Downloads of pirated research papers rampant in Japan

Academic papers were freely downloaded more than 1.27 million times in Japan last year from a ‘pirate’ website, highlighting the growing reluctance to pay subscription fees for such publications, a study team said. But Japanese scientists are not the only ones doing this, writes Ryosuke Nonaka for The Asahi Shimbun.

The team, comprising researchers from the University of the Ryukyus and Nagoya Gakuin University, said the study results showed that Japanese scientists are not the only ones who want to avoid paying the rising fees to view published research papers. They said they found about 150 million downloads of academic papers from the site across the globe, including in China, India and the United States, in 2017. The total financial damage suffered by publishers of the research papers remains unknown.

The site, called Sci-Hub, was reportedly set up in 2011 by a female scientist from Kazakhstan who was disgruntled over the expensive subscription fees required to view academic research papers. She obtained IDs and passwords for publishers’ websites from collaborators at universities and other organisations that were official subscribers. The Kazakh scientist then obtained the published academic papers and made them available for free downloads on the Sci-Hub site.
Full report on The Asahi Shimbun site