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Aaron Swartz: Guerrilla Open Source Manifesto (2008)

Aaron Swartz, (November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013), was an American computer programmer, writer, archivist, political organizer, and Internet activist.

Swartz was a member of the RSS-DEV Working Group that co-authored the "RSS 1.0" specification of RSS, and built the website framework web.py and the architecture for the Open Library. He also built Infogami, a company that merged with Reddit in its early days, through which he became an equal owner of the merged company. Swartz also focused on sociology, civic awareness and activism. In 2010 he was a member of the Harvard University Center for Ethics. He cofounded the online group Demand Progress (known for its campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act) and later worked with U.S. and international activist groups Rootstrikers and Avaaz.

On January 6, 2011, as a result of a federal investigation, Swartz was arrested in connection with systematic downloading of academic journal articles from JSTOR. Swartz opposed JSTOR's practice of compensating publishers, rather than authors, out of the fees it charges for access to articles. Swartz contended that JSTOR's fees limited access to academic work produced at American colleges and universities.

On the morning of January 11, 2013, Swartz was found dead in his Crown Heights, Brooklyn apartment, where he was found hanged.

The following is an except from Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto, in which Swartz called on "students, librarians, and scientists" who had access to scientific journals that had been completed at public institutions and were instead locked away from the public, to act on their "duty to share" that knowledge with the rest world.

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.

Continue reading the manifesto: http://ia700808.us.archive.org/17/items/GuerillaOpenAccessMa...

Here are a few more links on this story:

http://lessig.tumblr.com/post/40347463044/prosecutor-as-bully

http://mediafreedom.org/2011/07/larry-lessig-responds-says-s...

http://boston.com/metrodesk/2013/01/14/mit-hacking-case-lawy...

http://www.rememberaaronsw.com/