The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a recently-published study that monitored a file-sharing site where almost 5,500 scholarly articles were traded over a 6-month period, "costing journals about $700,000 in that time, or about $1.4-million a year." Interestingly, the study is freely available online from The Internet Journal of Medical Informatics. I call BS on the monetary figure, but you can't dispute there's obviously a black market for scholarly material.
And that's where DeepDyve comes in. From their site:
Research - Search across 30 million articles from thousands of authoritative journals.It's that rental part that's so interesting. Your $0.99 will buy you 24-hour access to the article, though "Some of DeepDyve's articles are "Preview Only." DeepDyve does not currently have permission from the publisher to rent these articles." They'll also link you directly to the publisher's website where you can actually download the article (and where people will be shocked at how much these things actually "cost" - Paul).
Rent - Rent premium articles for just $0.99. View open access articles for FREE.
Read - Read the entire article in DeepDyve's Viewer.
I signed up for the two-week free trial to see what the reader looked like, and how well the search engine worked. As I suspected, you can do screen grabs of the articles (rendered in a Flash reader), so the rental part isn't really an issue. They do chunk up the articles though, making that process and the subsequent re-reading a PITA.
The search engine is a basic single box, though Advanced Filters does offer more options. Doesn't seem to respect phrase searching in quotes. Hmmm, through my Account info I can see my viewing history, which while may prove convenient to researchers, certainly raises a big red flag around privacy and confidentiality. I don't see an option to turn that off. Wow, I got 87,333 results on a search for "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"! Which is ten less than my search on "supertramp"... Umm, I think that search engine needs a little more work.
Overall though it was a pleasant experience, and I predict that as long as they've actually got agreements with the publishers, independent researchers are going to go for this product.