researchers and the public bypass academic paywalls.