Sci-Hub is a Russian Web site that contains pirated copies of millions of research papers.
Given that many of these papers are hidden behind hefty paywalls, it is no surprise that Sci-Hub has proven popular among researchers, especially independent researchers or researchers in third world countries, whose institutions cannot afford huge journal subscription fees.
Journal publishers do provide a service (at least those few journals that still take these tasks seriously) as they go through a reasonably well-managed peer review process and also perform quality copy editing. But… the bulk of the value comes not from these services, but from the research paper authors and the unpaid peer reviewers. In short, these publishers take our services for free (worse yet, often there are publication charges!) and then charge us again for the privilege to read what we wrote. No wonder that even in the generally law-abiding scientific community there is very little sympathy for journal publishers.
Nonetheless, publishers are fighting back, and the American Chemical Society just won a case that might make it a lot harder to access Sci-Hub from the US in the future. For what it’s worth, it hasn’t happened yet, or maybe we are immune in Canada:
$ dig +short sci-hub.io 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 $ traceroute sci-hub.io [...] 9 126.96.36.199 (188.8.131.52) 46.916 ms 44.267 ms 66.828 ms 10 184.108.40.206 (220.127.116.11) 31.017 ms 29.719 ms 29.301 ms
I don’t know, but to me it looks as just another case of using the legal system to defend a badly broken, outdated, untenable business model.