Good Reasons Not to Mess with Writers' Copyrights
Open-access people, meet the copyright laws. Much has been written about Aaron Swartz, the computer genius who killed himself after being charged with a variety of cybercrimes. Some ardent friends accuse the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of having cruelly called in the police to deal with him.
By then, MIT had foiled multiple attempts to illegally download academic journals and realized that someone had broken in to a wire closet to achieve the same end. MIT security analysts had also detected activity from China on the netbook being used, making them extra wary.
MIT had no idea who it was at the time -- not that this should have made a difference. But some Swartz defenders argue that the tech prodigy rated special treatment.
"When I was at MIT, if someone went to hack the system, say by downloading databases to play with them, (he) might be called a hero, get a degree, and start a computer company. But they called the cops on him. Cops," said an apparently shocked Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive digital library.
The infantilizing culture of academia has led some university wards to expect leniency when they misbehave. In any case, Swartz wasn't playing with databases. He was trying to strip them of their economic value. Also, for the record, he was not an MIT student. He was a 26-year-old with a fellowship at Harvard. And if he had been an undergrad, so what? MIT isn't day care.
Swartz's mission was to "liberate" the databases owned by JSTOR, a nonprofit subscription service selling access to academic journals. Many open-access agitators hold that JSTOR has no right to charge money for its wares. Odd that some of his most vocal defenders are book authors dependent on copyright …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Good Reasons Not to Mess with Writers' Copyrights. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL). Publication date: January 24, 2013. Page number: 8. © 2009 Paddock Publications. COPYRIGHT 2013 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.