ACS filed a lawsuit at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in June against Sci-Hub owner Alexandra Elbakyan, demanding $4.8 million and alleging that Elbakyan had infringed its copyright by making its catalogue of more than 150,000 research papers available on the Sci-Hub website.
ACS also claimed that Sci-Hub had cloned aspects of its website and committed trademark infringement and counterfeiting.
Elbakyan didn’t respond to the litigation, leading to ACS seeking a default judgement in the case.
Sci-Hub is similar to The Pirate Bay, but instead offers illegal access to research papers and scientific journals.
According to PeerJ Preprints, an open-access peer review website, Sci-Hub contains nearly 69 percent of all 81.6 million scholarly articles in circulation. This number rises to 85 percent for those published in closed-access journals.
Alongside the damages demand, ACS had proposed an injunction that would prevent search engines, web hosts, internet service providers and domain registrars from facilitating access to Sci-Hub. It also demanded that all domain registries for Sci-Hub place its domains on hold.
ACS said that Sci-Hub’s “unabashed flouting of US copyright laws merits a strong deterrent”.
The court granted the injunction in its entirety, as well as the $4.8 million award.
Sci-Hub has been hit with a string of adversity, including a copyright lawsuit from Elsevier in June, which resulted in a $15 million damages award for the publishing company.
Sci-Hub has also shut down operations in Russia, blocking access to users from the region, after local scientists named a parasitic insect after Elbakyan.
Elbakyan said in a statement that scientific publications and publishers are the “real parasites” and “Sci-Hub, on the contrary, fights for equal access to scientific information and makes a useful case”.
Access in Russia has since been restored.