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dr. frankenstein

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When Kazakhstani computer programmer Alexandra Elbakyan learned recently that she had been targeted for investigation by the US Department of Justice, she says she wasn’t particularly surprised.

 

“I suspected that the US government was investigating a long time ago, because that is obvious, that a project like Sci-Hub would look suspicious to them,” Elbakyan told Quartz. “But I did not have any information about this.”

 

Elbakyan, a notorious and self-admitted hacker, is the creator of Sci-Hub, a free collection of scientific journal articles—tens of millions of them—that are normally locked behind a paywall. Sci-Hub offers 85.2% of all paywalled journal articles in the world, and more than 97% of those published by Elsevier, the largest science publisher in the United States. There are at least 373 universities in 39 countries with networks that Sci-Hub has penetrated. Last week, allegations emerged that Elbakyan hacked into the systems of 39 British universities.

 

Citing sources inside the agency, the Washington Post last week reported that the Justice Department had opened an investigation into Elbakyan. According to the Post, US authorities believe Elbakyan has links to Russian intelligence, in part because the sheer scale of Sci-Hub’s activities make it likely she is acting with the tacit approval, if not the assistance, of the Kremlin. 

 

Full Quartz Article

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She's right, of course. And the CIA is right to have questions, of course. It's just that making research papers globally free makes it sound less like a Russian plot or line of interest to me. She did what many a researcher has said ought to be done and what many orgs said would be useful. My guess is that people are tired of losing out on royalties, and like Napster, she's on someone's radar for impeding the power of the dollar going into someone's pocket. 

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