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American Chemical Society wins preliminary finding against Sci-Hub

Judge says the distributor of pirated papers violated ACS’s copyright and trademark protections

by Andrea Widener
October 4, 2017

A U.S. district court in Alexandria, Va., has issued a preliminary finding supporting the American Chemical Society in its case against the internet pirate site Sci-Hub.

Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson agreed that Sci-Hub violated ACS’s copyright and trademark protections when it provided free access to stolen journal articles. ACS publishes C&EN.

“Sci-Hub’s actions merit a strong deterrent,” Anderson wrote. Sci-Hub should be ordered to stop distributing ACS’s copyrighted work and imitating its trademarked content, such as web pages, he recommended. Anderson also supported ordering internet service providers, such as search engines, domain name registries, or web hosting services, to stop distributing ACS content on Sci-Hub’s site. ACS should receive the $4.8 million in damages it requested, Anderson advised.

The filing is a recommendation to Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, who will issue a final ruling, likely within the next few months.

“ACS is pleased with the recent report filed by the magistrate judge. The Society is now awaiting a final judgment in the case,” says ACS spokesperson Glenn S. Ruskin.

Sci-Hub, which is thought to be based in Russia, is unlikely to follow the final ruling. A successful case against Sci-Hub by the publisher Elsevier did not stop Sci-Hub from publishing. However, a final ruling would allow ACS to go after the internet companies that host Sci-Hub’s content. That could make distributing ACS content slightly harder for Sci-Hub.

ACS filed suit against Sci-Hub in June. No Sci-Hub representatives attended a Sept. 22 hearing to defend themselves, so the ruling supported ACS by default.


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