Documentary Paywall: The Business of Scholarship

Paywall: The Business of Scholarship is a documentary which focuses on the need for open access to research and science.

The film questions the rationale behind the $25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit academic publishers, examines the 35-40% profit margin associated with the top academic publisher, Elsevier, and looks at how that profit margin is often greater than some of the most profitable tech companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Google.

Staying true to the open access model, the film is free to stream and download, for private or public use, and maintains the most open CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons designation to ensure anyone regardless of their social, financial, or political background will have access.

Click here for a free download of Paywall: The Business of Scholarship

Click here to download a large uncompressed .MOV version for large scale screenings

Open Access Button


We urgently need trusted knowledge that’s fairly owned, created, and read. We’re addressing that by creating a family of library-aligned, open source tools built not-for-profit, but for-change. Our tools make it simpler to do research without subscriptions.

The project started when students got tired of hitting paywalls. Instead of accepting their frustration, they became inspired and took an idea to track the impact of paywalls to a hackday. The Open Access Button was launched in November 2013.

How it works
Finding free, legal, full-text articles

Thanks to the efforts of librarians, scholars, and technologists and the Open Access movement it’s easier than ever to legally and freely read millions of articles. Our sources include all of the aggregated repositories in the world, hybrid articles, open access journals, and those on authors personal pages.

Unpaywall Data
Europe PMC

We don’t use content from ResearchGate or

Our tools for libraries will leverage paid-for subscription to journals, and the interlibrary loan system, a ubiquitous, powerful system for getting access to articles without subscriptions.

Making research available

When an article isn’t freely available we ask the authors to share it by putting it into a repository. We help authors share quickly, legally, and widely so that not only you get access – but everyone does, forever!

Long term, we’re building a request system for research that can open up articles, data, methods, and code. We believe that until it’s shared, it’s not really science. With most knowledge stuck behind paywalls or on hard drives, our current request systems (e.g “available on request” or “email the author”) are not up the task and instead drive scientific distrust, not advancement. We believe a request system for science should be open, community-owned infrastructure that’s free to use, citable, effective, safe, and just – not an email lost to a broken address or ignored in an overflowing inbox.