06 November 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Sci-Hub blocked in the US

Sci-Hub has been blocked in the US and must pay $4.8 million to the American Chemical Society (ACS) after a US district court entered a default judgment and injunction against it.

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.

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