Pirates in the Library – An Inquiry into the Guerilla Open Access Movement
Paper prepared for the 8th Annual Workshop of the International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property, CREATe, University of Glasgow, UK, July 6-8, 2016.
19 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2016
Date Written: July 6, 2016
2016 is the year when piracy finally became an unavoidable topic in the domain of scholarly communications. The public exposure of Sci-Hub, a copyright infringing site that provides free access to paywalled journal databases, electrified the decade old debates about the role of scholars, (commercial) publishers, libraries, and copyright in creating an environment, where results of scholarly inquiry are equally accessible for all.
This article gives insight into the Guerilla Open Access (GOA) movement, which is responsible for the creation and maintenance of massive, copyright infringing, freely accessible online shadow libraries of scholarly works: journal articles, monographs, textbooks. It reconstructs the developments in the western and global academia and scholarly publishing which led to the birth of the movement, and identifies some of the factors its ongoing existence depends on.
The article discusses several aspects of the GOA movement: the alliance of scholars in the global centers and at the global peripheries, the alliance of public and clandestine operations, and its relationship with, and its differences from the Open Access (OA) approach, which aims to facilitate the accessibility of scholarly communications through legal means.
The goal of this article is to contribute to the discussions of the future of scholarly communications through the description of a phenomenon which poses the single greatest challenge to the scholarly publishing status quo in recent history.
Keywords: piracy, scholarly publishing, open access, guerilla open access, sci-hub, library genesis, library, Elbakyan, Swartz
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