Open Access is not a Panacea, even if it’s Radical – an Empirical Study on the Role of Shadow Libraries in Closing the Inequality of Knowledge Access.

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2020-39

Institute for Information Law Research Paper No. 2020-05

31 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2020

See all articles by Balázs Bodó

Balázs Bodó

University of Amsterdam - Institute for Information Law (IViR)

Daniel Antal

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zoltan Puha

Tilburg University

Date Written: June 16, 2020

Abstract

Library Genesis is one of the oldest and largest illegal scholarly book collections online. Without the authorization of copyright holders, this shadow library hosts and makes more than 2 million scholarly publications, monographs, and textbooks available. This paper analyzes a set of weblogs of one of the Library Genesis mirrors, provided to us by one of the service’s administrators. We reconstruct the social and economic factors that drive the global and European demand for illicit scholarly literature. In particular, we test if lower income regions can compensate for the shortcomings in legal access infrastructures by more intensive use of illicit open resources. We found that while richer regions are the most intensive users of shadow libraries, poorer regions face structural limitations that prevent them from fully capitalizing on freely accessible knowledge.

We discuss these findings in the wider context of open access publishing, and point out that open access knowledge, if not met with proper knowledge absorption infrastructures, has limited usefulness in addressing knowledge access and production inequalities.

Keywords: shadow libraries, open access, piracy

JEL Classification: Z11, Z13, R19, O17, O3, O34, O52

Suggested Citation

Bodó, Balázs and Antal, Daniel and Puha, Zoltan, Open Access is not a Panacea, even if it’s Radical – an Empirical Study on the Role of Shadow Libraries in Closing the Inequality of Knowledge Access. (June 16, 2020). Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2020-39, Institute for Information Law Research Paper No. 2020-05, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3628326

Balázs Bodó (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Institute for Information Law (IViR) ( email )

Rokin 84
Amsterdam, 1012 KX
Netherlands

Daniel Antal

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zoltan Puha

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC Noord-Brabant 5000 LE
Netherlands

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