Comments on: The difference between Google and Aaron Swartz Where media and technology meet Wed, 16 Nov 2016 08:48:25 +0000 hourly 1 By: ShadowFox Thu, 21 Jul 2011 20:54:37 +0000 I am not entirely convinced that this is correct analysis. First, there is some speculation that this was intended as a test case–tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you whom you’re trying to piss off). But what I am concerned about is that the issue is not so much the collection of data as the methods deployed in order to achieve it. The copyright issue itself would be a matter for JSTOR to resolve–if JSTOR said that Swartz complied with their policies (even if the agreement was reached after the fact, as it has), the feds would not be able to pursue the case on that basis alone. The hitching post for that horse is that the method of obtaining the information, in itself, was illegal–effectively tantamount to a break-in. Note, specifically, that Swartz is not being charged with copyright violations. He’s not being charged with conspiring to distribute the information. He’s being charged as a hacker, not as pirate.

What you’re alleging concerning your former employer amounts to standard operating practice in academia. In fact, many academics were significantly annoyed by the Kinko decision because it essentially allowed journal publishers to control academic and educational distribution of their work. They could no longer include even their own published papers in readers for their classes without paying royalties (usually highly overpriced) to the publishers. So, instead of using the published papers, many authors simply used earlier internal drafts for distribution. They use these in readers and they share them with colleagues who use them in their readers. They place their own papers on their own websites and, as far as I know, no author, no matter what his academic status, has been challenged by a journal publisher with respect to such placement (although many authors who consider it to be “an abundance of caution” simply place links to the pay-walled copies in their profiles).

It would a very interesting legal challenge if a publisher tried to go after an author of an article in one of its publications. Even if the suit had solid legal standing (which is by no means obvious), the publisher would risk a major boycott of its journals by the academic community. Imagine what happens if even one such academic publication loses all its submissions. No publisher is going to risk that. And this is exactly what you found in the response to you question.

But I am still a bit puzzled about this entire passage: “Yet he was in a field that was moving faster than the journals could help facilitate. He took matters into his own hands by publishing the articles on the laboratory’s site, almost always violating the licensing terms of his own work (rights now held by Elsevier or AAAS, not the author).” If the work had already been published in the journal, it was already available to academia and there would be no need to accelerate access. If it was in submission stages, then the manuscripts would fall into that gray area of copyright where licensing terms are of questionable validity–does the copyright belong to the journal or to the author. Certainly the RESULTS are open–in fact, the author is free to re-package the content of the paper and distribute it on his own–it’s not like the publisher can charge him with plagiarism of his own work. And if the publisher decided to sever ties prior to publication, as the author said, it was THEIR loss–the article or one resembling it in content would go to a different publication. And, as far as I know, no journal or its parent company holds rights to FUTURE publications, so if something was yet to be submitted, certainly the author held the copyright and had every right to publish it as he saw fit. In any case, claiming that self-distribution was “illegal” is a bit of a stretch, at best. And I did not even get into another hairy legal area–fair use.

By: oneras Thu, 21 Jul 2011 06:26:05 +0000 “Swartz might have served everyone better, including himself, if he had asked those questions up front and tried to get them addressed, and maybe even solved, in a cooperative and open public manner” But what makes you think he hasn’t tried this yet? I believe this is the key. He’s a know activist who has been pursuing precisely this with no success, therefore sometimos civil disobedience is the only way left… and a good signal that shows us that the way is broken and dangerous. I commit you to ask those questions up in front and let us all know the answer. I’m afraid I can imagine it. Don’t you?
On the other hand you are only supposing that what he pursued was only for he’s only advantage. Well you are free to think so, but knowing Aaron and his committment with ethical behaviours and the personal risks he has taken, and ethics does not have to have a relationship with obeying the law, does suggest that he was really working to help you and mankind in general. Agains, only a supposition worth taking into account.

By: jkendall Wed, 20 Jul 2011 20:56:29 +0000 Swartz might have served everyone better, including himself, if he had asked those questions up front and tried to get them addressed, and maybe even solved, in a cooperative and open public manner. He seemed capable of leading an effort on this.

If the charges are factual, Swartz decided that his own agenda was worth breaking the law for — that and causing big problems for other users of the shared resources he wanted for his own purposes. It is claimed that he didn’t intend to redistribute the data. If so, his ends were to find information out only for himself or glean and present what he wanted, giving others what he judged they needed. So he put his own investigative goals and his status as a knowledge seeker as more important than that of others. If he really needed access to the data, there are legal methods to get it. Maybe he could have to put that creative mind to work to do it instead of resorting to criminal methods. He got caught knowingly breaking the law for his own self-justified ends instead of trying to pursue legal means, which perhaps would have required him to exercise patience and perseverance for his data binge. Taking precipitous shortcuts one can wind up falling. He took his chances and now he’ll have to face whatever consequences he was incurring yet trying to avoid from our legal system.