Shadow libraries are online platforms where electronic copies of books, journals, articles etc. are available. The literary content that is available on such shadow library platforms can be accessed by anyone and they mostly contain resources belonging to every genre. Although the open access provided by such shadow libraries put them under the spotlight, what goes overshadowed is the mass intellectual property violation. In other words, shadow libraries are advocates of piracy and cause major copyright violation by making available to the public, free and open access to anyone and everyone, anything and everything.

The most popularly known, rather infamous shadow libraries are Sci-Hub, Z-Library, Open Access, LibGen etc. Various books, research articles and journals are available on these platforms, free of cost. Cutting short to the topic, ‘Relevance of IPR in Shadow Library System’, it is nothing but hard truth that content is hosted by shadow libraries without the consent of the original owners and hence the act of these web-portals is an apparent infringement of copyright laws.

Although academic and scholarly articles are made available online by portals like JSTOR, they can only be accessed upon payment of a subscription fee. Shadow libraries upload these contents free of cost thereby violating copyright laws. These libraries have been in existence for a considerable time now and for obvious reasons, have also gathered a huge audience worldwide. Their aim is to remove barriers in sharing information and eradicate the inequality in knowledge access. These websites function through the money they receive from advertisements on their websites and also through voluntary donations. Therefore, they do not charge their users any fee whatsoever.

Shadow libraries have received opposition from various publishing houses worldwide and as a result, their domains have been banned in certain countries. In fact, the online libraries Sci-Hub and Libgen are facing suit before the Delhi High Court. Three publishing houses- Elsevier, Wiley (and its Indian arm) and the American Chemical Society have moved the Delhi High Court seeking a ban on these shadow libraries and the matter is sub judice. But on the other hand, the researcher and scholar crowd in the country have lauded the libraries for giving them the resources which are otherwise not accessible by them due to the high subscription prices charged by academic journals. These libraries have proved to be effective in giving many users worldwide, especially researchers and students across the globe easy access to academic literature, who hope that the pending suit before the Delhi High Court is also decided on the lines of the DU Photocopy case which held that distributing of copyrighted material for educational purposes does not amount to copyright infringement.


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