Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Researcher illegally shares millions of science papers free online to spread knowledge

There has been an ongoing controversy over  intellectual property, copyright and ownership of scientific papers for a while now. Basically, academics, usually funded by their governments and hence the public through taxation, do research and publish their results as scientific papers in journals and conference proceedings. These publications are not usually in the public domain, as you might expect, but are owned by private companies that are increasingly being dominated by a few massive multi-national publishers like Elsevier. The publishers then charge the academics and their universities to access the journals and conference proceeding,s even though the academics gave the publishers the rights to their work for free in the first place. Clearly this is crazy and there has been a growing movement to boycott Elsevier for several years now.
This might be going to come to a head soon since a researcher in Russia has made over 48 million journal articles - almost every single peer-reviewed paper published - freely available online. She's refusing to shut the site down, despite an  injunction and lawsuit from Elsevier. Science Alert reports that the Russian researcher is standing her ground "claiming that it's Elsevier that have the illegal business model... referring to article 27 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which states 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".
Now I'm definitely not recommending that you access scientific papers illegally, but if you're interested the Russian website is Sci-Hub.