The dark web—the collection of sites on the Internet that can’t be accessed by search engines like Google—is perhaps best known as a place to anonymously purchase drugs, guns, and hit men. Now, The Atlantic reports, the dark web has a new product: free research papers. Upset with the exorbitant cost of accessing academic papers, a Kazakhstani student created the site Sci-Hub, which trawls university databases to find and collect papers requested by its users. To date, it has amassed more than 47 million papers—and drawn the ire of academic publishers, including Elsevier. After being sued by the publishing giant, Sci-Hub was forced to change domain names late last year. But this time, the site’s creator took an extra precaution by also hosting it on the dark web, ensuring that it will remain accessible even if the new domain gets taken down. The struggle highlights just how frustrated researchers are with having to pay for access to the products of their own work—and just how far some will go to ensure that research is available to all.
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