While Sci-Hub is loved by thousands of researchers and academics around the world, copyright holders are doing everything in their power to wipe if off the web.
The publisher was further granted a broad injunction, requiring various third-party services to stop providing access to the site. This includes domain registries, hosting companies and search engines.
Soon after the order was signed, several of Sci-Hub’s domain names became unreachable as domain registries and Cloudflare complied with the court order. Still, Sci-Hub remained available all this time, with help from several newly registered domain names.
Frustrated by Sci-Hub’s resilience, ACS recently went back to court asking for an amended injunction. The publisher requested the authority to seize any and all Sci-Hub domain names, also those that will be registered in the future.
“Plaintiff has been forced to engage in a game of ‘whac-a-mole’ whereby new ‘sci-hub’ domain names emerge,” ACS informed the court.
“Further complicating matters, some registries, registrars, and Internet service providers have refused to disable newer Sci-Hub domain names that were not specifically identified in the Complaint or the injunction”
Soon after the request was submitted, US District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema agreed to the amended language.
The amended injunction now requires search engines, hosting companies, domain registrars, and other service or software providers, to cease facilitating access to Sci-Hub. This includes, but is not limited to, the following domain names.
‘sci-hub.ac, scihub.biz, sci-hub.bz, sci-hub.cc, sci-hub.cf, sci-hub.cn, sci-hub.ga, sci-hub.gq, scihub.hk, sci-hub.is, sci-hub.la, sci-hub.name, sci-hub.nu, sci-hub.nz, sci-hub.onion, scihub22266oqcxt.onion, sci-hub.tw, and sci-hub.ws.’
The new injunction makes ACS’ enforcement efforts much more effective. It effectively means that third-party services can no longer refuse to comply because a Sci-Hub domain is not listed in the complaint or injunction.
This already appears to have had some effect, as several domain names including sci-hub.la and sci-hub.tv became inaccessible soon after the paperwork was signed. Still, it is unlikely that it will help to shut down the site completely.
Several service providers are not receptive to US Court orders. One example is Iceland’s domain registry ISNIC and indeed, at the time of writing, Sci-Hub.is is still widely available.
Seizing .onion domain names, which are used on the Tor network, may also prove to be a challenge. After all, there is no central registration organization involved.
For now, Sci-Hub founder and operator Alexandra Elbakyan appears determined to keep the site online, whatever it takes. While it may be a hassle for users to find the latest working domain names, the new court order is not the end of the “whac-a-mole” just yet.
A copy of the amended injunction is available here (pdf).