Bodo, Antal and Puha (2020)
|Bodo, Antal and Puha (2020)|
|Title:||Open access is not a panacea, even if it’s radical – an empirical study on the role of shadow libraries in closing the inequality of knowledge access|
|Author(s):||Bodo, B., Antal, D., Puha, Z.|
|Citation:||Bodo, B., Antal, D. and Puha, Z. (2020) Open access is not a panacea, even if it’s radical – an empirical study on the role of shadow libraries in closing the inequality of knowledge access. Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2020-39|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Data were obtained from a number of secondary sources, centrally relying on a dataset provided by an administrator of a LibGen mirror site. This is bolstered with various demographic and macroconomic data from other secondary sources, including the World Bank database and Eurostat database.|
|Data Type:||Primary and Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||Yes|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
“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.”
Main Results of the Study
• The country with the highest number of downloads from the shadow LibGen site is the United States, followed by India, Germany, the UK and China.
• At a global level, the study finds a positive association between the number of downloads from a country and higher GDO and knowledge-intensive economic activity. As such, it is not the case that countries with less infrastructural or funding capabilities are using the mirror site to compensate for this. Rather, illicit downloading is more frequent where the population has better legal access to works, where the country is highly educated, and produces many scholarly outputs. As such, the authors conclude that income also defines knowledge absorption capacity, effecting demand for scientific literature.
• Similarly at EU level, shadow library usage is positively correlated with income. However, some nuance is noted here - internet literacy, for example, (e.g. knowledge of how to source pirated materials, use of VPNs) is also more strongly associated with illicit downloading.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
The study does not make any explicit policy recommendations.
Coverage of Study