Aaron Swartz Indictment Leading People To... Upload JSTOR Research To File Sharing Sites

from the backfiring dept

If it's true that Aaron Swartz's foray into an MIT computer wiring closet was as part of a project to copy JSTOR research and upload it to file sharing sites for open access, then I imagine part of the government's rationale for going after him would be the hope that it would act as a deterrent against anyone else doing the same thing. Of course, as I've pointed out with the feds' attempt to arrest members of Anonymous, it seems likely that this move will backfire in a big bad way. All it does is draw much more attention to the original goal. Indeed, Adam points us to the news that a guy by the name of Greg Maxwell just released 33GB of JSTOR scientific papers via The Pirate Bay because of the indictment against Aaron. In this case, believe it or not, it's all public domain research, which JSTOR is trying to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to access. Since I have no idea if the content will remain where it is, I'm publishing the entire note explaining what's in the documents and why they're being published. It's very much worth reading and redistributing his message. The bold emphasis is from me, highlighting what I believe are the important points:
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

This archive contains 18,592 scientific publications totaling 33GiB, all from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and which should be available to everyone at no cost, but most have previously only been made available at high prices through paywall gatekeepers like JSTOR.

Limited access to the documents here is typically sold for $19 USD per article, though some of the older ones are available as cheaplyas $8. Purchasing access to this collection one article at a time would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Also included is the basic factual metadata allowing you to locate works by title, author, or publication date, and a checksum file to allow you to check for corruption.

ef8c02959e947d7f4e4699f399ade838431692d972661f145b782c2fa3ebcc6a sha256sum.txt

I've had these files for a long time, but I've been afraid that if I published them I would be subject to unjust legal harassment by those who profit from controlling access to these works.

I now feel that I've been making the wrong decision.

On July 19th 2011, Aaron Swartz was criminally charged by the US Attorney General's office for, effectively, downloading too many academic papers from JSTOR.

Academic publishing is an odd system -- the authors are not paid for their writing, nor are the peer reviewers (they're just more unpaid academics), and in some fields even the journal editors are unpaid. Sometimes the authors must even pay the publishers.

And yet scientific publications are some of the most outrageously expensive pieces of literature you can buy. In the past, the high access fees supported the costly mechanical reproduction of niche paper journals, but online distribution has mostly made this function obsolete.

As far as I can tell, the money paid for access today serves little significant purpose except to perpetuate dead business models. The "publish or perish" pressure in academia gives the authors an impossibly weak negotiating position, and the existing system has enormous inertia.

Those with the most power to change the system--the long-tenured luminary scholars whose works give legitimacy and prestige to the journals, rather than the other way around--are the least impacted by its failures. They are supported by institutions who invisibly provide access to all of the resources they need. And as the journals depend on them, they may ask for alterations to the standard contract without risking their career on the loss of a publication offer. Many don't even realize the extent to which academic work is inaccessible to the general public, nor do they realize what sort of work is being done outside universities that would benefit by it.

Large publishers are now able to purchase the political clout needed to abuse the narrow commercial scope of copyright protection, extending it to completely inapplicable areas: slavish reproductions of historic documents and art, for example, and exploiting the labors of unpaid scientists. They're even able to make the taxpayers pay for their attacks on free society by pursuing criminal prosecution (copyright has classically been a civil matter) and by burdening public institutions with outrageous subscription fees.

Copyright is a legal fiction representing a narrow compromise: we give up some of our natural right to exchange information in exchange for creating an economic incentive to author, so that we may all enjoy more works. When publishers abuse the system to prop up their existence, when they misrepresent the extent of copyright coverage, when they use threats of frivolous litigation to suppress the dissemination of publicly owned works, they are stealing from everyone else.


Several years ago I came into possession, through rather boring and lawful means, of a large collection of JSTOR documents.

These particular documents are the historic back archives of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society--a prestigious scientific journal with a history extending back to the 1600s.

The portion of the collection included in this archive, ones published prior to 1923 and therefore obviously in the public domain, total some 18,592 papers and 33 gigabytes of data.

The documents are part of the shared heritage of all mankind, and are rightfully in the public domain, but they are not available freely. Instead the articles are available at $19 each--for one month's viewing, by one person, on one computer. It's a steal. From you.


When I received these documents I had grand plans of uploading them to Wikipedia's sister site for reference works, Wikisource--where they could be tightly interlinked with Wikipedia, providing interesting historical context to the encyclopedia articles. For example, Uranus was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel; why not take a look at the paper where he originally disclosed his discovery? (Or one of the several follow on publications about its satellites, or the dozens of other papers he authored?)

But I soon found the reality of the situation to be less than appealing: publishing the documents freely was likely to bring frivolous litigation from the publishers.

As in many other cases, I could expect them to claim that their slavish reproduction--scanning the documents--created a new copyright interest. Or that distributing the documents complete with the trivial watermarks they added constituted unlawful copying of that mark. They might even pursue strawman criminal charges claiming that whoever obtained the files must have violated some kind of anti-hacking laws.


In my discreet inquiry, I was unable to find anyone willing to cover the potentially unbounded legal costs I risked, even though the only unlawful action here is the fraudulent misuse of copyright by JSTOR and the Royal Society to withhold access from the public to that which is legally and morally everyone's property.

In the meantime, and to great fanfare as part of their 350th anniversary, the RSOL opened up "free" access to their historic archives--but "free" only meant "with many odious terms", and access was limited to about 100 articles.

All too often journals, galleries, and museums are becoming not disseminators of knowledge--as their lofty mission statements suggest--but censors of knowledge, because censoring is the one thing they do better than the Internet does. Stewardship and curation are valuable functions, but their value is negative when there is only one steward and one curator, whose judgment reigns supreme as the final word on what everyone else sees and knows. If their recommendations have value they can be heeded without the coercive abuse of copyright to silence competition.

The liberal dissemination of knowledge is essential to scientific inquiry. More than in any other area, the application of restrictive copyright is inappropriate for academic works: there is no sticky question of how to pay authors or reviewers, as the publishers are already not paying them. And unlike 'mere' works of entertainment, liberal access to scientific work impacts the well-being of all mankind. Our continued survival may even depend on it.

If I can remove even one dollar of ill-gained income from a poisonous industry which acts to suppress scientific and historic understanding, then whatever personal cost I suffer will be justified--it will be one less dollar spent in the war against knowledge. One less dollar spent lobbying for laws that make downloading too many scientific papers a crime.

I had considered releasing this collection anonymously, but others pointed out that the obviously overzealous prosecutors of Aaron Swartz would probably accuse him of it and add it to their growing list of ridiculous charges. This didn't sit well with my conscience, and I generally believe that anything worth doing is worth attaching your name to.

I'm interested in hearing about any enjoyable discoveries or even useful applications which come of this archive.

- ----
Greg Maxwell - July 20th 2011
gmaxwell@gmail.com Bitcoin: 14csFEJHk3SYbkBmajyJ3ktpsd2TmwDEBb

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.11 (GNU/Linux)

iEYEARECAAYFAk4nlfwACgkQrIWTYrBBO/pK4QCfV/voN6IdZRU36Vy3xAedUMfz rJcAoNF4/QTdxYscvF2nklJdMzXFDwtF =YlVR
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    The eejit (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 11:26am

    I misread parts fo the PGP sig as "OMGWTFBBQ".

    ...I've been playing too many FPSes.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 11:50am

    I wonder what would happen if this became the standard instead of the exception. Would the journal publishers go after the posters? Would this then end up in front of the supreme court of the United states, and actually do some good? Could the words "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.", actually end up promoting the progess of the arts, the sciences, and mankind? Could a golden age be born of this? Could a new renaissance occur, enlightening all of mankind?

    Who the fuck am I kidding, we are dealing with US politicians and the US legal system. never mind ...

     

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      egghead (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:30pm

      Re:

      Sadly, once I hit "Could a golden age be born of this?" I immediately envisioned playing a game of Civilization. After I snapped back to reality and got to the end of your first paragraph, I was sitting on the edge of my chair silently chanting "Yes!" Then, you had to go and tear down the beautifully painted facade to reveal the tepid corruption that is our legal system. That was one hell of a roller-coaster ride!

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 3:20pm

        Re: Re:

        Thanks, stick with the first paragraph. Personally, I think the entire IP bubble is going to collapse. It's a house of cards built on a false premise, that is being ignored by more than 50% of the population.

        The laws being proposed, and currently on the books in various nations, will highlight that fact. France's Hadopi law is a perfect example of this. Half the household in France infringe on copyright, and that is not going to change. Currently hadopi has tracked down 18 million file sharers, if thats a 1 to 1 ration with house holds thats about half the households in France.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    children of the world unite!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    /slowclap

    this guy has huge balls, and the brains to back it up.

    You have my sword, sir!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    /slowclap

    this guy has huge balls, and the brains to back it up.

    You have my sword, sir!

     

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    Anonymous Poster, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:20pm

    This man is the bravest man in the world today.

    I salute him and his principled stand against the attempt to lock up knowledge behind a walled garden where only the privileged and wealthy can gain access.

    Godspeed to you, Greg Maxwell. You deserve every bit of praise that can possibly be given to you.

     

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    Cowardly coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    There is nothing more frustrating than having to deal with these companies who want to charge $30+ for access to a single journal article. What's worse is they had no hand in the research, creating the article or editing it.

     

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      Lauriel (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 4:59pm

      Re:

      There is nothing more frustrating than having to deal with these companies who want to charge $30+ for access to a single journal article. What's worse is they had no hand in the research, creating the article or editing it.


      Especially when the summary doesn't always give you enough information to tell whether the research is going to be suited to your needs. I recall paying $20 for an article that seemed promising - only to discover that the part that interested me was two paragraphs, poorly supported, at the very end of the three page article.

       

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    Axinar, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    Advice and small correction

    All you people who think this is great should donate some Bitcoin to his account.

    As for it " backfire(ing) in a big bad way" its backfired, Streisand effect style, in a very big and GOOD way.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:36pm

      Re: Advice and small correction

      I do wonder if signing the post with his bitcoin info will give the journals a little more firepower.. but I suppose once you're in, you might as well go all in.

       

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      el_segfaulto (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:22pm

      Re: Advice and small correction

      I tried the Bitcoin experiment a month back and wasn't impressed. But I just transferred the paltry amount I had accumulated to him. Not much but every little bit helps I suppose.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    I hope they sue him for this. Because no court could possibly side with the publishers and declare they have the right to lock up and sue people over public domain IT. Such a decision could (and should) destroy the Academic publishers' entire monopoly racket over scientific progress.

     

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      Anonymous Poster, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:39pm

      Re:

      Because no court could possibly side with the publishers and declare they have the right to lock up and sue people over public domain IT.

      This is America.

      Of course there's a court that could.

       

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      6, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:40pm

      Re:

      "Because no court could possibly side with the publishers and declare they have the right to lock up and sue people over public domain IT. "

      You say that now, but they already did. See the Lexis Nexus/WestLaw cases. They took old cases from the public domain, added page numbers and then claimed copyright.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:07pm

        Re: Re:

        See the Lexis Nexus/WestLaw cases.


        But see Matthew Bender v West Publishing. In summary (it was a complicated litigation):
        The Second Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling that neither West's “star pagination” system (essentially the page breaks in its printed books) nor the text of the decisions are copyrightable.

        The court refused to follow an earlier 8th Circuit decision on the same issue, since it found that that decision relied upon the “sweat of the brow” theory of copyright protection for compilations, which was specifically overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in Feist. After Feist, only an original selection and arrangement of "facts” can be copyrighted.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:44pm

      Re:

      I think you vastly underestimate the technical aptitude, if not the outright morality, of the U.S. justice system as a whole. I would not be the least bit surprised to learn the JSTOR or some other organization is setting up an office somewhere in East Texas as we speak.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:49pm

      Re:

      you have apparently never heard of the 9th Circuit Court where unicorns and the fey frollic(sp?) in harmony

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:07pm

      Re:

      Theres A Court For That

       

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    6, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:39pm

    I support what this man is doing. It is a long time in the coming. What remains is for people to stop publishing in the established journals and simply publish online for all to read, after peer-review has taken place.

     

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      EM (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:51pm

      Re:

      yes!! Open Source Journals! I am already with you...

       

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      CommonSense (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:53pm

      Re:

      Someone should get a kickstarter going for a website for academic's to post their work to, with a section for the works that have "yet to be reviewed", and a special log-in section for their peers (credentials would have to be sorted out, can't have random clowns claiming they are valid reviewers) so they can go in and review them... Then, as soon as enough peers have reviewed, BOOM, right into the World Wide Web for all to see, for simply the cost of an internet connection... Now THAT would promote progress.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Re:

        You do realize that this has already been done, yes?

         

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        6, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:00pm

        Re: Re:

        I already had that same idea. However, I'm currently making another start up site and there are only so many hours in my day to revolutionize the useful arts and science.

        If you want to take the lead on that project I'll join forces and bring the forces I have for my start up site to help you as much as we can.

        examiner6k@yahoo.com

        Eventually, if you don't get it done, I will add it on to my site if the "main course" of my site catches on and makes $$$. Or at least breaks even.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 1:01am

        Re: Re:

        We could call it.. I don't know.. how about PLoS? plos.org

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:54am

        Re: Re:

        'Open Journal Systems' software (http://pkp.sfu.ca/?q=ojs), developed & distributed by the Public Knowledge Project (Stanford+UBC+SFU) is presently powering over 5000 open access academic journals around the world.

        We don't need new software, we need tax payers to demands access to the publications they fund.

         

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    Donny (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:41pm

    1. That's fantastic.

    2. Greg Maxwell's a bloody hero.

    3. But can I download the torrent? No, because my ISP has sensibly blocked access to Pirate Bay. Only thieves and criminals use it anyway, right? :-|

     

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      out_of_the_blue, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:51pm

      Re:

      WHY would you want to download this (and perhaps pore through 33 gigabytes)? JUST to think you're giving JSTOR a poke in the eye? Your ISP has wisely saved themselves bandwidth costs.

       

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        Jay (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:06pm

        Re: Re:

        That they don't have to pay in the first place... The cost of bandwidth is less than 2 cents, IIRC.

         

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        Donny (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:31pm

        Re: Re:

        Well, see, I said that as an aside to point out that listen, ISP, it's dumb that Pirate Bay is blocked when after all it can allow access to free, public domain, legal materials. Bah humbug.

        But you assumed I was trying to stick it to them by downloading 33 gigs I didn't want. That's not what I meant, but I guess I phrased it badly. But listen, your interpretation? It's goddamn stupid! You get that, right? I mean, you clearly thought I was stupid when you figured that was my motivation, right? But it's really bloody dumb!

        Lookit,
        a) If I wanted to stick it to my ISP, I'd stop paying them with money that covers whatever bandwidth costs I incur on them, plus.

        b) If I were to download that torrent, it'd be for my enrichment. Not my profit, or my revenge, or any cruel motivations. Just to indulge my natural curiosity about the development of science and history of philosophy.

        Your reading though, jeez. It was stupid.

         

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          out_of_the_blue, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          When you write, try to remember we're not in your head.

          So, if, er, out of the blue, you say you want to download 33 gigabytes of DULL material, I supply an answer.

           

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            Dave, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:50pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            When you write, try to remember we're not in your head.


            I've read a few of your posts. I am *so* glad I'm not in your head.

             

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            Nathan F (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It may be DULL material to you.. but to some astronomer (to use an example of material he specified was in the packet) being able to read the original paper by Herschel could very well be a delight that he never had a chance to do before because A) it was locked behind the paywall or B) it was locked behind a wall and he didn't know it existed.

             

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            Donny (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Dull material? DULL material?? Are you freaking kidding me??

            If it's dull, why did Greg download the archives in the first place? If it's dull, why did he think anyone would care about his sharing it? If it's dull, why do people typically need to pay (and pay a lot) to get access to it? If it's dull, why's the journal still going, heck why was it started at all?


            ...And that's why your comment was stupid.

             

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            G Thompson (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 10:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            DUll?

            These are the full articles from the "Proceedings of the Royal Society of London" since it's conception.

            I mean it's the Western Worlds holy grail of Scientific history.

            I for one are currently downloading it and am considering placing it online using a searchable database. Especially since it is absolutely Public Domain, no matter what metatags, et.al have been applied to it, and is invaluable for any current or future human to understand the cultural history of Western Science and Philosophy!

            If the US Govt, or even JSTOR want to come after me for doing this, or even downloading it, i relish the opportunity to send them packing, not least that the US govt, nor JSTOR have any ability to even think they have any ownership or rights in this information. If anything it is owned by all citizens of the Commonwealth which America decided to remove themselves from way back in 1776. Though I, and the Statute of Anne, both state that it s owned by the citizens of the world. Ie: Public property!

             

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:40pm

        Re: Re:

        Those wacky high bandwidth costs! Personally I worry more about running out of bits on my network. I have a guy that comes by and fills the bits up on my LAN and oils up internet cables.

         

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          Rich Fiscus (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Make sure he checks for packet collisions. You wouldn't believe the damage those things can do.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 7:59pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Packet Collisions

            Absolutely right. We have a specialist network expert come round every month to clear out the wreckage of packet collisions from our network cables in our big city building. He's expensive, but it's worth it. He's got a vuvuzella and he puts the vuvuzella up against each network socket and gives it a good blast. Of course he has to unplug and power down each computer to give him access to the socket, but that's OK. We tease him about how much time he spends waiting for Windows to finish updating itself.

            When he is finished, our network works so much better. Those vuvuzellas, they are magic. Who would have thought that they were such an essential piece of network maintenance gear?

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:15pm

      Re:

      1. Absolutely.

      2. I couldn't agree more.

      3. Magnet link. Alternatively, one of the comments on the page linked to a copy of the torrent here.

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:47pm

    If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

    then you're just plain saying that librarians don't deserve to be paid. -- Yes, I know and admit the sources and how it's "free" information. But the storing, cataloging, keeping the equipment humming, and lights on so that it's always available ain't free, and while I certainly object to the /high price/, that there /should/ be /some/ fee paid to the librarians for services seems absolutely solid.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:50pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      if its on the internet, then its the cost of bandwidth, stick some ads on it and call it good.

      welcome to the internet, enjoy your stay

       

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        out_of_the_blue, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:32pm

        Re: Re: Information wants to be "free", as in "ADVERTISEMENT FREE"

        Ads in scientific articles, indeed.

         

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          btr1701, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:53pm

          Re: Re: Re: Information wants to be "free", as in "ADVERTISEMENT FREE"

          > Ads in scientific articles, indeed.

          Not ads in the articles, genius. Ads on the web site that makes the articles available.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:51pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      while we're at it, lets build some walls and hire some gaurds!

       

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        fogbugzd (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:11pm

        Re: Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

        >>while we're at it, lets build some walls and hire some gaurds!

        You don't understand Nina's Cartoon. We don't hire the guards or build walls. We have the government do that for us. We only charge for access. http://goo.gl/57FO1

         

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      Ikarushka (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:01pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      Guess who pays for traffic lights. Poor city technicians repair them for free... Let's marry parking meter with traffic light: Green light is what you want? A handful of quarters and off you go!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:02pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      And the buggy whip makers?

      You have no clue what Librarians actually do. Consider that fact that there are masters and phd programs in Library Sciences. I'm sorry but I don't think those programs cover how to turn on and off a light or keeping a computer running. But it is about catalogging information in a meaningful way. The more that the information is open and access to all, the more there skill is needed to help direct others seeking the information.

       

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      DannyB (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:04pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      I don't have a problem with JSTOR indexing and collating this and charging a trillion dollars for it.

      However, if the information is truly freely available, then JSTOR should absolutely not have exclusive access to it. Lock it up. Charge a trillion dollars. And nobody will come.

      There are plenty of other parties that would be happy to store, serve, pay bandwidth costs, catalog and index this, "keeping the lights on" as you say -- and do it for free. (Probably an advertising based model.)


      > there /should/ be /some/ fee paid to the librarians
      > for services seems absolutely solid.

      Wrong.

      They could charge for access like JSTOR does (but something reasonable). Or some generous donor might fund it. Or they might put ads on web pages that serve it.

      There is no absolute rule or reason that people should have to pay to access this data.

       

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        out_of_the_blue, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:49pm

        Re: Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

        First, did you read this part of mine?

        "...and while I certainly object to the /high price/..."

        2nd, there's apparently no other source for these.

        And to various: part of the "librarian" work was presumably in scanning them from physical documents. They didn't just walk a Tri-Corder through and get it all magically online.

         

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          RD, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

          "And to various: part of the "librarian" work was presumably in scanning them from physical documents. They didn't just walk a Tri-Corder through and get it all magically online."

          ...and this was addressed by the Supreme Court as "Sweat of the brow" and not eligible for copyright protection.

           

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          DannyB (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

          1. I did read your objection to the high price.

          2. That's a good point. Nonetheless, it is no different than PACER erecting a paywall to public court documents.

          If JSTOR makes those documents available, and JSTOR has no copyright -- then they have no case of "infringement".

          I can very much understand that JSTOR may not like this.

          JSTOR may once have served a purpose. In the computer and internet age, they don't. At least not at those prices.

          At any price, someone can pay the price, access the documents, and turn around and make them available. If the issue is one person downloading too much, then more people will coordinate to do it. If the download limits are severe, then they'll do it slowly.

          Maybe they'll do something clever like RECAP is for PACER. Anyone running the RECAP plugin in their browser who vists PACER automatically uploads the (public domain) PACER documents to RECAP at which point they are now available to all for free. It may take awhile, but all those public domain documents will be available for free.

          I'm sorry if you don't like it. Or if JSTOR doesn't like it. But they don't have a legal case to go after Aaron. You can try to grasp for straws of a legal claim, but people will make this information available for free. It was only a matter of time.

          The higher their price, the sooner the time comes.

           

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          hegemon13, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:23pm

          Re: Re: Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

          "2nd, there's apparently no other source for these."

          Uh, yeah, that's the problem. There SHOULD be other sources to these public domain works, but JSTOR has it locked up.

           

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      kisune (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:09pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      There was a fee possibly paid when the work was authored. If not, the time is far past for compensation. This is just a company that wants to lock up knowledge for their own profit. Freeing up the information would cause it to be duplicated across the internet resulting in constant availability. Then again, that would defeat the purpose of the company wouldn't it? I say that there is no need for a company dedicated to locking up the information behind a paywall when it should be freely available to the public.

       

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      Rich Fiscus (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:21pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      then you're just plain saying that librarians don't deserve to be paid. -- Yes, I know and admit the sources and how it's "free" information. But the storing, cataloging, keeping the equipment humming, and lights on so that it's always available ain't free, and while I certainly object to the /high price/, that there /should/ be /some/ fee paid to the librarians for services seems absolutely solid.
      No, librarians shouldn't be paid for locking publicly funded research away from the very people who paid for it. They should be thrown in jail for that.

       

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      Rich Fiscus (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:35pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      And before you start flogging your straw man again, releasing this stuff as a torrent is replacing most of those costs and others have long since been covered. Librarians also shouldn't be paid to do things we don't need them to do. Their jobs are, and should be, supported by a variety of government and private funding, but only up to the point where they do something useful. We don't need them to be the gatekeepers for works completed, catalogued, and indexed a century ago. We need them to help us deal with the works yet to be created.

       

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      Trails (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 3:07pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      Funny, tpb has full text search, and doesn't ask me to pay to keep it's equipment humming, I just have to deal with some slightly obnoxious ads.

      "you're just plain saying that librarians don't deserve to be paid."
      Deserve's got nothing to do with it.

       

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      Lauriel (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 5:18pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      then you're just plain saying that librarians don't deserve to be paid. -- Yes, I know and admit the sources and how it's "free" information. But the storing, cataloging, keeping the equipment humming, and lights on so that it's always available ain't free, and while I certainly object to the /high price/, that there /should/ be /some/ fee paid to the librarians for services seems absolutely solid.


      You realise you just justified the Pirate Bay and similar sites running ads and recieving donations, right? We knew you'd get it eventually.

       

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      G Thompson (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 10:43pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      You really don't understand the real reason for Government and taxes do you?


      A Library is a public institution. Look up the definition of public, and what Tertiary Learning Institutions are supposed to be all about.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 5:46am

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      From the interview conducted with Gred Maxwell by the Chronicle of Higher Education:

      “I have sympathy for the position that distribution costs money and that those costs should be supported by people who value the work... What I don’t have sympathy for is the position that making a century-old document available costs nearly $20 every single time it is accessed.”

      URL: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/user-posts-thousands-of-jstor-files-online/32378

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

      Re: If these documents aren't publicly available without JSTOR...

      Libraries have to pay for the papers, they don't get money from the sales.

       

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    Patrick Thompson, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 12:53pm

    Awesome

    As happy as I am to see someone take a stand, I hope that he is able to live up to his claim as anonymity probably would of been safer in all regards.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    They destroyed the Library of Alexandria too

     

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      DannyB (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:07pm

      Re:

      Who is "they"?

      What do you mean by destroyed?

      What is your point?


      This seems like making the Library of Alexandria even more widely available to anyone. Nothing is being destroyed.

      If all of a sudden JSTOR can't make money because people can get this data elsewhere, then JSTOR is obviously not providing anything of value. Some argue that they are providing a service "keeping the lights on", "indexing", "collating", etc. But if people stop coming to JSTOR, then obviously nobody needed this.

      We live in the age of computers and the internet.

      Maybe JSTOR once served a purpose. But so did the horse and buggy.

      If JSTOR can't survive with this information out in the public where it belongs, then good riddance.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:11pm

    http://blog.lib.umn.edu/copyrightlibn/2011/07/jail-for-downloading-too-many-articles.html

    Also, JSTOR isn't the great villain some people here are making it out to be. You should blame the *publishers*.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    We need about 10,000 more people just like this...

    ...to liberate everything that belongs to the people and not to corporations or governments. THIS is why we built the Internet, THIS is why we endured being called geeks and crazies, THIS is why we spent decades of our lives working our asses off.

     

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    Matt Williams (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:30pm

    LHCb

    This is why I'm glad to be working on the LHCb experiment at CERN where it is a requirement of all papers published by the collaboration to be only published in a full open-access way (http://scoap3.org/).

     

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      G Thompson (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 11:05pm

      Re: LHCb

      Small world, Was just talking to a friend of mine over in USA about what your doing with the LHCb. Intriguing stuff! As well as about latest SNAFU with Mr Swartz and JSTOR and all commercialised e-journal places.

      I agree that specialised open resource places like scoap3.org and the even bigger http://ssrn.com/ are not only needed but a necessity nowadays for allowing the freeflow of information in scientific and non-scientific communities worldwide.

       

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    RD, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Best ever

    This guy and this post are the most awesome indictment of abuse of copyright I've ever seen. Good work, fantastic letter, and keep up the good fight.

     

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    Rich Fiscus (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:39pm

    Interesting this should come up now

    I was interviewing someone just yesterday for an article I'm working on and he made an interesting observation about his experiences in China that I think is relevant to this story. He pointed out that despite every bit of personal communication being monitored and the constant threat of punishment hanging over their heads, the Chinese people continue to use technology the way they want to. In fact they use all that surveillance to let the government know when they are upset. When the Chinese government implements a policy they don't like, the people don't try to hide their opposition to it. Instead they loudly criticize the government in phone conversations, text messages, the internet, or whatever platform they have at their disposal.

    The point is, this sort of thing is the natural human reaction to horrific abuse of power. Even if you give the copyright lobbyists all the laws they want, even if the punishment is spending the rest of your life in prison or worse, it won't stop people from doing something if they believe in it strongly enough. Using the government to threaten those who oppose you may scare some into inaction, but it will strengthen the resolve of others. How many people can you threaten or sue or send to jail before the people have had all they can take? That's what those in charge of all these legacy copyright industries should be asking themselves. Because once we reach that point they'll look back fondly on the days when copying was the only thing they worried about.

     

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    mike allen (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:39pm

    Craig Maxwell you have my respect sir more power to you.

     

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    Jay (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 1:40pm

    A thought on archiving

    If anything, filesharing networks are just like libraries of the past and present. They indicate what's popular, what's relevant in society and what people want on a scale that those in the entertainment industry don't understand.

    It's rather ironic. People take time to vilify filesharing networks for being more efficient ways of distributing data and now, it's being used to archive data that was cooped up in a bottle like a genie.

    So when are we going to destroy any libraries for the sake of Barnes and Noble making more money?

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:51pm

    JSTOR is a not-for-profit service. http://about.jstor.org/about-us

     

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    Rabbit80, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    Torrent added to my seedbox.. It can stay there for as long as I have the seedbox as well!

     

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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 21st, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    Wow

    I wish I could mark that guy's entire statement as insightful.

    Instead, I'll just help seed his torrent and send some bitcoins his way.

     

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    ShiFt, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 4:53pm

    Now that corporations are people will copyrights not be tied to corporate existence plus 50 years? So keeping people separated from information published before corporations became people is imperative.

     

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    Maxwell Smart, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 8:00pm

    Gentlemen i salute science day

    yes folks today i give you before the great nation of the usa falls to bankruptcy 400,000 $ of science articles meant to control mankind. THE great experiment is soon to begin and now knowledge shall set us all free.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 10:39pm

    I am proud to be called human today...

    I vote this entire article gets top place for Insightfull this week..... now if only articles came with buttons.

    Was avoiding bitcoin but now am gonna have to go find some and 30Gb space on my NAS to help seed from.

    Public Domain should be free (as in knowledge) and able to be freed (as in beer).

    Points to you sir!

     

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    R, Jul 21st, 2011 @ 11:31pm

    I've heard of national heroes before, but Greg Maxwell should considered an international hero.

    However, it is unfair that we let Greg Maxwell fight alone. Those of us who feel Greg Maxwell stands for something important ought to do what we can to support this cause, even if it isn't much.

    Having studied science as an undergrad, I am disgusted by the peer-reviewed journals and I find it appalling that Science could be locked away from people like that.

    Science is supposed to have credibility because every study and experiment is supposed to be documented and accessible. Plenty of teachers have told me "You obviously can't know everything, but you can trust your textbooks and expert's authority because if in doubt about anything, you can just check the original sources they refer to, and you'll see the information in your textbook is correct".
    Without the ability to check original sources, this all falls apart.

    We should start questioning every claim made by scientists, solely as a matter of principle. "You say the Earth is round? I don't believe you, I don't have access to the sources and the evidence you refer to." Hopefully this will make the authors of these articles realize the problem is important and they'll move to change the way publication works. Experts hate nothing more than having their authority questioned.

     

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      Sonja (profile), Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 11:08am

      Re:

      I agree with your statement.. but I dont feel that is enough. I study part time and work during the day, so its impossible to me to access any published information I require from the library (which is only open during working hours). It is also not available via the university website because of publisher constraints. In all my courses sofar we havent made use of any information behind behind a paywall either. And I think, especially for anything in the IT industry, to not be in the open relegates you to obscurity. Not that these people get it. We are suppose to be building on information, not reinventing the wheel. I can understand if you have to recoup costs in digitizing info, but then charge a nominal fee until such time the costs incurred is paid off. Why dont they have something like the safari books online model for the papers then (its not perfect, but its a start)?

      In the meantime I bypass any paywalled papers and only reference whats freely available, becuase Im certainly not going to pay 20$ for a 100 papers to find the ones I am really after.

       

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    Scientist, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 2:47am

    Most research is conducted by universities and non-profit universities that uses taxpayer dollars. So taxpayers should have free access to it -- they're the ones who paid for it.

     

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    Ayonymous, Jul 22nd, 2011 @ 6:04am

    Who will pay

    If all this stuff should be free, why didn't Greg Maxwell pay to digitize and catalog these documents himself? Some are quite rare if they are from the 1600s, so it might take him a while to track them all down and to properly scan them. At that point, he would "own" them as they are in the public domain and he could do what we wants with them. Instead, he took the work of other people and gave it away.

     

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    crowdedfalafel (profile), Jul 23rd, 2011 @ 9:42am

    sluts

    The problem goes way beyond the greedy mugs of JSTOR (which see: http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2009/133/857/2009-133857105-06a32823-9.pdf)

    Our academia is a feckless, mindless, slutty epiphenomenon of capitalism amok. Just as the Net was getting the traction to become a universal library, a few smart greedy guys saw their main chance. Created a business model that worked for them, primarily by creating an artificial scarcity that allowed academic publishers to remain mindlessly printing their journals instead of being challenged to find ways to become entirely present digitally, and accessible to all. Micropayments if necessary, but hardly necessary to pay 8 JSTOR execs over $250,000 a year to "execute" this extortion scheme. Feh.

     

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    Sheogorath (profile), Sep 1st, 2012 @ 5:43pm

    A new advert

    JSTOR: the Disney Corporation of Scientific Research.

     

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