SCI HUB: IS IT LEGAL IN INDIA?
About the Author:
SCI HUB is an open-access online library that provides access to research papers, articles, books and so on. All research materials come with no altercations, it is a handout to many academicians and scholars to access research work and information. However, the academic materials provided by the SCI HUB are materials that are guarded by paywalls on different websites. This directly contravenes the right of the author. That is protected under Section 13 of the Copyright Act of 1957. Since the author’s proprietary rights are exploited several provisions of the law are at stake. Section 57 of the Copyright Act of 1957 endows the author the right to claim authorship of the work and to claim damages if there is an act of distortion, mutilation, modification, or other act that would be prejudicial to his honor or reputation can be sued. SCI HUB breaches licensing of the published paper and neglects the rights of the author on the paper. Thus, the situation demands attention over the legality of SCIHUB in India.
Consequences of Free Access to Articles
Free downloads through websites like SIC HUB negates the rights of authors and journals that publish articles. There has been a rise in the number of unauthorized platforms that provide access to articles and literary material free of cost. Since access to the internet has become easier for independent researchers the misuse has also skyrocketed. According to a survey, 62% of universities use SCI HUB rather than authentic research portals, the same research directs that the dependency on SCI HUB has increased by 77.3% during the lockdown. The over engagement with SCI HUB during the lockdown has caused immense losses.
In 2016 there were 3.4 million downloads of research material over such platforms in 6 months. Considering the rise of dependency over SCI HUB in COVID- 19 lockdown these numbers are touching the roof. According to speculations, if the same number of research material would have been downloaded legally it could have generated approximately 100-125 million USD. This in turn would have benefited and promoted quality research. This is collectively more than all research institutes collect through the paywall of their respective websites for scholarly literature material.
The legality of SCI HUB in India
According to Sec.3 of the Copyright infringement Act 1957, a publication means making work available to the public by issues of copies or communicating the work to the public. However, Sec.4 describes infringement of work that has copyright but is not deemed to be public without the license of the owner of the copyright. The copyright infringement was discussed in the case of Warner Bros, Entertainment Inc. & Ors. vs. Santosh V.G, the Court observed that Copyrights is a unique form of property and monopoly to any content, in its most elementary form of copyright means “the exclusive right to multiply copies of a book”. Therefore, the author and the journal acquire license over the original work as well as the copies of the work that cannot be used without permission of the author and journal that have copyright over the material.
In the case of Amar Nath Sehgal vs UOI, the Court observed that a literary work conceives of many rights, the first and foremost right is the ”paternity right” in the work, that grants the right to have his name on the work, it is also be called the ‘identification right’. Uploading articles of the authors without permission by free access through websites like “SCI HUB” is fundamentally denying the rights of authors on the article, thus such websites need to be banned.
In December 2020 academic associations of Elsevier Ltd, Wiley India Pvt Ltd, and American Chemical Society sued SCI HUB and Libgen that grant open access and download articles in an unauthorized manner. The prosecution demanded to block and stop the download of articles, the Court held to block SCI HUB in India and restricted uploading any new article on the website. However, in the SCI-HUB case, the restraint was for a brief period. Justice Medha had lifted the restraint based on the principle of natural justice on the 6th of January 2021.
This has put concerns over the safety of authorized published material in India, as it has open access on platforms like SCI-HUB.
In recent times access to research articles has been an easy task. In past before the advent of internet research material, researchers, and readers had limited platforms to exchange information and ideas. However, the internet is both a boon and a bane for authentic research platforms. In the age of social media and global connectivity, authentic information has become priceless. The ban on SCI HUB in India is necessary to protect quality research.
There will be other unauthorized platforms that will provide similar access to articles and research papers. The telecom and the ministry of electronics and information technology must hound such websites that are involved in copyright infringement through the I.T. Act, 2000. The government needs to strengthen laws that can protect the rights of the authors. And bring those to books that disseminate unauthorized access to copies of published articles. The government must provide a platform to institutes to provide access to journals and articles at a low cost. This will empower the fundamental right to information enshrined in Article 19 of the Indian constitution and protect the rights of the authors.
 The Copyright Act, 1957, §13
 The Copyright Act, 1957, §52
 Spicy IP, “The Sci-Hub Case: Why It is Time to Stop Favoring the Doctrinal Approach to Law over an Empirical One”, January 4, 2021, Available at: The Sci-Hub Case: Why It is Time to Stop Favouring the Doctrinal Approach to Law over an Empirical One | SpicyIP,
 John Bohannon “Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone”, Science.org, Apr.29, 2016, Available at: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.352.6285.508,
 The Copyright Act, 1957, §3
 The Copyright Act, 1957, §4
 Warner Bros, Entertainment Inc. & Ors. vs. Santosh V.G (2009) S.C.R 842.
 Amar Nath Sehgal vs. Union of India (UOI) (2005) 30 S.C.R 123
 Dhrubo Jyoti, “Petition in Delhi HC to block Libgen, Sci-Hub”, Hindustan times, Dec. 23, 2020. Available at: https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/petition-in-delhi-hc-to-block-libgen-sci-hub/story-17M94CYb38MWbm2NgP6IXN.html,
 Richa Banka, “Delhi HC asks Libgen, Sci-Hub to stop uploading articles as they face copyright infringement charges”, Hindustan times, Dec.24, 2020. Available at: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/delhi-hc-asks-libgen-sci-hub-to-stop-uploading-articles-as-they-face-copyright-infringement-charges/story-cRWCB1sGs1yMqR3TCpuvmL.html
 Shreya Agarwal, “Matter Of Public Importance Concerning Entire Scientific Community’ : Delhi HC Refuses To Restrain LibGen Publications”, Live Law, Jan. 6, 2021, Available at: https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/delhi-high-court-copyright-sci-hub-lib-gen-elsevier-168051
 The Constitution of India, 1950, Art. 19(1)(a).