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Author Topic: Open Source programmer dude who tried to release JSTOR journal articles arrested  (Read 2162 times)
em3rgentOrdr
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July 23, 2011, 08:06:17 PM
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from http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Aaron_Swartz_arrested_and_charged_for_downloading_JSTOR_articles

Quote from: WikiNews
Aaron Swartz, a fellow at Harvard University's Center for Ethics and an open source programmer involved with creating the RSS 1.0 specification and more generally in the open culture movement, has been arrested and charged with wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer after he entered a computer lab at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts and downloaded two-thirds of the material on JSTOR, an academic journal repository.

According to the indictment, Swartz is accused of sneaking a laptop into MIT, hooking it up as a guest on the MIT network, and then running a script to download files from JSTOR. After being caught, Swartz returned the hard drive containing the downloaded documents to JSTOR who intend not to pursue civil litigation against him, but he has been indicted by the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. He has been bailed on a $100,000 unsecured bond after pleading not guilty to all charges.

Swartz had previously downloaded around 20% of the U.S. Government's PACER database of court decisions, prompting the FBI to investigate his actions. In 2006, Swartz ran for the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees and also wrote an influential essay on "Who Writes Wikipedia?".

Following Swartz's indictment, Greg Maxwell, a contributor to Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, has published a torrent on The Pirate Bay containing 33Gb of papers from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society that were published before 1923 and are thus public domain in the United States, but previously only available at a cost from JSTOR.

"We will not find a solution to political problems in cryptography, but we can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years.

Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks, but pure P2P networks are holding their own."
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July 24, 2011, 01:07:38 AM
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Following Swartz's indictment, Greg Maxwell, a contributor to Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, has published a torrent on The Pirate Bay containing 33Gb of papers from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society that were published before 1923 and are thus public domain in the United States, but previously only available at a cost from JSTOR.
Damn straight. What a legend. I just looked that up and found the torrent: http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/6554331

I first heard about this the other day, but I did not know the list of charges was so extensive. I can't understand humanity. We incriminate our smartest people because of financial interests, it disgusts me. Especially when the so called "criminal" was simply trying to make a bulk of knowledge freely available.

We have lost sight of what the law should really be used for. It should be used to stop sinister, unethical, and just plain wrong behavior. Now you may claim it's hard to define what right and wrong really are, but I think we can all agree imprisoning a man for trying to better humanity can't be in the good spectrum.

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July 24, 2011, 01:34:50 AM
 #3

indio007
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July 24, 2011, 04:45:13 AM
 #4

Read Me from the torrent...


Quote
-----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 scientific
journal with a history extending back to the 1600s.

The portion of the collection included in this archive, ones published
prior to 1923 and therefore obviously in the public domain, total some
18,592 papers and 33 gigabytes of data.

The documents are part of the shared heritage of all mankind,
and are rightfully in the public domain, but they are not available
freely. Instead the articles are available at $19 each--for one month's
viewing, by one person, on one computer. It's a steal. From you.

When I received these documents I had grand plans of uploading them to
Wikipedia's sister site for reference works, Wikisource— where they
could be tightly interlinked with Wikipedia, providing interesting
historical context to the encyclopedia articles. For example, Uranus
was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel; why not take a look at
the paper where he originally disclosed his discovery? (Or one of the
several follow on publications about its satellites, or the dozens of
other papers he authored?)

But I soon found the reality of the situation to be less than appealing:
publishing the documents freely was likely to bring frivolous litigation
from the publishers.

As in many other cases, I could expect them to claim that their slavish
reproduction—scanning the documents— created a new copyright
interest. Or that distributing the documents complete with the trivial
watermarks they added constituted unlawful copying of that mark. They
might even pursue strawman criminal charges claiming that whoever obtained
the files must have violated some kind of anti-hacking laws.

In my discreet inquiry, I was unable to find anyone willing to cover
the potentially unbounded legal costs I risked, even though the only
unlawful action here is the fraudulent misuse of copyright by JSTOR and
the Royal Society to withhold access from the public to that which is
legally and morally everyone's property.

In the meantime, and to great fanfare as part of their 350th anniversary,
the RSOL opened up "free" access to their historic archives—but "free"
only meant "with many odious terms", and access was limited to about
100 articles.

All too often journals, galleries, and museums are becoming not
disseminators of knowledge—as their lofty mission statements
suggest—but censors of knowledge, because censoring is the one thing
they do better than the Internet does. Stewardship and curation are
valuable functions, but their value is negative when there is only one
steward and one curator, whose judgment reigns supreme as the final word
on what everyone else sees and knows. If their recommendations have value
they can be heeded without the coercive abuse of copyright to silence
competition.

The liberal dissemination of knowledge is essential to scientific
inquiry. More than in any other area, the application of restrictive
copyright is inappropriate for academic works: there is no sticky question
of how to pay authors or reviewers, as the publishers are already not
paying them. And unlike 'mere' works of entertainment, liberal access
to scientific work impacts the well-being of all mankind. Our continued
survival may even depend on it.

If I can remove even one dollar of ill-gained income from a poisonous
industry which acts to suppress scientific and historic understanding,
then whatever personal cost I suffer will be justified—it will be one
less dollar spent in the war against knowledge. One less dollar spent
lobbying for laws that make downloading too many scientific papers
a crime.

I had considered releasing this collection anonymously, but others pointed
out that the obviously overzealous prosecutors of Aaron Swartz would
probably accuse him of it and add it to their growing list of ridiculous
charges. This didn't sit well with my conscience, and I generally believe
that anything worth doing is worth attaching your name to.

I'm interested in hearing about any enjoyable discoveries or even useful
applications which come of this archive.

- ----
Greg Maxwell - July 20th 2011
gmaxwell@gmail.com  Bitcoin: 14csFEJHk3SYbkBmajyJ3ktpsd2TmwDEBb

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Version: GnuPG v1.4.11 (GNU/Linux)

iEYEARECAAYFAk4nlfwACgkQrIWTYrBBO/pK4QCfV/voN6IdZRU36Vy3xAedUMfz
rJcAoNF4/QTdxYscvF2nklJdMzXFDwtF
=YlVR
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
em3rgentOrdr
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July 24, 2011, 01:35:20 PM
 #5

Thanks for posting the readme for those of us who are to afraid of self incriminating ourselves by getting our ip logged when downloading the illegal torrent.

Yup, the cat is definatelg out of the bag.  In fact, the cat has actually left the room that the bag was in.  The cat has since decided to never enter bags again, for whatever pretense or reason.  Cat + bag do not mix.

"We will not find a solution to political problems in cryptography, but we can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years.

Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks, but pure P2P networks are holding their own."
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July 24, 2011, 08:15:02 PM
 #6

^^oh snap, didn't even think about that.

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July 24, 2011, 09:48:54 PM
 #7

Notice Greg Maxwell's Bitcoin donation address at the end of the README file? This Bitcoin thing sure is catching on.
indio007
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July 24, 2011, 10:06:32 PM
 #8

Notice Greg Maxwell's Bitcoin donation address at the end of the README file? This Bitcoin thing sure is catching on.

That's why i posted the read me Cheesy

He probably needs funds for legal defense.

 
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July 24, 2011, 10:32:06 PM
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Quote
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.

It's a shame how many people buy into this absurd notion.
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July 25, 2011, 02:25:22 AM
 #10

Quote
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.

It's a shame how many people buy into this absurd notion.

+1

The is no such thing as copyright at common law , it's a creation of statute.



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July 26, 2011, 07:52:12 AM
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Quote
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.

It's a shame how many people buy into this absurd notion.
Indeed. But it sounds plausible enough and soothing enough that people who haven't thought about it deeply will buy into it.
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July 26, 2011, 07:56:40 AM
 #12

Thanks for posting the readme for those of us who are to afraid of self incriminating ourselves by getting our ip logged when downloading the illegal torrent. (Emphasis added.)
How do you figure? All the works in the torrent are in the public domain. At least in the United States, no other doctrine (except things like child pornography laws which obviously don't apply) prohibit the distribution of information to parties not bound by any non-disclosure agreement.

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indio007
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July 26, 2011, 04:17:22 PM
 #13

What really ticks me off about this JSTOR thing is this.

Anyone can get remote online JSTOR access with a library card from the Boston Public Library.
The card is available to anyone. You don't need to be a Massachusetts resident.
Charges against this guy are beyond silly.
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July 26, 2011, 04:59:52 PM
 #14

It may be me, but as far as I know Aaron Swartz =/= Greg Maxwell? I thought that this release was not done by the person who got arrested?

Or am I wrong here?

EDIT: Source: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/07/swartz-supporter-dumps-18592-jstor-docs-on-the-pirate-bay.ars

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em3rgentOrdr
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July 26, 2011, 06:50:43 PM
 #15

Thanks for posting the readme for those of us who are to afraid of self incriminating ourselves by getting our ip logged when downloading the illegal torrent. (Emphasis added.)
How do you figure? All the works in the torrent are in the public domain. At least in the United States, no other doctrine (except things like child pornography laws which obviously don't apply) prohibit the distribution of information to parties not bound by any non-disclosure agreement.

I was partially writing that just for the lolz, but I admittably don't know all the intricanncies and particularities of copyright law.

"We will not find a solution to political problems in cryptography, but we can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years.

Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks, but pure P2P networks are holding their own."
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July 26, 2011, 09:34:40 PM
 #16

Will have to queue this one up for when my cap rolls over in a few days. Too bad the guy with 2/3 of the database didn't have a chance to release that by torrent as well. I wonder how much space that took up, if it was able to fit on a single laptop hard drive?

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July 27, 2011, 12:20:08 AM
 #17

The story I saw was that Aaron Swartz had to keep returning to the MIT campus to swap out external hard drives. I don't think it fit on a single hard drive. Based on my past use of JSTOR, I would say those millions of articles would take up a few terabytes of space at least. Maybe could be cut down to under a terabyte if you re-encoded them with JBIG2 compression and packed them inside a high-compression rar or 7z file, but it would still probably be one of the largest torrents ever if the whole collection was released in one torrent.
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July 27, 2011, 12:37:22 AM
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The story I saw was that Aaron Swartz had to keep returning to the MIT campus to swap out external hard drives. I don't think it fit on a single hard drive. Based on my past use of JSTOR, I would say those millions of articles would take up a few terabytes of space at least. Maybe could be cut down to under a terabyte if you re-encoded them with JBIG2 compression and packed them inside a high-compression rar or 7z file, but it would still probably be one of the largest torrents ever if the whole collection was released in one torrent.

Just another entry in the stupid criminal database, lol.

"We will not find a solution to political problems in cryptography, but we can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years.

Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks, but pure P2P networks are holding their own."
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July 27, 2011, 12:27:12 PM
 #19

Fascism has reared it's ugly head once again.  Cry

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July 27, 2011, 09:19:21 PM
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It seems like what's needed is a distributed effort to gradually download articles in ways that don't look as suspicious from the server end. All kinds of people have access to this stuff though school, right?

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