Friday, April 8, 2016


When I went through graduate school all the journals were in the library, huge rooms of rows and rows of bound volumes of journals going back decades or more, and every article in those journals were free to you to read, and to copy for the price of a copy machine, effectively free to duplicate as many copies as you wanted, which by law was legal for personal and research use. And you could share those articles if you wanted. I have a few file cabinets and boxes full of copies of journal articles for papers and my thesis.
And I can still do that at any public or university library, which I do for my personal research into the history of Mount Rainier National Park. But now some university libraries are only purchasing digital subscriptions of the journals, and those are not open to the public, or are available for a annual access fee, which works for all digital holdings, including free printing.
When I’ve found artlcles not in these libraries but available through the journal, they almost always charge a fee, either purchasing an annual subscription or for copies of articles. And their fees aren’t cheap. I often tried to find the article through Google search, sometimes finding someone posted it on-line as part of a project or research, but a few have escaped me because of that fee, which often starts at $35 per article or $100 per annual subscription. 
Then I read an article about a woman in Kazakhstan who operates a Website, Sci-Hub, which has over 50 million journal articles free, or will retrieve it if it’s not in the database. The journal publishers have court orders against her and her Website, but they don’t apply where she lives, thankfully, and the database is growing through cooperation among students, researches and academics.
I haven’t tried it yet, but will when I have the need. This is the perfect answer to the research and academic publishers to bring them into the real world and be fair to people who need or want the journals or articles. If the world of music can change, then these publishers can or face the same fate, being taught a lesson on how to treat customers.

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