Using Copyrighted and Library Content

Find out how you can legally and ethically use copyrighted and library content in your academic research, instruction, essays & writings, and creative projects. Legal disclaimer: this copyright guide is meant for informational & educational purposes only.

Library Research Guide

What is Sci-Hub?


This page explains why librarians disagree with using resources accessible from Sci-Hub.  It poses a risk for the university as the licensee.

Sci-Hub is an online search engine with millions of scholarly articles available free for download. Its activity, however, is illegal, because it infringes the copyright of the publishers. In order to bring traditional, subscription-access content to anyone free of charge, Sci-Hub bypasses publisher paywalls by accessing academic papers through educational institution proxies (the servers that authenticate users and allow access off campus).

Why is Sci-Hub a Problem?

Educational institutions, such as K-State, are obligated by the terms of license agreements to protect themselves against unauthorized users. Authorized users are named in a license and generally include faculty, students, staff, on-site public patrons, and affiliated researchers. If library-licensed content is made available to unauthorized users, especially in a public online setting, then the terms of the license are being violated. For example, if/when Sci-Hub makes K-State licensed-content available on its website, K-State is then violating the terms of use regarding authorized users.

When these violations occur, educational institutions are in jeopardy of losing access to their library content. Violations must be swiftly addressed, or users at K-State can lose their access to the content in question.

What's the Difference Between Open Access (OA) and Sci-Hub?

Open Access (OA) is the free, immediate and legal online access to research and scholarly information, such as scholarly journal articles, conference papers, monographs, theses and dissertations, data sets, source code, and so forth. Open Educational Resources (OERs) are also freely and immediately available but serve a different purpose; they can include e-books, e-textbooks, quizzes and tests, assessment tools, and other resources for instructors and students to use for educational purposes.

Content on Sci-hub is also freely and immediately available; the major difference is that their content is illegally obtained through library databases.