Elsevier is one of the largest academic publishers in the world and they are locked in a battle against piracy. The company has found that hundreds of thousands of digital textbooks are found on sites like Sci-Hub, Libgen and Bookfi. Elsevier views these sites as a major threat to its business model and last year it filed a complaint at a New York District Court, accusing the sites’ operators of systematic copyright infringement. It now wants help in this lawsuit from Cloudflare and has filed a subpoena to get it.
Most of the pirate websites used to do business with Cloudflare for their CDN services and the publisher is hoping that they still have crucial information on file. Elsevier already tried to obtain the host IP addresses of the sites through the “Trusted Reporter” program, but Cloudflare replied that it could not share this info for sites that are no longer active on its network.
The main problem that Elsevier is facing is the anonymity factor. They cannot positively ID all of the owners of the websites involved, since they mask their IP addressed with content delivery networks, such as CloudFlare. According to Elsevier, a court-ordered discovery subpoena is the only option to move the case forward and identify the defendants behind Libgen and Bookfi.