Freelance coder, philologist and neurobiologist Alexandra Elbakyan is looking for a little help from bitcoin, as platforms like PayPal have turned her down.
Alexandra Elbakyan Looks to BTC for Company Help
Elbakyan runs a website that provides readers with a multitude of academic papers. This wouldn’t be so bad except that most of these papers typically need to be be subscribed to and paid for, whereas her website is looking to offer them for free. As many as 80 million articles are currently available through her site.
The company began when Elbakyan was a graduate student. She had a very difficult time coming across free research that she could read or quote from to back up her own studies and came to the conclusion that this was material that needed to be accessible to everyone. The nature of her website is a bit controversial in that it doesn’t provide financial payments or royalties to the original writers of the papers, so many payment firms – such as PayPal – refuse to work with her.
She’s now asking for bitcoin donations from both fans and readers alike to remain afloat, and thus far, the cryptocurrency has been a positive addition to her operations. In a recent interview, she commented that she gets about 600,000 visits to her site each day even from members of universities and institutions that would otherwise have quick and easy access to these kinds of papers.
Her company – known as Sci-Hub – is a convenient way for virtually anyone to get their hands on leading scientific research, she claims. John Paul Koning, an economist, explained why fiat is usually not an option for figures like Elbakyan:
For most purposes, people prefer to use regular fiat payments because they are easy, but when they get locked out, either because they are engaging in illegal activities or legal ones that are deemed socially unacceptable, bitcoin becomes an option. People who have been locked out of these conventional systems are slowly discovering that bitcoin can serve them.
A Few Problems With Crypto
Even still, Elbakyan stated that cryptocurrency only makes up for a small portion of the donations she receives, as many people are still not comfortable using it. For the most part, payments come through a Russian financial platform called Yandex. She explained:
Somebody wrote to me recently saying that in his country, drug addicts use bitcoin and asked if there were any other ways to donate.
At press time, Sci-Hub appears to be doing rather well for itself, raising nearly $1 million in funding over the past three years alone. However, the company is not eligible to use any U.S.-based financial platforms considering it’s not in good standing with many publishing businesses. Sci-Hub has been sued many times for copyright infringement and other similar offenses. Several of the judges overseeing these cases have ultimately ruled against Sci-Hub and required financial damages be paid.