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Feds Add 9 Felony Charges Against Swartz For JSTOR Hack 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the seeing-what-sticks dept.
Last year Aaron Swartz was indicted on four felony counts for allegedly stealing millions of academic journal articles from JSTOR. Today, Federal prosecutors piled on nine additional felony charges. The charges (PDF) are mostly covered under the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and are likely to test the legislation's limits. According to Wired, "The indictment accuses Swartz of repeatedly spoofing the MAC address — an identifier that is usually static — of his computer after MIT blocked his computer based on that number. The grand jury indictment also notes that Swartz didn't provide a real e-mail address when registering on the network. Swartz also allegedly snuck an Acer laptop bought just for the downloading into a closet at MIT in order to get a persistent connection to the network. Swartz allegedly hid his face from surveillance cameras by holding his bike helmet up to his face and looking through the ventilation holes when going in to swap out an external drive used to store the documents. Swartz also allegedly named his guest account 'Gary Host,' with the nickname 'Ghost.'"
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Feds Add 9 Felony Charges Against Swartz For JSTOR Hack

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am ugly

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:20PM (#41382107) Journal

      We wince when we learn of what Russia is doing to the girl punk band Pussy Riot

      They way Russia heaping charges after ridiculous charges on those 3 girls causes many of us boiling mad, and our main stream media condemn what Russia is doing ... on the other hand ...

      When the American government heap charges after ridiculous charges on a guy - where are the main stream media ?

      The silent treatment from New York Time or Washington Post or Newsweek or Times Magazine is especially deafening.

      The fate of the 3 girls of Pussy Riot is ruined by a dictatorship.

      The fate of a guy in US is equally ruined - but by a so-called "democratically elected government".

      Why the double standards?

      Isn't the personal liberty of a guy in USA as important as the liberty of the 3 girls of Pussy Riot?

      • or even better,

        American Celebrities and their big media handlers rush to support punk rockers locked up in Russia.

        After spending 30+ years trying to crush punk rock in the states in everyway imaginable. Many punk rockers got far worse treatment HERE for FAR LESS than what pussy riot is getting today.

        Jello biafra and the 1986 obscentiy suit anyone?
      • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:35PM (#41382205)

        When the American government heap charges after ridiculous charges on a guy

        Anyone can heap charge after ridiculous charge on someone. The question is what the courts will have to say about it, and thats where the difference between the US and Russia is.

        Youll also note we dont have a "hooliganism" law.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Youll also note we dont have a "hooliganism" law.

          We just call it disorderly conduct.

        • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @09:45PM (#41382667) Journal

          Youll also note we dont have a "hooliganism" law.

          Breaching/Disturbing the Peace is the catchall law that applies to any kind of "hooliganism"
          It came over to America with the colonists and was a common law in England for hundreds of years before that.

        • by Genda (560240) <mariet.got@net> on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @09:59PM (#41382727) Journal

          I don't know where you've been for the last 30 years but folks with social and political axes to grind (on both sides of the aisle) have been stuffing the federal courts like they're going out of style. As the legislature is happily scratching out the "Bill of Rights", the Supreme Court is glad-handing and voting in favor of the very idio... excuse me, social and financial interests who are paying for the surgical elimination of Our Nation's Freedoms as we know them.

          My biggest concern is that this poor clown is caught in a device designed to keep us all under strict control, and he's just a guinea pig for the new IP hamburger making machine. If they can pulverize him with trumped up charges for the kind of stupid college pranks that kids at Caltech have been doing for decades, its fair warning that we should all be very wary of the growing fact that our government is now precisely and almost perfectly in the hip pocket of lesser minds and souls.

          This isn't to say, the young man didn't do something wrong, or that he shouldn't make proper restitution for social impropriety, it is to say, swatting flies with thermonuclear devices seems both extravagant and vindictive. Let the punishment fit the crime. That is, unless this is a larger message, in which case, we get you loud and clear.

        • Youll also note we dont have a "hooliganism" law.

          No. Here if you pull a stunt offending somebody's religion, you get this. [huffingtonpost.com]

        • by alendit (1454311) on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @02:17AM (#41383979)

          With 97% of federal cases ending in plea bargain and again over 90% of the rest being won by the prosecution, you comment strikes me as a bit naive.

          And of cause does the US have a "hooliganism" law, for example in California http://www.shouselaw.com/disturbing-peace.html#overview [shouselaw.com] .

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hairyfeet (841228)

        Uhhh...the girls that went into a store and one of them jammed a chicken up her pussy? Oh and that drew a giant dick...no that would actually be doing SOMETHING, in actuality they stood around while some guy drew a giant dick on a bridge so when it raised the bridge got a hard on..THAT pussy riot?

        Look I think the moron frankly shouldn't have gotten more than a standard B&E and tresspassing but the PR girls are just that...PR whores that tried dumbass stunt after dumbass stunt trying to get anybody to gi

  • I admit I'm not familiar with the case and didn't read more than the summary, but even in an instance where someone breaks into someone else's network shouldn't it still be considered copyright infringement and not stealing when the original owner isn't being deprived of something?
    Forgive my ignorance.
    • In essence, many of the charges stem from Swartz allegedly breaching the terms of service agreement for those using the research service.

      “JSTOR authorizes users to download a limited number of journal articles at a time,” according to the latest indictment. “Before being given access to JSTOR’s digital archive, each user must agree and acknowledge that they cannot download or export content from JSTOR’s computer servers with automated programs such as web robots, spiders, and scrapers. JSTOR also uses computerized measures to prevent users from downloading an unauthorized number of articles using automated techniques.”

      There you have it from TFA.

      • Re:Curious. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon AT gamerslastwill DOT com> on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:56PM (#41381929) Homepage Journal

        Am I the only one who thinks it's a bad idea to allow JSTOR and others to prevent worldwide dissemination of academic knowledge through a paywall?

        Academic knowledge should belong to the world. Hoarding it for the elites is bad for humanity.

        • Re:Curious. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by krsmav (1410223) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:56PM (#41382363)
          The most annoying JSTOR policy is that their site is available only to institutions or scholars associated with institutions. They will not sell a subscription to an ordinary individual. Most libraries have subscriptions, but they don't permit remote access. The only exception I know of is the New York Society Library, which costs $200 per year. http://www.nysoclib.org/index.html [nysoclib.org]
          • by decora (1710862) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @09:34PM (#41382579) Journal

            JSTOR would probably love to give universal access to everyone. they love revenue because it helps them conitnue their mission, expand their collection, hire more researchers and librarians, etc. they dont control the material though. they have to act super nice and kiss a lot of ass to get what they get already. Elsevier, and others, would love to crush JSTOR like a bug.

        • Am I the only one who thinks it's a bad idea to allow JSTOR and others to prevent worldwide dissemination of academic knowledge through a paywall?

          No. Apparently, Swartz does too.

        • by decora (1710862) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @09:31PM (#41382561) Journal

          please read the JSTOR book, there is the whole history of how they started their operation and what and how it works.

          essentially they were google books before google books. they were the first. and they are a Non-Profit entity.

          the problems they ran into were massive - old paper collections of journals are riddled with missing issues, damaged pages, scribbled notes, misprints, etc. they actually had to create their own paper-library where they store 'canonical' versions of the old journals, which scholars pore over, page by page, before being allowed into the collection.

          then they send the paper to the Dominican Republic or other low cost labor nations to get it scanned. Then they go and review the scans to make sure they are accurate.

          they dont 'prevent worldwide dissemination', they actually provide it. they give a sliding scale of subscription prices to libraries around the world, including lower prices for developing countries (maybe even free, i cant remember). there are literally millions of people who could never access this stuff if not for JSTOR.

          the problem is that they have to deal with copyright law responsibly or the publishers will crush them out of existence. they are not google, they cant just rely on the DMCA to get them out of hot water. Remember these guys started in the 90s, before Google was even really a company. They were around in the time of mp3.com --- when a single threat of a lawsuit could wipe out an entire community and valuable web resource for doing stuff that was perfectly legal. IIRC there wasn't even really a DMCA infrastructure working back then. They have to do everything 'by the book'. They cannot, for example, just pull a google and "scan first ask questions later". They would never have existed in the first place if they had that philosophy.

          Now you can argue, why arent our taxpayer funded institutions providing free access to this for everyone? Good question. Why should you have to go into a library to use JSTOR? Well, it's not really up to JSTOR, it's up to the copyright holders and the US legal system. So instead of shitting all over JSTOR, please go shit all over Elsevier and the rest of the corrupted, conflicted academic publishing world.

          JSTOR are relatively good guys. They are not the ones suing this kid, the Attorney General is.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @10:34PM (#41382905)

            They were acquired by a "new york city non-profit" (e.g. a social club/tax shelter more than a charity) some time back and they're now run by some ex-football player. All of their top staff takes home enormous pay (E.g. >500k/yr). It's disingenuous to call it a charity, though it technically is.

      • Re:Curious. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Cyberllama (113628) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @09:31PM (#41382557)

        I've used JSTOR and I never agreed to any TOS. More than likely, the University in question did that as they are the actual "customer".

        I frankly find it hard to believe that spoofing a MAC address to keep from being banned from a network rises to the level of "hacking". The guy already has trespassing charges for being in the building, and that seems like the most appropriate crime to charge him with. Everything else is just piling on bullshit because "We didn't have a law that fit this guy, so we're gonna throw everything we can think of at him because we think he should go to jail."

        For the record, all the articles he "stole" are public domain. JSTOR asserts copyright because it was their scan, even though the articles themselves belong to the public now. The problem is, that there's currently no way to access a lot of this older public domain stuff except by going through JSTOR.

        • by Raenex (947668)

          I frankly find it hard to believe that spoofing a MAC address to keep from being banned from a network rises to the level of "hacking".

          From 1030(a)(4) [cornell.edu]: "knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization, or exceeds authorized access [..]".

          For the record, all the articles he "stole" are public domain.

          Do you have a source that every article was public domain? Not everything in JSTOR is.

    • He supplied incorrect details to the system, therefore there is wire fraud.
      There may just be plain fraud of impersonating someone to create the account in the first place.
      He deprived the owner of bandwidth to the server. (true not much and they weren't using it anyway) Denial of Service.

      • by chaboud (231590)

        So.... Your handle is wire fraud?

        I think that there is a clear civil case here, but I have a hard time buying into the criminal aspects of the case.

        • Imagine, if you will, that the information was not academic papers, but banking details. Extrapolate.

          • by msauve (701917)
            Some bank didn't do due diligence, and encrypt their account information? Is that your point?
          • Imagine a teenager clicking "I AM 18" on a porn site. Every pubescent male minor in the country has done that. Is that 'wire fraud' too?
      • by wisty (1335733)

        Is it fraud? If you claim to be someone else while while robbing a bank, it's fraud. If you wear a Mickey Mouse mask while robbing a bank, it's not.

        He didn't provide an materially fake details, he just covered his trail. Using "Gary Host" instead of his own name didn't make his "crime" any easier. Spoofing a MAC address got him off a blacklist, so it might be material, but it's really at the margins.

  • by dgharmon (2564621) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:18PM (#41381613) Homepage
    Spoofing a MAC address is not illegal ..
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It is if you're doing it to gain access to a computer that otherwise doesn't want you accessing it.

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        It is if you're doing it to gain access to a computer that otherwise doesn't want you accessing it.

        So the takeaway seems to be this: Set up a script to regularly randomize your MAC for the hell of it. Make it a standard practice on all your computers. If it's against the rules to do it with intent to defraud, do it now, before you have the intent.

        • On a network that has a moderate degree of security, thats sufficient to trigger IDS and block your network access. Its not exactly difficult for networking gear to notice that one port is cycling through MACs, and cut you off.

          • by Bob9113 (14996)

            On a network that has a moderate degree of security, thats sufficient to trigger IDS and block your network access. Its not exactly difficult for networking gear to notice that one port is cycling through MACs, and cut you off.

            Oh, come on, now, you can think of a solution to that. I bet you can think of half a dozen ways to satisfy the spirit of what I was saying without triggering that problem.

            Here, I'll give you one: Run the script on boot.

            • by Bob9113 (14996)

              Geez -- I better clarify, eh? OK: Run the script on boot assuming it's a laptop. So you take your laptop to the lab, plug it in to whatever port is available, fire it up, it resets its MAC, and away you go. Each time you reboot, you get a new MAC. That's a fresh MAC daily, at least, with no intent to defraud. (remember -- the intent comes later)

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          You mean just in case some other computer system attempts to deny you access to the system based on the mac address right? I'm not sure intent is completely divorced from the action unless you can find another legitimate reason for doing so.

          It's like having a crow bar with you and claiming it wasn't a criminal tool used to break into a house they are accusing you of breaking into with the crowbar because you always have one around.

      • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:04PM (#41381987)

        So it may demonstrate intent to access a system without authorization. But by itself, why is it illegal?

        to gain access to a computer that otherwise doesn't want you accessing it.

        The computer doesn't want? Don't anthropomorphize computers. They hate that.

      • Off topic, but one wonders why they werent using port-security if they intended to filter by MAC. Guy changes MAC a few times, boom-- switchport shuts down. Bonus: Now the head of IT knows youre spoofing MACs, and what switchport youre on.

      • It is if you're doing it to gain access to a computer that otherwise doesn't want you accessing it.

        By that logic purchasing a brand new PC is just as bad.

    • by suso (153703) *

      It is if you also don't provide a real e-mail address, so....

      • by jamstar7 (694492)

        It is if you also don't provide a real e-mail address, so....

        I take it a Yahoo email isn't a real email address? Or a Gmail account?

        I've got 4 different Yahoo email accounts, each for seperate things. Which one is my 'real' email address? I also have two Gmail accounts, one for personal, one for work. I also have access to 3 other Gmail accounts for work. Which is the real one?

  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fish waffle (179067) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:20PM (#41381619)

    "The indictment accuses Swartz of repeatedly spoofing the MAC address — an identifier that is usually static — of his computer after MIT blocked his computer based on that number.

    Right, and...? Is a MAC address some sort of protected id? Everyone knows that MAC filtering is ineffective, and MAC altering is enabled by hardware.

    Swartz didn't provide a real e-mail address when registering on the network.

    Uh oh, I'm in trouble.

    Swartz allegedly hid his face from surveillance cameras by holding his bike helmet up to his face and looking through the ventilation holes when going in to swap out an external drive used to store the documents.

    Again, so what? Is it some requirement that we display ourselves clearly to all security cameras?

    Swartz also allegedly named his guest account 'Gary Host,' with the nickname 'Ghost.'"

    Well, that is scary. Prosecute away then.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Interestingly enough, I didn't see any of these things listed as crimes on the actual indictment. That used words more like "Unlawfully Obtaining Information from a Protected Computer" and "Wire Fraud".

      • you are 100% correct. indictments like this are full of horse shit and red herrings that are completely irrelevant to the case. it makes you wonder sometimes if prosecutors even know the law they are trying to uphold.

        you would hope for more Joe Friday "just the facts" types doing these cases, but we seem to be perpetually stuck with DAs who analyze media strategy and decide to gussy up their indictments with irrelevant bullshit.

        • by russotto (537200)

          you are 100% correct. indictments like this are full of horse shit and red herrings that are completely irrelevant to the case. it makes you wonder sometimes if prosecutors even know the law they are trying to uphold.

          They don't care. It's a shotgun indictment; they fire as many charges at him as they can, figuring at least one will hit.

          This has the stink of the Craig Neidorf case where Neidorf was accused of stealing a super-secret operation manual worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and capable of givi

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khallow (566160) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:44PM (#41381829)
      Such things can be used as evidence that not only did Swatz break the law, but that he did so intentionally. Also the first two bits, the changing of the MAC address and providing a false email address might become supporting evidence for the argument asserting wire fraud.

      Propaganda-wise, this is a easy demonstration that he was acting pretty shifty. That might get the prosecutor some mileage in the courtroom.
      • by Type44Q (1233630)

        Such things can be used as evidence that not only did Swatz break the law...

        Can be, sure. Should be? Fish Waffle above (mmm, fishy waffles) sums it up succinctly, IMHO.

        • by khallow (566160)

          Can be, sure. Should be?

          Absolutely. Such behaviors illuminate the motivations and thought processes of the alleged perpetrator. By themselves, without a criminal act, they could just mean he's somewhat crazy/eccentric, which is not illegal, obviously. But together with more solid evidence, they can show not just that he was in certain places at certain times, but that he was trying to avoid getting caught. In other words, it indicates that he knew what he was doing was illegal. That right there is the moral justification for this

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:49PM (#41381869)
      He lied in order to access a system he might not have been able to access if he didn't lie. That's the crime. They are making lying illegal, so long as the lying is against people with sufficient money to make an issue of it.
    • Everyone knows that MAC filtering is ineffective,

      Not if you do it by whitelist, and your network is set up properly. Wrong MAC address? The switch ignores all of your datagrams (including arp requests). MAC address is changing rapidly? Shut the port down and throw a warning.

      Its primarily ineffective with Wifi, because IIRC you can see everyone else's MAC, and you can make a reasonable guess about who is authenticated against which SSID. The WAP doesnt control what data you can see, whereas with a wired connection the switch does (thats the entire poi

    • Exactly, I didn't realize that typing the command
      ifconfig en1 ether 00:e2:e3:e4:e5:e6
      was illegal.
      • by whoever57 (658626)

        ifconfig en1 ether 00:e2:e3:e4:e5:e6

        Much too hard. Why decide that the new MAC address is? Instead:
        macchanger --random eth0

  • I think this is more an indictment of the current method that we use for disturbing academic journals than anything else.

    Feel free to point out if I'm wrong though I'm not super familiar with the specifics of this case, but to me it just highlights a bigger problem.

    • JSTOR essentially has to beg and lick-butt of the academic publishing monopolies in order to get away with what it does.

      the world of academic journals is sort of like the world of music if Google and iTunes had never existed... stuck back in the 1990s where an ignorant and ossified monopoly makes all the decisions.

      big difference is almost nobody is going to put academic journals on Pirate Bay because theyd rather watch porn and play video games.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:26PM (#41381665) Journal

    Federal prosecutors are some sick bastards. The worst of the worst. This is clearly intended to dissuade Swartz from exercising his constiutional right to a trial. Throw every charge at him in order to scare him into accepting a plea bargain. This is why 97% of federal cases end in plea bargains. Not because prosecutors are right 97% of the time, but because they are the biggest bullies in the country.

    We'd all be safer if those who have charged Swartz were behind bars themselves.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:49PM (#41381857) Journal

      Mod me down if you want, but that doesn't change the fact that Swartz would have been better off if the Mafia had broken both his kneecaps, or left him dead in a ditch, rather than facing decades in federal PMITA prison where he will emerge an old, broken man, if at all. Is this really what you call justice?

    • by chaboud (231590) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:02PM (#41381973) Homepage Journal

      And this is why, when prosecutors have clearly dog-piled unreasonable charges in an effort to force a plea, judges should reflexively dismiss cases with prejudice. At this point, there's no harm in trying.

      Hell, prosecutors who bully with untenable charges should be held in contempt. This is up to judges. It is their responsibility to maintain fairness. Perhaps we should start appointing/electing judges who didn't go to the same law schools and work in the same firms as the attorneys they interact with. Perhaps we should stop appointing/electing lawyers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by zerro (1820876)
        Can be hard to do when Judge and DA are golfing buddies. Just sayin'
      • by gnujoshua (540710)

        Well, it can't be dismissed so easily, because they got the indictment through a federal grand jury. So, there was a whole other layer of bullshit tactics by the prosecution. I was subpoened for evidence and to testify before the USA vs Swartz grand jury. It was absolute bullshit.

  • This feels like over reaching on the prosecutor's part. Maybe to force a plea.

    I thought it would be hard to screw up a case like the Casey Anthony trial but Prosecutors looking to make a reputation can surprise you by going to trial and not making a deal.

    I understand his position on open data but it was the absolute wrong way to go about it.

    • by ArchieBunker (132337) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:32PM (#41381719) Homepage

      Its a win for the prosecutor's record and saves the time of a jury trial. If Everyone charged with a crime opted for a jury the courts would be back logged for decades.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        No, they'd be backlogged for 180 days, when everyone would be set free for not getting their right to a speedy trial satisfied.
      • by citizenr (871508)

        Its a win for the prosecutor's record and saves the time of a jury trial. If Everyone charged with a crime opted for a jury the courts would be back logged for decades.

        yeah, cant have justice for all, only for those who can afford it

  • by Gim Tom (716904) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:49PM (#41381859)
    Isn't it about time for Juries to use their power of Jury Nullification? Jury members can vote their conscience no matter what the law, the prosecutor or even the Judge says. Unfortunately most are told otherwise.
    • by macraig (621737)

      You've haven't served on many criminal juries, have you? Jury nullification doesn't even get out of the gate when a judge deliberately stacks the jury box by making jury candidates explicitly agree not to thwart any applicable rules of law. Think I'm kidding? I've been in such a courtroom. It was a murder case with two defendants, which meant that the prosecutor intended to leverage the sickening so-called "felony murder rule", and the judge was ready to support him doing it. He did this by doing exact

  • Does anybody know what he gained or expected to gain by doing this?

  • "Federal prosecutors piled on nine additional felony charges."

    Guess those article authors didn't wanna share them.

    Free content will never get protection from all the paid content will it?
  • by CockMonster (886033) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:23PM (#41382125)
    Here's the reason given in the archive for the theft/release: -----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 cheaply as $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 scien
    • 1. professors dont have power. at most universities, professors have become part-time hired hands with no health insurance, as the 'adjuncts' rapidly grow to dwarf the size of actual professors. tenure is a figment of the past, publish or perish, and on and on and on.

      2. the 'slavish reproductions' take a lot of librarians, scholars, and workers a very long time to collect and scan, because paper archives are incomplete, damaged, full of misprints, etc etc etc. read the JSTOR book and you will understand wha

    • by tqk (413719)

      Here's the reason given in the archive for the theft/release ...

      Thanks for that. It's a great read.

      Academia deserves a huge slap on the back of the head for allowing this charade to go on. Higher education and scientific research ... You'd think those would be the last areas saddled with BS like this.

      Let's see, rich gatekeeper publishers lording it over public domain documents - check, academic reviewers working for free - check, copyright and Imaginary Property - check, taxpayer funded research paywalled - check, the US DoJ going Medieval over a civil matter - check

    • by Genda (560240)

      This is what it looks like to face your personal integrity. Not sappy, jingoistic morality, but a clear line of demarcation, a line in the sand over which you will not cross as a matter of your word. Simple, yes? Easy, not so much. I applaud your dignity. Bravo. Its time to create an open source project around publishing scientific works. It should be manned by scientists, for scientists, and available at little or no cost to scientists, and at a vanishingly small price to the general public to support the

  • That this case is about some pimply faced student hacking a computer, you are sniffing not only up the wrong tree, but you are completely in the wrong forest. This is an IP case. This a test of the machinery designed to ensure that users of other people's contents pay their pound of flesh, assume the appropriate positions, and take their beatings as prescribed by law. All others will be prosecuted to THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW... and I hope Y'all are getting a good look at what the means, precisely.

It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground. -- Daniel B. Luten

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