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Scientists unite against publishers seeking ban on free science info websites

On December 21, Elsevier, Wiley and the American Chemical Society (ACS) filed a suit in the Delhi High Court seeking a ban on websites Sci-Hub and LibGen, citing that they uploaded scientific research papers, academic information giving free access to all.

Written by Anjali Marar | Pune | Updated: December 26, 2020 1:25:02 am
Delhi High court, Science Websites, Science Websites ban plea in delhi hc, LibGen, LibGen ban, indian express newsSignatories include scientists from other IISERs, Indian Institute of Science, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences among other noted national institutes.(Representational)

Over 2,000 scientists, researchers and students have started a signature campaign against a legal suit jointly filed by three international academic publishers in the Delhi High Court, to ban two popular science websites.

On December 21, Elsevier, Wiley and the American Chemical Society (ACS) filed a suit in the Delhi High Court seeking a ban on websites Sci-Hub and LibGen, citing that they uploaded scientific research papers, academic information giving free access to all.

Till Friday evening, The Breakthrough Science Society, an Indian voluntary organisation promoting science, had gathered 2,235 signatures of scientists and researchers against the suit.

The society condemned the business model adopted by the international publishers, some of whom own around 6,000 journals across science streams. Scientists are required to pay anywhere between $30 to $50 per research paper for access in case the journal is without a subscription.

“We strongly oppose any form of commoditisation of research information, which is a hindrance to the development of science and humanities. In the interest of the advancement of knowledge, Sci-Hub and Library Genesis (LibGen) should be allowed to operate in India,” read the society’s press statement issued Friday.

The Indian scientific community has hailed the efforts of these open access websites. Sci-Hub, for instance, is a scientific website operated by Kazakhstan researcher Alexandra Elbakyan, which offers research papers, scientific books and information for free.

“We support the individual effort of Ms Elbakyan and such operations of websites must not be discontinued in India. The payment to access these international journals is not affordable for Indian scientists,” said Soumitro Banerjee, the society’s general secretary and senior Physics faculty at Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) – Kolkata.

Signatories include scientists from other IISERs, Indian Institute of Science, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences among other noted national institutes.

The society does not plan to take up the matter legally as of now, said Banerjee, adding, “But we will be sending the signed letter to the government and the Delhi High Court next week.”

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