As we've pointed out many times in the past, the originally stated
purpose of copyright law was to encourage the sharing of scientific knowledge for the purpose of learning. The first copyright act in the US was actually entitled "for the encouragement of learning." Yet, as copyright law has evolved, it's frequently been used to make learning much more difficult. Just a few months ago, we covered how publishing giant Elsevier had started to demand
that academics who had published their own research on Academia.edu take down those works. As we noted then, while big journal publishers often demand that academics hand over their copyright in order to get published, they usually would either grant an exception for an academic to post their own work, or at least look the other way when the academics would do so. And many, many academics obviously decided to post their own papers to the web.
As TorrentFreak reports, the American Society of Civil Engineers has taken it up a level, hiring one of the more well-known copyright enforcement companies out there, Digimarc, to go around issuing DMCA takedown on academics uploading their own works
The publisher has hired the piracy protection firm Digimarc to police the internet for articles that are posted in the wild. As a result, universities all across the globe were targeted with takedown notices, which were also sent to Google in some cases.
The list of rogue researchers is long, and includes professors from MIT, Stanford, Northwestern University, University of Washington, UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin–Madison and many international universities.
Yes, basically, ASCE has declared that its own academic authors are a bunch of pirates
. If you're a civil engineer, now is the time to start looking seriously at alternatives for publishing beyond the ASCE. Declaring war on the academics who provide you all of your content for free
, just seems like a bad idea.
Torrentfreak notes that it appears that some universities have resisted these takedown demands. Stanford, MIT and UC Berkeley still have the works in question up. Other schools, however, have quickly caved in. University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Texas-Austin appear to have pulled down the works. Because, you can't support the progress of science if your damn academics are giving away their works for free... instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for access to basic knowledge and research.