(26 Dec 2020) Three academic publishers are asking for blocking of Sci-Hub and Libgen in India, two websites who provide free downloads of research publications and books to research scholars and students. The three—Elsevier Ltd., Wiley India Pvt. Ltd., American Chemical Society—have filed a petition in Delhi High Court, which is now scheduled to be heard next on January 6.
The publishers, who have filed similar suits in other countries as well, would have us believe it is them versus the pirate sites. What they hide is that there is another community involved here, students, teachers and research scholars, whose access to these journals would virtually end if the publishers have their way in court. This would have serious and long term consequences for science and technology in India.
Who are these three publishers in Delhi High Court? Elsevier, Wiley and American Chemical Society together publish 40% of scientific publications. If we take the five top publishers, they control more than 50% of the publications in science and social sciences worldwide, one of the largest concentrations of market power in any sector. Journal publishing is a $10 billion industry, with one of the highest profit margins of any sector. The profit margin of Elsevier is 37%, twice that of Google, the latter under attack globally for its monopoly practices and super-profits.
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