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Library Genesis (Libgen) is a file-sharing based shadow library website for scholarly journal articles, academic and general-interest books, images, comics, audiobooks, and magazines. The site enables free access to content that is otherwise paywalled or not digitized elsewhere. Libgen describes itself as a "links aggregator" providing a searchable database of items "collected from publicly available public Internet resources" as well as uploaded "from users".
Controversy surrounds the copyright status of many works accessible through this website. For example, Libgen provides access to PDFs of content from Elsevier's ScienceDirect web-portal. Some publishers like Elsevier have accused Library Genesis of providing pirate access to articles and books. In turn, others assert that academic publishers benefit from government-funded research, written by professors—many of whom are employed by public universities.
Library Genesis has roots in the illegal underground samizdat culture in the Soviet Union. In a society where access to printing was strictly controlled by heavy-handed censorship, dissident intellectuals hand copied and retyped manuscripts for secret circulation. This was legalized under President Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s, and expanded very rapidly at a time of affordable desktop computers and scanners, and very small research budgets. The volunteers moved into the Russian computer network ("RuNet") in the 1990s, which became awash with hundreds of thousands of uncoordinated contributions. Librarians became especially active, using borrowed access passwords to download copies of scientific and scholarly articles from Western Internet sources, then uploading them to RuNet. In the early 21st century, the efforts became coordinated, and integrated into one massive system known as Library Genesis, or LibGen, around 2008. It subsequently absorbed the contents of, and became the functional successor to, library.nu, which was shut down by legal action in 2012. By 2014, its catalog was more than twice the size of library.nu with 1.2 million records. As of 28 July 2019,[update] Library Genesis claims to have more than 2.4 million non-fiction books, 80 million science magazine articles, 2 million comics files, 2.2 million fiction books, and 0.4 million magazine issues.
In 2020, the founder of the project created a new website under an alternate domain, "libgen.fun", due to internal conflict within the project. As a result, databases are being maintained independently and content differs between libgen.fun and other Libgen domains.
In 2015, Library Genesis became involved in a legal case with Elsevier, which accused it of copyright infringement and granting free access to articles and books. In response, the admins accused Elsevier of gaining most of its profits from publicly funded research which should be freely available to all as they are paid for by taxpayers. Libgen is reported to be registered in both Russia and Amsterdam, making the appropriate jurisdiction for legal action unclear. Libgen is blocked by a number of ISPs in the United Kingdom, but such DNS-based blocks are claimed to do little to deter access. It is also blocked by ISPs in France, Germany, Greece, Belgium (which redirects to the Belgian Federal Police blockpage), and Russia. In late October 2015, the District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered Libgen to shut down and to suspend use of the domain name (libgen.org), but the site is accessible through alternate domains.
Until the end of 2014, Sci-Hub, which provides free access to millions of research papers and books, relied on LibGen as storage. Papers requested by users were requested from LibGen and served from there if available, otherwise they were fetched by other means and then stored on LibGen.
In 2019 archivists and freedom of information activists launched a project to better seed and host LibGen's data dumps. The project's spokesperson and coordinator 'shrine' described the effort as a way for a "permanent library card for the world" and reported that the response has been "overwhelmingly positive from everyone". In 2020, the project launched a peer-to-peer digital library of content on Sci-Hub and Library Genesis using IPFS.
- "Outcome of Libgen fork". libgen.life. 2021-01-12. Retrieved 2021-05-18.
libgen.fun/life is the only Library Genesis left in the universe at the moment. All the other sites are either irrelevant or lost the affiliation.
- Cabanac, Guillaume (April 2015). "Bibliogifts in Libgen? A study of a text-sharing platform driven by biblioleaks and crowdsourcing" (PDF). Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. 67 (4): 874–884. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.698.4283. doi:10.1002/asi.23445. S2CID 6643023. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
- "About Us". libgen.me. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
The libgen.me links aggregator is a community aiming at collecting and cataloging items descriptions for the most part of scientific, scientific and technical directions, as well as file metadata. In addition to the descriptions, the aggregator contains only links to third-party resources hosted by users. All information posted on the website is collected from publicly available public Internet resources and is intended solely for informational purposes.
- Glance, David. "Elsevier acts against research article pirate sites and claims irreparable harm". The Conversation (U.S. edition). Retrieved 6 April 2020.
- Joe Karaganis and Balazs Bodo, "Russia is building a new Napster — but for academic research" Washington Post July 13, 2018
- Bodó, Balázs (2018-04-27). Library Genesis in Numbers: Mapping the Underground Flow of Knowledge. ISBN 9780262345705.
- Joe Karaganis (2018). Shadow Libraries: Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education. MIT Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-262-34570-5.
- Bodó, Balázs (4 November 2014). "The Genesis of Library Genesis: The Birth of a Global Scholarly Shadow Library": 27. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2616631. SSRN 2616631. Cite journal requires
- "Libgen.lc Home Page". Libgen.lc. Library Genesis. Archived from the original on 2019-08-10. Retrieved 2019-07-28.
- "Reviving the LibGen community". reddit. 2021-02-07. Retrieved 2021-07-30.
- Mance, Henry; Correspondent, Media (2015-05-26). "Publishers win landmark case against ebook pirates". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
- Kamen, Matt (2015-05-27). "UK ISPs must block ebook pirate sites (Wired UK)". Wired UK. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
- Rees, Marc (2019-03-30). "Les principaux FAI français doivent bloquer Sci-Hub et Libgen" [Main French ISPs must block Sci-Hub and Libgen]. Next INpact. Retrieved 2020-01-16.
- "Vodafone Blocks Libgen Following Elsevier, Springer & Macmillan Injunction". TorrentFreak. 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2020-01-16.
- "Decisions of the Committee - ΟΡΓΑΝΙΣΜΟΣ ΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΙΚΗΣ ΙΔΙΟΚΤΗΣΙΑΣ". opi.gr. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
- "Les éditeurs scientifiques se liguent contre la piraterie". L'Echo (in French). 2019-10-16. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
- "Denmark Blocks Sci-Hub Plus Streaming, Torrent & YouTube-Ripping Sites". TorrentFreak. 2019-09-26. Retrieved 2019-10-09.
- "Court Orders Shutdown of Libgen, Bookfi and Sci-Hub - TorrentFreak". TorrentFreak. 2 November 2015. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
- Schiermeier, Quirin (2015). "Pirate research-paper sites play hide-and-seek with publishers". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2015.18876. S2CID 188158277. Retrieved 2015-12-06.
- "Sci-hub, bookfi and libgen resurface after being shut down". TorrentFreak. 21 November 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- Himmelstein, Daniel S; Romero, Ariel Rodriguez; Levernier, Jacob G; Munro, Thomas Anthony; McLaughlin, Stephen Reid; Greshake Tzovaras, Bastian; Greene, Casey S (2018-03-01). "Sci-Hub provides access to nearly all scholarly literature". eLife. 7. doi:10.7554/eLife.32822. ISSN 2050-084X. PMC 5832410. PMID 29424689.
- "Archivists Are Trying to Make Sure a 'Pirate Bay of Science' Never Goes Down". Vice. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
- "Meet the Guy Behind the Libgen Torrent Seeding Movement * TorrentFreak". Retrieved 23 October 2020.
- "IPFS Free Library". freeread.org. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
- "p2p Free Library: Help build humanity's free library on IPFS with Sci-Hub and Library Genesis". reddit. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
- List of mirrors and gateways, including their status.
- Karaganis, Joe; Bodo, Balazs (2018-07-13). "Analysis | Russia is building a new Napster — but for academic research". Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-10-09.