The US District Court for the Southern District of New York found the defendants guilty on 21 June of willfully infringing Elsevier’s copyright behind various scholarly articles.
The court calculated the award based on a representative sample of 100 infringed works and has forced US domain registries to suspend the defendants’ domain names.
Sci-Hub and the Library Genesis were rehosting academic papers on their websites without a paywall.
Elsevier obtained a preliminary injunction in 2015, which stopped the sites from offering access to infringing content and suspended some of their domains.
In a statement, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) said that Sci-Hub had “illegally accessed the secure computer networks of a large number of major universities by, among other methods, hijacking ‘proxy’ credentials, and compromising some 51 million protected works”.
Maria Pallante, president and CEO of the AAP, backed the decision, arguing that the court had “not mistaken illegal activity for a public good”.
Instead, she said the ruling had “recognised the defendant's’ operation for the flagrant and sweeping infringement that it really is and affirmed the critical role of copyright law in furthering scientific research and public interest”.