Avast: Pirate Libraries
July 26, 2016
They are called “pirate libraries,” but one would be better-served envisioning Robin Hood than Blackbeard. Atlas Obscura takes a look at these floaters of scientific-journal copyrights in, “The Rise of Pirate Libraries.” These are not physical libraries, but virtual ones, where researchers and other curious folks can study articles otherwise accessible only through expensive scientific journal paywalls. Reporter Sarah Laskow writes:
“The creators of these repositories are a small group who try to keep a low profile, since distributing copyrighted material in this way is illegal. Many of them are academics. The largest pirate libraries have come from Russia’s cultural orbit, but the documents they collect are used by people around the world, in countries both wealthy and poor. Pirate libraries have become so popular that in 2015, Elsevier, one of the largest academic publishers in America, went to court to try to shut down two of the most popular, Sci-Hub and Library Genesis.
“These libraries, Elsevier alleged, cost the company millions of dollars in lost profits. But the people who run and support pirate libraries argue that they’re filling a market gap, providing access to information to researchers around the world who wouldn’t have the resources to obtain these materials any other way.”
The development of these illicit repositories traces back to Russia and its surrounds, where academics had a long history of secretly sharing documents under the repressive Soviet Union. In the 1990s, this tradition began to move online; one of the first pirate-library websites was Lib.Ru. Since then, illegally shared knowledge from more parts of the world has been made available, particularly from Western publishers and universities. Furthermore, the speed with which materials make it online has increased considerably.
Which is more worthy: protecting the stranglehold academic journals have managed to legally establish, and profit from, on research and other information? Or allowing people who possess great curiosity, but who lack deep pockets, to access the latest research? The scholarly pirates have made their choice.
Cynthia Murrell, July 26, 2016
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on July 26, 2016. Information is at this link: http://bit.ly/29tVKpx.