Several recent developments have shown that those with the power and means to profit the most from the private use of information and knowledge are not willing to relinquish this privilege.
|Heavy Downloader, Aaron Swarts, co-founder of Demand Progress indicted by US authorities on July 19th accused of downloading thousands of academic papers and making them available to a wider audience Picture from Wikipedia|
Furthermore they are taking very specific steps to ensure that no one dares to suggest they should.
On one hand and following some successful hits by the Anonymous Hacker collective in solidarity with Wikileaks, , the US Justice Department announced on July 20th the arrest of 16 individuals (with 5 people held in European territories) and search raids in 35 locations in connection to the referred actions of solidarity. On the other hand, NYT and other corporate media outlets informed of the arrest on June 19th of Aaron Swartz, a Harvard researcher known for his contribution to the development of the RSS tool and his stance in favor of open access. Mr Swartz presumably accessed a protected server at MIT to download a huge number of academic papers and files from JSTOR which he later purportedly uploaded in a file-sharing site (with another upload of massive academic information having been reported recently in apparent solidarity with Mr. Swartz). Finally, is worthy noting (and it will be developed in this very pages) that US, EU and other major western countries have been negotiating (behind closed doors) a new international treaty to counter "piracy", the so called Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) agreement is yet a new attempt by industrialized States (and their corporate backers) to uplift Intellectual Property standards in a way that it will be more difficult to access and share knowledge.
Here you can find the Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto that Mr. Swartz authored some time ago:
Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.
There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.
That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.
“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal — there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back.
Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.
Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.
But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.
Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.
There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.
We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that's out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.
With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?
Aaron Swartz July 2008, Eremo, Italy
Here you can show your support for Mr Swartz in this trying moments.
- A close look at the Stop Online Piracy Act bill Al Jazeera English January 12
- Academic publishers have become the enemies of science Mike Taylor The Guardian January 12
Lawrence Lessig and Aaron Swartz (2002) / Rich Gibson / CC BY
While Aaron might not be any longer among us, his memory and determination shall serve as an example to all of us in keeping up the good fight for which he paid the ultimate price.
"There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.
We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that's out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access"From the Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto July 2008
We shall neither forget those who cornered and bullied Aaron, attempting to intimidate him with the threat of a lenghty prison sentence and a huge fine.
"Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles"From the Official statement from family and partner of Aaron Swartz Jan. 11th 2013Some material on Aaron, his thoughts and work be it with CreativeCommons, Archive.org, or DemandProgress.org,.Remembrances of Aaron, as well as donations in his memory, can be submitted at http://rememberaaronsw.com.
- Family of Aaron Swartz: Government officials partly to blame for his death NBC news January 15th 13
- Official petition to the White House to Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz Jan 12th, 2013
- Aaron Swartz y el mundo que queremos construir Marilink Marilín Gonzalo January 13th, 13
- The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz Glenn Greenwald On Security and Liberty The Guardian January 12th, 13
- Reddit co-founder, Internet activist, Aaron Swartz, dies at age 26 Verena Dobnik Christian Science Monitor January 13th, 13
- Commoció a la xarxa pel suïcidi del jove ciberactivista Aaron Swartz Josep Casulleras NualartVilaweb January 13th, 13
- Comment dégoter un boulot comme le mien How to Get a Job Like MineAaron Swartz - 18 août 2008 - Blog personnel (Traduction : ga3lig, clementd, Amic, tth, bld, KoS, Havok Novak, a_r_n_a_u_d_b, jpcw + anonymous) FramaBlog January 13th 13
#A2K, #MITsnitch #AaronSwartz
- #A2K Drawing the Line Between #Copyright and #FreeKnowledge http://www.statepress.com/2013/01/16/drawing-the-line-between-copyright-and-free-knowledge/ … @BrandoBoySP @statepress v @ipwatch #AaronSwartz #MITsnitchJanuary 21st
- #A2K The Death of #AaronSwartz http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/jan/18/death-aaron-swartz/ … @nybooks @PeterSinger @AgataSagan #MITsnitch #informationshallbefreed January 21st
- #A2K #AaronSwartz y la libertad para conectarse http://www.democracynow.org/es/blog/2013/1/18/aaron_swartz_y_la_libertad_para_conectarse … @DemocracyNowEs v @_rebelion_org #SOPA #MITsnitchJanuary 19th
- #A2K political consequences of academic #paywalls http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/01/2013117111237863121.html … @sarahkendzior @AJEnglish #Aaronswartz #pdftributeJanuary 18th
- #US #AaronSwartz' Prosecution and #DOJ' Extreme #SecurityState Tendencies http://www.alternet.org/activism/how-deadly-prosecution-aaron-swartz-represents-extreme-security-state-tendencies-obamas?paging=off … @marcywheeler @AlterNet v @wikileaksJanuary 16th
- #A2K What is #AaronSwartz's legacy? http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestoryamericas/2013/01/201311575526761114.html … @AJEnglish #informationshallbefreed #MITsnitchJanuary 15th
- #A2K #MIT inicia investigación por muerte de #AaronSwartz TRAS accion de #Anonymous http://www.fayerwayer.com/2013/01/mit-inicia-investigacion-por-la-muerte-de-aaron-swartz-y-es-hackeado-por-anonymous/ … @conysturm @fayerwayer #MITsnitchJanuary 15th
- #A2K Academics share #copyrighted journal articles on Twitter to honor #AaronSwartz http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/13/3872648/academics-share-links-to-copyrighted-journals-to-honor-aaron-swartz … @laura_june @verge v @ipwatch January 15th
- #A2K Manifeste de la guérilla pour le #libreaccès, par #AaronSwartz #pdftribute http://www.framablog.org/index.php/post/2013/01/14/manifeste-guerilla-libre-acces-aaron-swartz … @framasoft v @Rezonet January 15th
- #A2K Duro golpe para la #culturalibre: la muerte de #AaronSwartz http://manzanamecanica.org/2013/01/un_duro_golpe_para_la_cultura_libre_la_muerte_de_aaronswartz.html … @favilar @ManzanaMecanica v @ChaToX January 15th
- #A2K #AaronSwartz y el #PDFtribute: la #investigaciónacadémica debe ser libre http://www.enriquedans.com/2013/01/aaron-swartz-y-el-pdftribute-la-investigacion-academica-debe-ser-libre.html … @edans v @ChaToX January 14th