“In 2009, a Russian neuroscience student named Aleksandra Elbakyan started a master’s thesis on biometric scanning at Kazakhstan University. Like many students and academics outside U.S. and European universities, Elbakyan had little access to research on her topic: her university didn’t subscribe to the international databases that contain most of the world’s scientific articles. Like many scholars in similar positions, she relied on material shared by colleagues based at or visiting universities that do provide access. Finding articles under such circumstances was haphazard and slow. For the most part, Elbakyan obtained them through personal contacts or professional networks that tried to match individual requests for articles with copies.