Elephants and Elbakyan

Elephants and Elbakyan

Two notes today — one regarding Sci-Hub’s suit in India, and another a thought-provoking framework comparing dandelions to elephants.

In what may be a sign that the suit against Sci-Hub by Wiley, Elsevier, and ACS isn’t going her way, Alexandra Elbakyan applied to withdraw an earlier admission accepting the copyrights of the publishers. This application was recently denied by the Delhi High Court.

The court held that while prior testimony can be refined, it can’t be excluded or fundamentally changed once made. It also rejected Elbakyan’s claims that she wasn’t allowed to inspect some evidence, finding that she had been offered the opportunity to inspect it but opted not to do so.

Elbakyan still holds that she did not infringe on the copyrights, even though now her attempt to take back statements that she recognizes them has been thwarted.

This case has implications for worldwide IP rights. For people who follow the law. Piracy is just a pretense at Sci-Hub, which is really a spyware and hacking operation in disguise. I don’t think Elbakyan’s real boss cares what Western courts decide.

Dandelions and Elephants

An intriguing comparison from the realm of ecology is making the rounds — the so-called r/K selection theory is now being applied to the world of ideas. In short, the idea boils down to:

Ideas that are like dandelions are short, viral, blink-and-they’re-gone. Ideas that are like elephants are robust and strong, well-established, and improved incrementally, with very few genuinely new ideas as offspring. On the spectrum between these extremes, every idea is a little bit of both. In volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (“VUCA”) environments, dandelions will tend to flourish. In more stable and close-to-equilibrium settings, elephants rule.

Have we been treating scientific findings like dandelions when they are really more like elephants?