The following article was recently published by PLOS One.
Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam
Independent Researcher, Netherlands
PLOS One 15(12): e0242509
Library Genesis is one of the oldest and largest illegal scholarly book collections online. Without the authorization of copyright holders, this shadow library hosts and makes more than 2 million scholarly publications, monographs, and textbooks available. This paper analyzes a set of weblogs of one of the Library Genesis mirrors, provided to us by one of the service’s administrators. We reconstruct the social and economic factors that drive the global and European demand for illicit scholarly literature. In particular, we test if lower income regions can compensate for the shortcomings in legal access infrastructures by more intensive use of illicit open resources. We found that while richer regions are the most intensive users of shadow libraries, poorer regions face structural limitations that prevent them from fully capitalizing on freely accessible knowledge. We discuss these findings in the wider context of open access publishing, and point out that open access knowledge, if not met with proper knowledge absorption infrastructures, has limited usefulness in addressing knowledge access and production inequalities.
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