Following the suicide of RSS/Reddit Co-Founder Aaron Swartz a PDF tribute with links to copyrighted research has been making the rounds.
Before his death Swartz had become an internet activist and was facing up to 35 years in jail and $1 million in fines after he downloaded 4.8 million documents from JSTOR. Swartz then made those documents which included research and academic papers available online for free.
The campaign to share the very same documents originally posted by Swartz has spurred a website that now showcases all of the shared links. The website can be viewed HERE.
The idea to launch the campaign was started by a researcher. Micah Allen, a scientist in the field of brain plasticity, cognitive neuroscience, and cognitive science suggested the campaign on Reddit over the weekend. Micah wrote:
“A fitting tribute to Aaron might be a mass protest uploading of copyright-protected research articles. Dump them on Gdocs, tweet the link. Think of the great blu-ray encoding protest but on a bigger scale for research articles.”
Micah’s idea was soon picked up by, Eva Vivalt and Jessica Richman, friends of Aaron Swartz who saw the value in the campaign.
Five years ago Swartz released his Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto in which he criticized scientific studies for their lack of openness. In his manifesto he wrote:
“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.”
In the meantime JSTOR four days ago announced that for a limited time more than 1,200 journals would be available for limited reading by the public at no cost.
Do you think more scientific studies should be made easily accessible to the general public?
You can find all of the Aaron Swartz links on Twitter via #PDFTribute.