library genesis in Constant 2016

: Manuscripts and Printed Books in Europe, A
Long-Term Perspective from the Sixth through Eighteenth
Centuries. The Journal of Economic History (2009) http://
• Mattern, Shannon. Library as Infrastructure. Places Journal
• Antonić, Voja. Our beloved bookscanner. Memory of the
World (2012)
• Medak, Tomislav; Sekulić, Dubravka; Mertens, An. How to:
Bookscanning. Memory of the World (2014) https://
• Barok, Dusan. Talks/Public Library. Monoskop (2015)
• In Solidarity with Library Genesis and
Science Hub (2015)
• Battles, Matthew. Library: An Unquiet History Random
House (2014)
• Harris, Michael H. History of Libraries of the Western World.
Scarecrow Press (1999)
• MayDay Rooms. Activation (2015) http://
• Krajewski, Markus. Paper Machines: About Cards &
Catalogs, 1548-1929. MIT Press (2011) https://

For updates:

1. For an economic history of the book in the Western Europe see Eltjo Buringh and Jan Luiten Van Zanden, “Charting the ‘Rise
of the West’: Manuscripts and Printed Books in Europe, A Long-Term Perspec

: Manuscripts and Printed Books in Europe, A
Long-Term Perspective from the Sixth through Eighteenth
Centuries. The Journal of Economic History (2009) http://
• Mattern, Shannon. Library as Infrastructure. Places Journal
• Antonić, Voja. Our beloved bookscanner. Memory of the
World (2012)
• Medak, Tomislav; Sekulić, Dubravka; Mertens, An. How to:
Bookscanning. Memory of the World (2014) https://
• Barok, Dusan. Talks/Public Library. Monoskop (2015)
• In Solidarity with Library Genesis and
Science Hub (2015)



• Battles, Matthew. Library: An Unquiet History Random
House (2014)
• Harris, Michael H. History of Libraries of the Western World.
Scarecrow Press (1999)
• MayDay Rooms. Activation (2015) http://
• Krajewski, Markus. Paper Machines: About Cards &
Catalogs, 1548-1929. MIT Press (2011) https://

Dernière version:

1. 1. Pour une histoire économique du livre en Europe occidentale, voir Eltjo Buringh et Jan Luiten Van Zanden, « Charting the
‘Rise of the West’ : Manuscripts and Printed Books in

library genesis in Custodians 2015

//” Accessed November 30, 2015.  ↩
7. In fact, with the TPP and TTIP being rushed through the legislative process, no domain registrar, ISP provider, host or human rights organization will be able to prevent copyright industries and courts from criminalizing and shutting down websites "expeditiously".  ↩
8. “[Court Orders Shutdown of Libgen, Bookfi and Sci-Hub.](” TorrentFreak. Accessed November 30, 2015.  ↩
9. “[Guerilla Open Access Manifesto.](” Internet Archive. Accessed November 30, 2015.  ↩

scandalously high that even Harvard,
the richest university of the global north, has complained that it cannot
afford them any longer. Robert Darnton, the past director of Harvard Library,
says "We faculty do the research, write the papers, referee papers by other
researchers, serve on editorial boards, all of it for free … and then we buy
back the results of our labour at outrageous prices."2 For all the work
supported by public money benefiting scholarly publishers, particularly the
peer review that grounds their legitimacy, journal articles are priced such
that they prohibit access to science to many academics - and all non-academics
- across the world, and render it a token of privilege.3

Elsevier has recently filed a copyright infringement suit in New York against
Science Hub and Library Genesis claiming millions of dollars in damages.4 This
has come as a big blow, not just to the administrators of the websites but
also to thousands of researchers around the world for whom these sites are the
only viable source of academic materials. The social media, mailing lists and
IRC channels have been filled with their distress messages, desperately
seeking articles and publications.

Even as the New York District Court was delivering its injunction, news came
of the entire editorial board of highly-esteemed journal Lingua handing in
their collective resignation, citing as their reason the refusal by Elsevier
to go open access and give up on the high fees it charges to authors and their
academic institutions. As we write these lines, a petition is doing the rounds
demanding that Taylor & Fr

her small publishers that are being rolled over
by the growing monopoly and concentration in the publishing market. These are
just some of the signs that the system is broken. It devalues us, authors,
editors and readers alike. It parasites on our labor, it thwarts our service
to the public, it denies us access6.

We have the means and methods to make knowledge accessible to everyone, with
no economic barrier to access and at a much lower cost to society. But closed
access’s monopoly over academic publishing, its spectacular profits and its
central role in the allocation of academic prestige trump the public interest.
Commercial publishers effectively impede open access, criminalize us,
prosecute our heroes and heroines, and destroy our libraries, again and again.
Before Science Hub and Library Genesis there was or Gigapedia;
before Gigapedia there was; before there was little; and
before there was little there was nothing. That's what they want: to reduce
most of us back to nothing. And they have the full support of the courts and
law to do exactly that.7

In Elsevier's case against Sci-Hub and Library Genesis, the judge said:
"simply making copyrighted content available for free via a foreign website,
disserves the public interest"8. Alexandra Elbakyan's original plea put the
stakes much higher: "If Elsevier manages to shut down our projects or force
them into the darknet, that will demonstrate an important idea: that the
public does not have the right to knowledge."

We demonstrate daily, and on a massive scale, that the system is broken. We
share our writing secretly behind the backs of our publishers, circumvent
paywalls to access articles and publications, digitize and upload books to
libraries. This is the other side of 37% profit margins: our knowledge commons
grows in the fault lines of a broken system. We are all custodians of
knowledge, custodians of the same infrastructures that we de

library genesis in Dekker & Barok 2017

taken down. This is of course particularly
pertinent, especially since while we’re doing this interview
Sean and Marcell are being sued by a Canadian publisher.

That is absolutely true and any of these websites can disappear any time. Archives like Aaaaarg, Monoskop or UbuWeb
are created by makers rather than guardians and it comes





Fuller, Matthew. ‘In the Paradise of Too Many Books: An Interview with
Sean Dockray’. Mute, 4 May 2011.

articles/paradise-too-many-books-interview-seandockray. Accessed 31 May 2016.
Online digital libraries
Library Genesis / LibGen,
Memory of the World,





library genesis in Dockray, Forster & Public Office 2018

from readers’ Kindle devices because of a change in the commercial agreement
with the publisher.)

So, what happens to these minor libraries? They are innumerable, but for the
sake of illustration let’s say that each could be represented by a single
book. Gathered together, these books would form a great library (in terms of
both importance and scale). But to extend the metaphor, the current reality
could be pictured as these books flying off their shelves to the furthest
reaches of the world, their covers flinging open and the pages themselves
scattering into bookshelves and basements, into the caring hands of relatives
or small institutions devoted to passing these words on to future generations.

While the massive digital archives listed above (, Library Genesis,
Sci-Hub, etc.) could play the role of the library of libraries, they tend to
be defined more as sites for [biblioleaks](
Furthermore, given the vulnerability of these archives, we ought to look for
alternative approaches that do not rule out using their resources, but which
also do not _depend_ on them.

Dat Library takes the concept of “a library of libraries” not to manifest it
in a single, universal library, but to realise it progressively and partially
with different individuals, groups and institutions.

## Archival properties

So far, the emphasis of this README has been on _durability_ , and the
“accidents of the archive” have been instances of destruction and loss. The
persistence of an archive is, however, no guarantee of its _accessibil

library genesis in USDC 2015

er’s copyright rights in the Works and all profits
Defendant realized as a result of its acts of infringement, in amounts to be determined
at trial; or in the alternative, awarding Elsevier, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504, statutory
damages for the acts of infringement committed by Defendants, enhanced to reflect
the willful nature of the Defendants’ infringement;
G. Enter an order disgorging Defendants’ profits;


Case 1:15-cv-04282-RWS Document 1 Filed 06/03/15 Page 16 of 16

t the URL “,” and related subdomains, including but not limited to the subdomain “,”,” “,” and various subdomains
incorporating the company and product names of other major global publishers (collectively with the “Sci-Hub Website”). The domain name is registered by
“Fundacion Private Whois,” located in Panama City, Panama, to an unknown registrant. As of
the date of this filing, the Sci-Hub Website is assigned the IP address This IP address is part of a range of IP addresses assigned to Petersburg Internet Network Ltd., a webhosting company located in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

6. Upon information and belief, Defendant Library Genesis Project is an organization which operates an online repository of copyrighted materials accessible through the website located at the URL “” as well as a number of other “mirror” websites
(collectively the “Libgen Domains”). The domain is registered by “Whois Privacy
Corp.,” located at Ocean Centre, Montagu Foreshore, East Bay Street, Nassau, New Providence,


Case 1:15-cv-04282-RWS Document 1 Filed 06/03/15 Page 3 of 16

Bahamas, to an unknown registrant. As of the date of this filing, is assigned the IP address This IP address is part of a range of IP addresses assigned to Ecatel Ltd., a web-hosting company located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

7. The Libgen Domains include “,” “,” “lib.estr

to the university’s
network using a proxy connection. Universities offer proxy connections to their students and
faculty so that those users may access university computing resources – including access to
research databases such as ScienceDirect – from remote locations which are unaffiliated with the
university. This practice facilitates the use of ScienceDirect by students and faculty while they
are at home, travelling, or otherwise off-campus.
Defendants’ Unauthorized Access to University Proxy Networks to Facilitate Copyright

Upon information and belief, Defendants are reproducing and distributing

unauthorized copies of Elsevier’s copyrighted materials, unlawfully obtained from
ScienceDirect, through Sci-Hub and through various websites affiliated with the Library Genesis
Project. Specifically, Defendants utilize their websites located at and at the Libgen
Domains to operate an international network of piracy and copyright infringement by
circumventing legal and authorized means of access to the ScienceDirect database. Defendants’
piracy is supported by the persistent intrusion and unauthorized access to the computer networks


Case 1:15-cv-04282-RWS Document 1 Filed 06/03/15 Page 8 of 16

of Elsevier and its institutional subscribers, including universities located in the Southern District
of New York.

Upon information and belief, Defendants have unlawfully obtained and continue

to unlawfully obtain student or faculty access credentials which permit proxy connections to
universities which subscribe to ScienceDirect, and use these cre

valid authorization.

The Sci-Hub website requires user interaction in order to facilitate its illegal

copyright infringement scheme. Specifically, before a Sci-Hub user can obtain access to
copyrighted scholarly journals, articles, and books that are maintained by ScienceDirect, he must
first perform a search on the Sci-Hub page. A Sci-Hub user may search for content using either
(a) a general keyword-based search, or (b) a journal, article or book identifier (such as a Digital
Object Identifier, PubMed Identifier, or the source URL).

When a user performs a keyword search on Sci-Hub, the website returns a proxied

version of search results from the Google Scholar search database. 1 When a user selects one of
the search results, if the requested content is not available from the Library Genesis Project, SciHub unlawfully retrieves the content from ScienceDirect using the access previously obtained.
Sci-Hub then provides a copy of that article to the requesting user, typically in PDF format. If,
however, the requested content can be found in the Library Genesis Project repository, upon


Google Scholar provides its users the capability to search for scholarly literature, but does not provide the
full text of copyrighted scientific journal articles accessible through paid subscription services such as
ScienceDirect. Instead, Google Scholar provides bibliographic information concerning such articles along with a
link to the platform through which the article may be purchased or accessed by a subscriber.


Case 1:15-cv-04282-RWS Document 1 Filed 06/03/15 Page 9 of 16

information and belief, Sci-Hub obtains the content from the Library Genesis Project repository
and provides that content to the user.

When a user searches on Sci-Hub for an article available on ScienceDirect using a

journal or article identifier, the user is redirected to a proxied version of the ScienceDirect page
where the user can download the requested article at no cost. Upon information and belief, SciHub facilitates this infringing conduct by using unlawfully-obtained access credentials to
university proxy servers to establish remote access to ScienceDirect through those proxy servers.
If, however, the requested content can be found in the Library Genesis Project repository, upon
information and belief, Sci-Hub obtains the content from it and provides it to the user.

Upon information and belief, Sci-Hub engages in no other activity other than the

illegal reproduction and distribution of digital copies of Elsevier’s copyrighted works and the
copyrighted works of other publishers, and the encouragement, inducement, and material
contribution to the infringement of the copyrights of those works by third parties – i.e., the users
of the Sci-Hub website.

Upon information and belief, in addition to the blatant and rampant infringement

of Elsevier’s copyrights as described above, the Defendants have also used the Sci-Hub website
to earn revenue from the piracy of copyrighted materials from ScienceDirect. Sci-Hub has at
various times accepted funds through a variety of payment processors, including PayPal,
Yandex, WebMoney, QiQi, and Bitcoin.
Sci-Hub’s Use of the Library Genesis Project as a Repository for Unlawfully-Obtained
Scientific Journal Articles and Books

Upon information and belief, when Sci-Hub pirates and downloads an article from

ScienceDirect in response to a user request, in addition to providing a copy of that article to that
user, Sci-Hub also provides a duplicate copy to the Library Genesis Project, which stores the

Case 1:15-cv-04282-RWS Document 1 Filed 06/03/15 Page 10 of 16

article in a database accessible through the Internet. Upon information and belief, the Library
Genesis Project is designed to be a permanent repository of this and other illegally obtained

Upon information and belief, in the event that a Sci-Hub user requests an article

which has already been provided to the Library Genesis Project, Sci-Hub may provide that user
access to a copy provided by the Library Genesis Project rather than re-download an additional
copy of the article from ScienceDirect. As a result, Defendants Sci-Hub and Library Genesis
Project act in concert to engage in a scheme designed to facilitate the unauthorized access to and
wholesale distribution of Elsevier’s copyrighted works legitimately available on the
ScienceDirect platform.
The Library Genesis Project’s Unlawful Distribution of Plaintiff’s Copyrighted Works

Access to the Library Genesis Project’s repository is facilitated by the website

“,” which provides its users the ability to search, download content from, and upload
content to, the repository. The main page of allows its users to perform searches in
various categories, including “LibGen (Sci-Tech),” and “Scientific articles.” In addition to
searching by keyword, users may also search for specific content by various other fields,
including title, author, periodical, publisher, or ISBN or DOI number.

The website indicates that the Library Genesis Project repository

contains approximately 1 million “Sci-Tech” documents and 40 million scientific articles. Upon
information and belief, the large majority of these works is subject to copyright protection and is
being distributed through the Library Genesis Project without the permission of the applicable
rights-holder. Upon information and belief, the Library Genesis Project serves primarily, if not


Case 1:15-cv-04282-RWS Document 1 Filed 06/03/15 Page 11 of 16

exclusively, as a scheme to violate the intellectual property rights of the owners of millions of
copyrighted works.

Upon information and belief, Elsevier owns the copyrights in a substantial

number of copyrighted materials made available for distribution through the Library Genesis
Project. Elsevier has not authorized the Library Genesis Project or any of the Defendants to
copy, display, or distribute through any of the complained of websites any of the content stored
on ScienceDirect to which it holds the copyright. Among the works infringed by the Library
Genesis Project are the “Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology,” and the article “The
Varus Ankle and Instability” (published in Elsevier’s journal “Foot and Ankle Clinics of North
America”), each of which is protected by Elsevier’s federally-registered copyrights.

In addition to the Library Genesis Project website accessible at, users

may access the Library Genesis Project repository through a number of “mirror” sites accessible
through other URLs. These mirror sites are similar, if not identical, in functionality to Specifically, the mirror sites allow their users to search and download materials from
the Library Genesis Project repository.
(Direct Infringement of Copyright)

Elsevier incorporates by reference the allegations contained in paragraphs 1-40


Elsevier’s copyright rights and exclusive distribution rights to the works available


on ScienceDirect (the “Works”) are valid and enforceable.

Defendants have infringed on Elsevier’s copyright rights to these Works by

knowingly and intentionally reproducing and distributing these Works without authorization.


Case 1:15-cv-04282-RWS Document 1 Filed 06/03/15 Page 12 of 16


The acts of infringement described herein have been willful, intentional, and

purposeful, in disregard of and indifferent to Plaintiffs’ rights.

Without authorization from Elsevier, or right under law, Defendants ar

library genesis in USDC 2015

further Order of the Court.
5. The Defendants shall preserve copies of all computer files
relating to the use of the websites and shall take all
necessary steps to retrieve computer files relating to the
use of the websites that may have been deleted before entry
of this Order.
6. That security in the amount of $ 5, 000 be posted by the
Plaintiffs within one week of the entry of this Order.



P. 6 5(c).



It is so ordered.

New York,

October ? ;--1




library genesis in Kelty, Bodo & Allen 2018

can have a quickie, or I can
leave them behind without shedding a single tear.
I don’t know how this hybrid library, and this analogue-digital hybrid practice of reading
and collecting would work without the shadow libraries which make everything freely
accessible. I rely on their supply to test texts, and feed and grow my print library.
E-books are cheaper than their print versions, but they still cost money, carry a
risk, a cost of experimentation. Book-streaming, the flat-rate, the all-you-can-eat
format of accessing books is at the moment only available to audiobooks, but rarely
for e-books. I wonder why.
Did you notice that there are no major book piracy lawsuits?

Have everything, and own a few.


Balazs Bodo

Own Nothing


Of course there is the lawsuit against Sci-Hub and Library Genesis in New York, and
there is another one in Canada against aaaaarg, causing major nuisance to those who
have been named in these cases. But this is almost negligible compared to the high
profile wars the music and audiovisual industries waged against Napster, Grokster,
Kazaa, megaupload and their likes. It is as if book publishers have completely given up on
trying to fight piracy in the courts, and have launched a few lawsuits only to maintain
the appearance that they still care about their digital copyrights. I wonder why.
I know the academic publishing industry slightly better than the mainstream popular
fiction market, and I have the feeling that in the former copyright-based business
models are slowly being replaced by something else. We see no major anti-piracy
efforts from publishers,

library genesis in Mars & Medak 2019

n and focus on the repair,
maintenance and care of the broken social world left in techno-capitalism’s wake.
Comparably, the university and the public library should be able to claim the radical
those gesture of slowdown and custodianship too, against the imperative of innovation
imposed on them by policymakers and managers., the first letter
On 30 November, 2015 a number of us shadow librarians who advocate, build
and maintain ‘shadow libraries’, i.e. online infrastructures allowing users to
digitise, share and debate digital texts and collections, published a letter
article | 345

ephemera: theory & politics in organization

(, 2015) in support of two of the largest user-created
repositories of pirated textbooks and articles on the Internet – Library Genesis
and Science Hub. Library Genesis and Science Hub’s web domain names were
taken down after a New York court issued an injunction following a copyright
infringement suit filed by the largest commercial academic publisher in the
world – Reed Elsevier. It is a familiar trajectory that a shared digital resource,
once it grows in relevance and size, gets taken down after a court decision.
Shadow libraries are no exception.
The world of higher education and science is structured by uneven development.
The world’s top-ranked universities are concentrated in a dozen rich countries
(Times Higher Education, 2017), commanding most of the global investment
into higher education and research. The oligopoly of commercial academic
publishers is headquartered in no more than half of those. The excessive rise of
subscription fees has

puts on their work
(‘The Cost of Knowledge’, 2012). Against this concentration of economic might
and exclusivity to access, stands the fact that the rest of the world has little access
to the top-ranked research universities (Baty, 2017; Henning, 2017) and that the
poor universities are left with no option but to tacitly encourage their students to
use shadow libraries (Liang, 2012). The editorial director of global rankings at the
Times Higher Education Phil Baty minces no words when he bluntly states ‘that
money talks in global higher education seems … to be self-evident’ (Baty, 2017).
Uneven economic development reinforces global uneven development in higher
education and science – and vice versa. It is in the face of this combined
economic and educational unevenness, that Library Genesis and Science Hub,
two repositories for a decommodified access to otherwise paywalled resources,
attain a particular import for students, academics and researchers worldwide.
And it is in the face of combined economic and educational unevenness, that
Library Genesis and Science Hub continue to brave the court decisions,
continuously changing their domain names, securing ways of access beyond the
World Wide Web and ensuring robust redundancy of the materials in their
The letter highlights two circumstances in this antagonism
that cut to the core of the contradictions of reproduction within academia in the
present. The first is the contrast between the extraction of extreme profits from
academia through inflated subscription prices and the increasingly precarious
conditions of studying, teaching and researching:

346 | article

Marcell Mars and Tomislav Medak

Against innovation

Consider Elsevier, the largest scholarly publisher, whose 37% profit margin stands
in sharp contrast to the rising fees, expanding student loan

antaged situation. As
Danijela Dolenec has calculated:
article | 359

[T]he whole region [of Western Balkans] invests approximately EUR 495 million in
research and development per year, which is equivalent of one (second-largest) US
university. Current levels of investment cannot have a meaningful impact on the
current model of economic development ... (Dolenec, 2016: 34)

So, these universities don’t have much capacity to capture value in the global
marketplace. In fact, their work in educating masses matters less to their
economies, as these economies are largely based on selling cheap low-skilled
labor. So, their public funders leave them in their underfunded torpor to
improvise their way through education and research processes. It is these
institutions that depend the most on the Library Genesis and Science Hubs of
this world. If we look at the download data of Library Genesis, as has Balasz Bodó
(2015), we can discern a clear pattern that the users in the rich economies use
these shadow libraries to find publications that are not available in the digital
form or are pay-walled, while the users in the developing economies use them to
find publications they don’t have access to in print to start with.
As for libraries, in the shift to the digital they were denied the right to provide
access that has now radically expanded (Sullivan, 2012), so they are losing their
central position in the dissemination and access to knowledge. The decades of
retrenchment in social security, unemployment support, social housing, arts and
education have made libraries, with their resources open to broad communities,
into a stand-in for failing welfare institutions (Mattern, 2014)

Brenner, R. (2006) The economics of global turbulence: The advanced capitalist
economies from long boom to long downturn, 1945-2005. London: Verso.
Brown, W. (2015) Undoing the demos: Neoliberalism’s stealth revolution. Cambridge:
MIT Press.
Brynjolfsson, E. and A. McAfee (2012) Race against the machine: How the digital
revolution is accelerating innovation, driving productivity, and irreversibly
transforming employment and the economy. Lexington: Digital Frontier Press.
Bürger, P. (1984) Theory of the avant-garde. Manchester: Manchester University
Collini, S. (2017) Speaking of universities. London: Verso.
Critchley, S. (2007) Infinitely demanding: Ethics of commitment, politics of
resistance. London: Verso. (2015) ‘In solidarity with Library Genesis and Sci-Hub’. [http:/





Dolenec, D. (2016) ‘The implausible knowledge triangle of the Western Balkans’,
in S. Gupta, J. Habjan and H. Tutek (eds.) Academic labour, unemployment and
global higher education: Neoliberal policies of funding and management. New
York: Springer.

364 | article

Marcell Mars and Tomislav Medak

Against innovation

Engel-Johnson, E. (2017) ‘Reimagining the library as an anti-café’, Discover
Society. []
Foster, H. (1996) The return of the real: The avant-garde at the end of the century.
Cambridge: MIT Press.
Frey, C.B. and M. Osborne, (2013) The future of employment: H

library genesis in Mars & Medak 2019

call to action: “We need
to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing
networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access” (Swartz 2008).
Where a system has failed to change unjust laws, Swartz felt, the
responsibility was on those who had access to make injustice a
thing of the past.
Whether Swartz’s intent actually was to release the JSTOR repository remains subject to speculation. The prosecution has never
proven that it was. In the context of the legal process, his call to
action was simply taken as a matter of law and not for what it
was—­a matter of politics. Yet, while his political action was pre-

empted, others have continued pursuing his vision by committing
small acts of illegality on a massive scale. In June 2015 Elsevier won
an injunction against Library Genesis, the largest illegal repository
of electronic books, journals, and articles on the Web, and its
subsidiary platform for accessing academic journals, Sci-­hub. A
voluntary and noncommercial project of anonymous scientists
mostly from Eastern Europe, Sci-­hub provides as of end of 2015
access to more than 41 million academic articles either stored
in its database or retrieved through bypassing the paywalls of
academic publishers. The only person explicitly named in Elsevier’s
lawsuit was Sci-­hub’s founder Alexandra Elbakyan, who minced no
words: “When I was working on my research project, I found out
that all research papers I needed for work were paywalled. I was
a student in Kazakhstan at the time and our university was not
subscribed to anything” (Ernesto 2015). Being a comput

library genesis in Mars, Medak & Sekulic 2016

buweb. They all have a simple objective – to
provide access to books, journals and digitised knowledge to all who find themselves
outside the rich academic institutions of the
West and who do not have the privilege of
institutional access.
These shadow public libraries bravely remind society of all the watershed moments in the struggles and negotiations
that have resulted in the establishment
of social institutions, so as to first enable
the transition from what was an unjust,
discriminating and exploitative to a better society, and later guarantee that these
gains would not be dismantled or rescinded. That reminder is, however, more than a

mere hacker pastime, just as the reactions
of the corporations are not easy-going at
all: in mid-2015, Reed Elsevier initiated
a court case against Library Genesis and
Science Hub and by the end of 2015 the
court in New York issued a preliminary
injunction ordering the shut-down of
their domains and access to the servers. At
the same time, a court case was brought
against Aaaaarg in Quebec.
Shadow public libraries are also a
reminder of how technological complexity does not have to be harnessed only in
the conversion of socialised resources back
into the simplified formulaic logic of private property, how we can take technology
in our hands, in the hands of society that is
not dismantling its own foundations, but
rather taking care of and preserving what
is worthwhile and already built – and thus
building itself further. But, most powerfully shadow public libraries are a reminder to us of how the focus and objective of
our efforts should not be a w

library genesis in Mars & Medak 2017

“self-motivated, self-directed, and
independent individuals who would push to succeed anywhere” (Konnikova,
2014). It is a bit worrying that such rise of inequality results from attempts to
provide materials freely to everyone with Internet access!
The question of access to digital books for public libraries is different. Libraries
cannot afford digital books from world’s largest publishers (Digitalbookworld,
2012), and the small amount of already acquired e-books must destroyed after only
twenty six lendings (Greenfield, 2012). Thus, the issue of access is effectively left
to competition between Amazon, Google, Apple and other companies. The state of
affairs in scientific publishing is not any better. As we wrote in the collective open


letter ‘In solidarity with Library Genesis and Sci-Hub’ (, 2015),
five for-profit publishers (Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, Taylor & Francis
and Sage) own more than half of all existing databases of academic material, which
are licensed at prices so scandalously high that even Harvard, the richest university
of the Global North, has complained that it cannot afford them any longer. Robert
Darnton, the past director of Harvard Library, says: “We faculty do the research,
write the papers, referee papers by other researchers, serve on editorial boards, all
of it for free … and then we buy back the results of our labor at outrageous prices.”
For all the work supported by public money benefiting scholarly publishers,
particularly the peer review that grounds their legitimacy, prices of journal articles

ression can only arrive at the close proximity to capitalist centres of
power. The periphery (of capitalism), in contrast, relies on strategies of ‘stealing’
and bypassing socio-economic barriers by refusing to submit to the harmonized
regulation that sets the frame for global economic exchange. If we honestly look
back and try to compare the achievements of digital piracy vs. the achievements of
reformist Creative Commons, it is obvious that the struggle for access to
knowledge is still alive mostly because of piracy.
PJ & AK: This brings us to the struggle against (knowledge as) private
property. What are the main problems in this struggle? How do you go about them?
MM & TM: Many projects addressing the crisis of access to knowledge are
originated in Eastern Europe. Examples include Library Genesis, Science Hub,
Monoskop and Memory of the World. Balázs Bodó’s research (2016) on the ethos
of Library Genesis and Science Hub resonates with our beliefs, shared through all
abovementioned projects, that the concept of private property should not be taken
for granted. Private property can and should be permanently questioned,
challenged and negotiated. This is especially the case in the face of artificial
scarcity (such as lack of access to knowledge caused by intellectual property in
context of digital networks) or selfish speculations over scarce basic human



resources (such as problems related to housing, water or waterfront development)
(Mars, Medak, & Sekulić, 2016).
The struggle to challenge the property regime used to be at the forefront of the
Free Software Movement. In the spectacular chain of recent events, where the
revelations of sweepin

orse. As journals become increasingly digital, libraries
can provide access and ‘preserve’ them only for as long as they pay extortionate
subscriptions. The Public Library project fills in the space that remains denied to
real-world public libraries by building tools for organizing and sharing electronic
libraries, creating digitization workflows and making books available online.
Obviously, we are not alone in this effort. There are many other platforms, public
and hidden, that help people to share books. And the practice of sharing is massive.
PJ & AK: The Public Library project (Memory of the World, 2016a) is a part of
a wider global movement based, amongst other influences, on the seminal work of
Aaron Swartz. This movement consists of various projects including but not
limited to Library Genesis,, UbuWeb, and others. Please situate The
Public Library project in the wider context of this movement. What are its distinct
features? What are its main contributions to the movement at large?
MM & TM: The Public Library project is informed by two historic moments in
the development of institution of public library The first defining moment
happened during the French Revolution – the seizure of library collections from
aristocracy and clergy, and their transfer to the Bibliothèque Nationale and
municipal libraries of the post-revolutionary Republic. The second defining
moment happened in England through working class struggles to make knowledge
accessible to the working class. After the revolution of 1848, that struggle resulted
in tax-supported public libraries. This was an

ne of the first online repositories.
Then, in 2001, started distributing texts in critical theory. After got shot down in early 2004, it took another year for Aaaaarg to emerge
and Monoskop followed soon thereafter. In the latter part of the 2000s, Gigapedia
started a different trajectory of providing access to comprehensive repositories.
Gigapedia was a game changer, because it provided access to thousands and
thousands of scholarly titles and made access to that large corpus no longer limited
to those working or studying in the rich institutions of the Global North. In 2012
publishing industry shut down Gigapedia (at the time, it was known as
Fortunately, the resulting vacuum did not last for long, as repository got
merged into the holdings of Library Genesis. Building on the legacy of Soviet
scholars who devised the ways of shadow production and distribution of
knowledge in the form of samizdat and early digital distribution of texts in the
post-Soviet period (Balázs, 2014), Library Genesis has built a robust infrastructure
with the mission to provide access to the largest online library in existence while
keeping a low profile. At this moment Library Genesis provides access to books,
and its sister project Science Hub provides access to academic journals. Both
projects are under threat of closure by the largest academic publisher Reed
Elsevier. Together with the Public Library project, they articulate a position of civil
PJ & AK: Please elaborate the position of civil disobedience. How does it
work; when is it justified?
MM & TM: Legitimating discourses usually claim that shadow libraries fall
into the category of non-commercial fair use. These arguments are definitely valid,
yet they do not build a particularly strong ground for defending knowledge
commons. Once they arrive under attack, therefore, shadow libraries are typically
shut down. In our call for collective disobedience, therefore, we want to make a
larger claim. Access

ch indicates that digital technologies offer some fresh opportunities for the
project of deschooling (Hart, 2001; Jandrić, 2014, 2015b), and projects such as
Monoskop (Monoskop, 2016) and The Public Library project (Memory of the
World, 2016a) provide important stepping-stones for emancipation of the
oppressed. Yet, such forms of knowledge and education are hardly – if at all –
recognised by the mainstream. How do you go about this problem? Should these
projects try and align with the mainstream, or act as subversions of the mainstream,
or both? Why?
MM & TM: We are currently developing a more fine-tuned approach to
educational aspects of amateur librarianship. The forms of custodianship over
knowledge commons that underpin the practices behind Monoskop, Public Library,
Aaaaarg, Ubu, Library Genesis, and Science Hub are part and parcel of our
contemporary world – whether you are a non-academic with no access to scholarly
libraries, or student/faculty outside of the few well-endowed academic institutions
in the Global North. As much as commercialization and privatization of education
are becoming mainstream across the world, so are the strategies of reproducing
one’s knowledge and academic research that depend on the de-commodified access
of shadow libraries.
Academic research papers are narrower in scope than textbooks, and Monoskop
is thematically more specific than Library Genesis. However, all these practices
exhibit ways in which our epistemologies and pedagogies are built around
institutional structures that reproduce inequality and differentiated access based on
race, gender, class and geography. By building own knowledge infrastructures, we
build different bodies of knowledge and different forms of relating to our realities –
in words of Walter Mignolo, we create new forms of epistemic disobedience
(2009). Through Public Library, we have digitized and made available several
collections that represent epistemologically different corpuses of knowledge. A
good example of that is the digital collection of books selected by Black Panther
Herman Wallace as his dream library for political education (Memory of the
World, 2016b).
PJ & AK: Your work breaks traditional

different contexts and situations. In our experience, a wide public response to a
social cause cannot be simply produced by shaping messages or promoting causes
in ways that are considered popular. The response of the public primarily depends
on a broadly shared understanding, no matter its complexity, that a certain course
of action has an actual capacity to transform a specific situation. Recognizing that
moment, and acting tactfully upon it, is fundamental to building a broad political
This can be illustrated by the aforementioned letter (2015)
that we recently co-authored with a number of our fellow library activists against
the injunction that allows Elsevier to shut down two most important repositories
providing access to scholarly writing: Science Hub and Library Genesis. The letter
is clearly a product of our specific collective work and dynamic. Yet, it clearly


articulates various aspects of discontent around this impasse in access to
knowledge, so it resonates with a huge number of people around the world and
gives them a clear indication that there are many who disobey the global
distribution of knowledge imposed by the likes of Elsevier.
PJ & AK: Your work is probably best described by John Holloway’s phrase
“in, against, and beyond the state” (Holloway, 2002, 2016). What are the main
challenges of working under such conditions? How do you go about them?
MM & TM: We could situate the Public Library project within the structure of
tactical agency, where one famously moves into the territory of inst

library genesis in Medak, Mars & WHW 2015

is the first project in history to
offer everyone on the Internet free download of its
entire book collection (as of this writing, about fifteen terabytes of data), together with the all metadata
(MySQL dump) and PHP/HTML/Java Script code
for webpages. The most popular earlier reposito15 See


M. Mars • M. Zarroug • T. Medak

ries, such as Gigapedia (later, handled
their upload and maintenance costs by selling advertising space to the pornographic and gambling
industries. Legal action was initiated against them,
and they were closed.16 News of the termination of
Gigapedia/ strongly resonated among
academics and book enthusiasts circles and was
even noted in the mainstream Internet media, just
like other major world events. The decision by Library Genesis to share its resources has resulted
in a network of identical sites (so-called mirrors)
through the development of an entire range of Net
services of metadata exchange and catalog maintenance, thus ensuring an exceptionally resistant
survival architecture., started by the artist Sean Dockray, is
an online repository with over 50,000 books and
texts. A community of enthusiastic researchers from
critical theory, contemporary art, philosophy, architecture, and other fields in the humanities maintains,
catalogs, annotates, and initiates discussions around
it. It also as a courseware extension to the self-organized education platform The Public School.17
16 Andrew Losowsky, “, Book Downloading Site,
Targeted in Injunctions Requested by 17 Publishers,” Huffington Post,

library genesis in Sekulic 2018

e books they offer
due to the double assault of austerity measures and a growing monopoly of the
corporate publishing industry.

Digital networks have incredible power to widely distribute content, and once
the (digital) content is out there it is relatively easy to share and access.
Digital networks can provide a solution for enclosure of knowledge and for the
oppressed, easier access to channels of distribution. At least that was the
promise – the Internet would enable a democratization of access. However,
digital networks have a significant capacity to centralize and control within
the realm of knowledge distribution, one look at the oligopoly of academic
publishing and its impact on access and independent production shows its

In June 2015 Elsiver won an injunction against Library Genesis and its
subsidiary platform, making it inaccessible in some countries and
via some commercial internet providers. Run by anonymous scientists mostly
from Eastern Europe, these voluntary and non-commercial projects are the
largest illegal repository of electronic books, journals, and articles on the
web (4). Most of the scientific articles collected in the repository bypassed
the paywalls of academic publishers using the solidary network of access
provided by those associated with universities rich enough to pay the
exuberant subscription fees. The only person named in the court case was
Alexandra Elbakyan, who revealed her identity as the creator of,
and explained she was motivated by the lack of access: “When I was working on
my research project, I found out that all research papers I needed for work
were paywalled. I was a student in Kazakhstan at the time and our university
was not subscribed to anything.”(5) The creation of made
scientific knowledge accessible to anyone, not just to members of wealthy
academic institutions. The act of acknowledging responsibility for sci-hub
transformed what was seen as the act of illegality (piracy) into the act of
civil disobedience. In the context of sci-hub and Library Genesis, both
projects from the periphery of knowledge production, “copyright infringement
opens on to larger questions about the legitimacy of the historic compromise –
if indeed there ever even was one – between the labor that produces culture
and knowledge and its commodification as codified in existing copyright
regulations.”(6) Here, disobedience and piracy have an equalizing effect on
the asymmetries of access to knowledge.

In 2008, programmer and hacktivist Aaron Swartz published Guerilla Open
Access Manifesto triggered by the enclosure of scientific knowledge production
of the past, often already part of public domain, via digitization. “The
world's entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in
books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked

e disobedience against the current
regulation of production and circulation of knowlde and culture in the digital
realm. See: ‘Memory of the World’. Accessed 7 April 2018.

(3) Herman's library can be accessed at[]( More
on the context of digitization see: ‘Herman’s Library’. Memory of the World
(blog), 28 October 2014. /hermans-library/>, and ‘Public Library. Rethinking the Infrastructures of
Knowledge Production’. Memory of the World (blog), 30 October 2014.

(4) For more on shadow libraries and library genesis see: Bodo, Balazs.
‘Libraries in the Post-Scarcity Era’. SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY:
Social Science Research Network, 10 June 2015.

(5) ‘Sci-Hub Tears Down Academia’s “Illegal” Copyright Paywalls’. TorrentFreak
(blog), 27 June 2015. illegal-copyright-paywalls-150627/.>

(6) For the schizophrenia of the current model of the corporate enclosure of
the scientific knowledge see: Mars, Marcell and Tomislav Medak, The System of
a Takedown, forthcoming, 2018

(7) Aaron Swartz. Guerilla Open Access Manifesto. Accessed 7 April 2018.[](

(8) Ibid.

(9) Mars, Marcell and Tomislav Medak, The System of a Takedown, forthcoming,

(10) See ‘In Solidarity with Library Genesis and Sci-Hub’. Accessed 7 April 2018.

library genesis in Sollfrank 2018

hout charge and without any other
restrictions. And because there is a whole network of shadow libraries whose
mission is “to remove all barriers in the way of science,”17 experts speak of
an ecosystem fostering free and universal access to knowledge.

The notion of the shadow library enjoyed popularity in the early 2000s when
the wide availability of digital networked media contributed to the emergence
of large-scale repositories of scientific materials, the most famous one
having been Gigapedia, which later transformed into This project
was famous for hosting approximately 400,000 (scientific) books and journal
articles but had to be shut down in 2012 as a consequence of a series of
injunctions from powerful publishing houses. The now leading shadow library in
the field, Library Genesis (LibGen), can be considered as its even more
influential successor. As of November 2016 the database contained 25 million
documents (42 terabytes), of which 2.1 million were books, with digital copies
of scientific articles published in 27,134 journals by 1342 publishers.18 The
large majority of the digital material is of scientific and educational nature
(95%), while only 5% serves recreational purposes.19 The repository is based
on various ways of crowd-sourcing, i.e. social and technical forms of
accessing and sharing academic publications. Despite a number of legal cases
and court orders, the site is still available under various and changing
domain names.20

The related project Sci-Hub is an online service that processes requests for
pay-walled articles by providing systematic, autom

iminal law must be applied are
described in §109 of German copyright law.
9 See, for example, “Shadow Libraries” for a video interview with Kenneth
10 Paul Torremans, _Intellectual Property Law_ (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2010), 265.
11 See also §53 para. 1–3 of the German Act on Copyright and Related Rights
(UrhG), §42 para. 4 in the Austrian UrhG, and Article 19 of Swiss Copyright
12 Simon Stokes, _Art & Copyright_ (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2003).
13 Steinhauer, “Rechtspflicht zur Amnesie”.
14 This discrepancy between a state mandate for cultural preservation and
copyright law has only been fixed in 2018 with the introduction of a special
law, §16a DNBG.
15 Steinhauer, “Rechtspflicht zur Amnesie”.
16 Bodo Balazs, “The Genesis of Library Genesis: The Birth of a Global
Scholarly Shadow Library,” Nov. 4, 2014, _SSRN_ ,
, (accessed on
Sept. 30, 2018).
17 Motto of Sci-Hub: “Sci-Hub,” _Wikipedia_ , /Sci-Hub> (accessed on Sept. 30, 2018).
18 Guillaume Cabanac, “Bibliogifts in LibGen? A study of a text-sharing
platform driven by biblioleaks and crowdsourcing,” _Journal of the Association
for Information Science and Technology_ , 67, 4 (2016): 874–884.
19 Ibid.
20 The current address is (accessed on Sept. 30, 2018).
21 Kate Murphy, “Should All Research Papers Be Free?” _New York Times Sunday
Review_ , Mar. 12, 2016, /should-all-research-papers-be-free.html> (accessed on Sept. 30, 2018).
22 Richard Van Noorden, “Nature’s 10,” _Nature_ , Dec. 19, 2016,
(accessed on Sept. 30,
23 Bodo Balazs, “Pirates in the library – an inquiry into the guerilla open
access movement,” paper 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. Online available at: https
(accessed on Sept. 30, 2018).
24 Balazs, “The Genesis of Library Genesis”.
25 Aaron Swartz, “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto,” _Internet Archive_ , July

(accessed on Sept. 30, 2018).
26 Balazs, “Pirates in the library”.
27 Massimo De Angelis, “Economy, Capital and the Commons,” in: _Art,
Production and the Subject in the 21st Century_ , eds. Angela Dimitrakaki and
Kirsten Lloyd (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015), 201.
28 Ibid., 211.
29 Ibid.
30 See: (accessed on Sept. 30, 2018).
31 Accessible with invitation. See:
[]( (accessed on Sept. 30, 2018).
32 See: (accessed on Sept. 30, 2018).
33 See: (accessed on Sept. 30, 2018

library genesis in Sollfrank & Mars 2013

ut that goes, again, in collaboration with software
engineers, information architectes, whatever… [09:26] It’s so easy to have
that, and the benefits of that are so great, that there is no reason why not
to do that, I would say.


If you want to share your collection then you need to install at the moment
Calibre, and Let’s Share Books software, which I wrote. But also you can – for
example, there is a Calibre plugin for Aaaaarg, so if you use Calibre… from
Calibre you can search Aaaaarg, you can download books from Aaaaarg, you can
also change the metadata and upload the metadata up to Aaaaarg.


At the moment the biggest repository for the books, in order to download and
make your catalogue, is Library Genesis. It’s around 900,000 books. It’s, And it’s a great project. [10:33] It’s done by some
Russian hackers, who also allow anyone to download all of that. It’s 9
Terabytes of books, quite some chunk of hard disks which you need for that.
[10:47] And you can also download PHP, the back end of the website and the
MySQL database (a thumb of the MySQL database), so you can run your own
Library Genesis. That’s one of the ways how you can do that. [11:00] You can
also go and join, where it is also not just about downloading
books and uploading books, it’s also about communication and interpretation of
making, different issues and catalogues. [11:14] It’s a community of book
lovers who like to share knowledge, and who add quite a lot of value arou

library genesis in Tenen 2016

the online free library
world. For some it carries an unwelcome connotation. In most cases, the
maintenance of large online archives is a drain on resources, not
profiteering. It resembles much more the work of a librarian than that of a
corsair. Nevertheless, many in the community actually embrace a few of the
political implications that come with the idea of piracy. Piracy, in that
sense, appeals to ideas and strategies similar to those of the Occupy
Movement. When public resources are unjustly appropriated and when such
systematic appropriation is subsequently defended through the use of law and
force, the only available response is counter occupation.

The agenda notes introducing the event calls for a »solidarity platform« in
support of free online public libraries like Sci-Hub and Library Genesis,
which increasingly find themselves in legal peril. I do not yet know what the
organizers have in mind, but my own thoughts in preparation for the day’s
activities revolve around the following few premises:

1\. The case for universal and free access to knowledge is stronger when it is
made on ethical, technological, and **tactical** grounds, not just legal.

The cost of sharing and reproduction in the digital world are too low to
sustain practices and institutions built on the assumptions of print. The
attempt to re-introduce »stickiness« to electronic documents artificially
through digital rights management technology and associated legislation like
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are doomed to fail. Information does not
(and cannot) »want« to be free, [8] but it definitely h

proposed action will require the close **alignment of interests**
between authors, publishers, readers, and librarians.

For our institutions to catch up to the changing material conditions *and* our
(hopefully not so rapidly changing) sense of what’s right and wrong in the
world, writers, readers, publishers, and archivists need to coordinate their
action. We are a community. And I think we want more or less the same thing:
to reach an audience, to find and share information, and to remain a vital
intellectual force. The real battle for the hearts and minds of an informed
public lies elsewhere. Massive forces of capital and centralization threaten
the very existence of a public commons. To survive, we need to nurture a
conversation across organizational boundaries.

By my calculations, Library Genesis, one of the most influential free online
book libraries sustains itself on a budget of several thousand dollars per
year. [9] The maintenance of Sci-Hub requires a bit more to reach millions of
readers. [10] How do pirate libraries achieve so much with so little? The
fact that these libraries do not pay exorbitant license fees can only comprise
a small part of the answer. The larger part includes their ability to rely on
the support of the community, in what I have called elsewhere »peer
preservation.« Why can’t readers and writers contribute to the development of
infrastructures within their own institutions? Why are libraries so reliant on
outside vendors, who take most of the profits out of our ecosystem?

I am conflicted about leaving booksellers out of the equation. In response

library genesis in Thylstrup 2019

plores the
subversive dynamics of critical artistic platforms,110 and Trebor Sholtz
promotes the term “platform cooperativism” to advance worker-based
cooperatives that would “design their own apps-based platforms, fostering
truly peer-to-peer ways of providing services and things, and speak truth to
the new platform capitalists.”111 Shadow libraries such as Monoskop appear as
perfect examples of such subversive platforms and evidence of Srnicek’s
reminder that not _all_ social interactions are co-opted into systems of
profit generation. 112 Yet, as the territorial, legal, and social
infrastructures of mass digitization become increasingly labyrinthine, it
takes a lot of critical consciousness to properly interpret and understand its
infrapolitics. Engage with the shadow library Library Genesis on Facebook, for
instance, and you submit to platform capitalism.

A significant trait of platform-based corporations such as Google and Facebook
is that they more often than not present themselves as apolitical, neutral,
and empowering tools of connectivity, passive until picked up by the user.
Yet, as Lisa Nakamura notes, “reading’s economies, cultures of sharing, and
circuits of travel have never been passive.”113 One of digital platforms’ most
important infrapolitical traits is their dependence on network effects and a
winner-takes-all logic, where the platform owner is not only conferred
enormous power vis-à-vis other less successful platforms but also vis-à-vis
the platform user.114 Within this game, the platform owner determines the
rules of the product and the service on

library genesis in WHW 2016

again used art as an infrastructure
and resource to promote the movement of freeing books from copyright
restrictions while collecting legitimization points from the art world as enhanced cultural capital that could serve as armour against future attacks
by the defenders of the holy scripture of copyright laws. But here the more
important tactic was to show the movement as an army of many and to
strengthen it through self-presentation. The exhibition presented Public
Library as a collection of collections, and the repertory form (used in archive science to describe a collection) was taken as the basic narrative procedure. It mobilized and activated several archives and open digital repositories, such as MayDay Rooms from London, The Ignorant Schoolmaster and
His Committees from Belgrade, Library Genesis and, Catalogue
of Free Books, (Digitized) Praxis, the digitized work of the Midnight Notes
Collective, and, with special emphasis on activating the digital
repositories UbuWeb and Monoskop. Not only did the exhibition attempt to
enlist the gallery audience but, equally important, the project was testing
its own strength in building, articulating, announcing, and proposing, or
speculating on, a broader movement to oppose the copyright of cultural
goods within and adjacent to the art field.
Presenting such a movement in an art institution changes one of the
basic tenets of art, and for an art institution the project’s main allure probably lies in this kind of expansion of the art field. A shared politics is welcome, but nothing makes an art institution so happy as th


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