Tuesday, 15 January 2013 19:29

Thousands link to copyrighted scientific papers as a sign of protest

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Scientists from the U.S. and from around the world went into an internet campaign on Twitter posting links to PDF files of scientific research in honor of the late Aaron Swartz who believed that access to such data should be free for all. Swartz was faced with a lawsuit because of his attempts to share scientific papers from JSTOR's. The lawsuit was $4 million in fines and 50 years in prison for allegedly "stealing" from a database, but in fact he had the legal right to access those papers.

The campaign in memory of Swartz began on the weekend when a certain Micah Allen, a researcher from the fields of neuroscience and cognitive science, made suggestions on Reddit to all scientists and those with access to scientific documents to freely distribute them over the Internet. He said “a fitting tribute to Aaron might be a mass protest uploading of copyright-protected research articles. Dump them on Gdocs, tweet the link. Think of the great blu-ray encoding protest but on a bigger scale for research articles.”

So far there have been hundreds of people who have listened to this proposal and provided links to research papers using the hashtag #pdftribute. The absurdity of the process that took place against Swartz was emphasized by the recent decision of JSTOR to make over 4.5 million articles from their database publicly available and those are exactly the ones for which Swartz came under fire from prosecutors.

[Ed – Schwartz committed suicide rather than face the long prison term that prosecutors were trying to push for what they deemed to be a willful data breach and theft. Oddly enough a similar case was thrown out because like Schwartz the accused had legal access to the material and it was found that the reposting of it was not in violation of any agreements or copyright. This case hammers home the harsh reality that corporations really do care more about profit than human life or even the law. How can anyone conceive of imposing a 50 year sentence for the release of information that should be public? It simply astounds us as much as we are saddened by the loss. Schwartz was also one of the people that helped to create the RSS (Rich Site Summary also called Really Simple Syndication) protocol that is used by millions of sites daily to distribute information around the globe. Schwartz also co-founded the hive-mind news site Reddit The world really is lessened by Aaron Schwartz’s death.]

You can read JSTOR's public statement

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Read 2943 times Last modified on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 19:56

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