TorrentFreak reports that Elsevier has filed suit in New York District Court against LibGen and another search engine, SciHub.org. The publisher alleges that the sites are pirating articles from Elsevier's ScienceDirect platform.
ScienceDirect is of course behind a paywall and thus inaccessible to the general public, but most universities pay a license fee so students and faculty can access it. According to the complaint (pdf), the pirates scraped the content using an illicitly acquired student or faculty access.
"Defendants are reproducing and distributing unauthorized copies of Elsevier’s copyrighted materials, unlawfully obtained from ScienceDirect, through Sci-Hub and through various websites affiliated with the Library Genesis Project."
The complaint goes on to read: "Specifically, Defendants utilize their websites located at sci-hub.org and at the Libgen Domains to operate an international network of piracy and copyright infringement by circumventing legal and authorized means of access to the ScienceDirect database."
I've never heard of Sci-Hub before, but LibGen is an infamous pirate site so Elsevier's allegations are probably true (I do quibble, though, on the point of whether LibGen is hosting the content).
Elsevier is suing with the goal of getting an injunction against the sites' operators, search engines, domain registrars, life coaches, and webhosts in order to take the sites down. The LibGen domain is registered in the Netherlands, and much to my surprise Sci-Hub has a PO Box in Delaware, so both sites should be within the reach of Elsevier.
Elsevier is seeking compensation for its losses. Given that the sites give away the articles for free, I'm not sure what Elsevier expects to get out of it. But that is their business.
image by Jorge Franganillo