-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----Hash: SHA1 This archive contains 18,592 scientific publications totaling33GiB, all from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Societyand which should be available to everyone at no cost, but mosthave previously only been made available at high prices throughpaywall gatekeepers like JSTOR.Limited access to the documents here is typically sold for $19USD per article, though some of the older ones are available ascheaply as $8. Purchasing access to this collection one articleat a time would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.Also included is the basic factual metadata allowing you tolocate works by title, author, or publication date, and achecksum file to allow you to check for corruption.ef8c02959e947d7f4e4699f399ade838431692d972661f145b782c2fa3ebcc6a sha256sum.txtI've had these files for a long time, but I've been afraid that if Ipublished them I would be subject to unjust legal harassment by those whoprofit 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 AttorneyGeneral's office for, effectively, downloading too many academic papersfrom JSTOR.Academic publishing is an odd systemΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥the authors are not paid for theirwriting, nor are the peer reviewers (they're just more unpaid academics),and in some fields even the journal editors are unpaid. Sometimes theauthors must even pay the publishers.And yet scientific publications are some of the most outrageouslyexpensive pieces of literature you can buy. In the past, the high accessfees 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 littlesignificant purpose except to perpetuate dead business models. The"publish or perish" pressure in academia gives the authors an impossiblyweak negotiating position, and the existing system has enormous inertia.Those with the most power to change the system--the long-tenured luminaryscholars whose works give legitimacy and prestige to the journals, ratherthan the other way around--are the least impacted by its failures. Theyare supported by institutions who invisibly provide access to all of theresources they need. And as the journals depend on them, they may askfor alterations to the standard contract without risking their career onthe loss of a publication offer. Many don't even realize the extent towhich academic work is inaccessible to the general public, nor do theyrealize what sort of work is being done outside universities that wouldbenefit by it.Large publishers are now able to purchase the political clout neededto abuse the narrow commercial scope of copyright protection, extendingit to completely inapplicable areas: slavish reproductions of historicdocuments and art, for example, and exploiting the labors of unpaidscientists. They're even able to make the taxpayers pay for theirattacks on free society by pursuing criminal prosecution (copyright hasclassically been a civil matter) and by burdening public institutionswith outrageous subscription fees.Copyright is a legal fiction representing a narrow compromise: we giveup some of our natural right to exchange information in exchange forcreating an economic incentive to author, so that we may all enjoy moreworks. When publishers abuse the system to prop up their existence,when they misrepresent the extent of copyright coverage, when they usethreats of frivolous litigation to suppress the dissemination of publiclyowned works, they are stealing from everyone else.Several years ago I came into possession, through rather boring andlawful means, of a large collection of JSTOR documents.These particular documents are the historic back archives of thePhilosophical Transactions of the Royal SocietyΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥a prestigious scientificjournal with a history extending back to the 1600s.The portion of the collection included in this archive, ones publishedprior to 1923 and therefore obviously in the public domain, total some18,592 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 availablefreely. Instead the articles are available at $19 each--for one month'sviewing, by one person, on one computer. It's a steal. From you.When I received these documents I had grand plans of uploading them toWikipedia's sister site for reference works, WikisourceΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥ where theycould be tightly interlinked with Wikipedia, providing interestinghistorical context to the encyclopedia articles. For example, Uranuswas discovered in 1781 by William Herschel; why not take a look atthe paper where he originally disclosed his discovery? (Or one of theseveral follow on publications about its satellites, or the dozens ofother 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 litigationfrom the publishers.As in many other cases, I could expect them to claim that their slavishreproductionΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥scanning the documentsΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥ created a new copyrightinterest. Or that distributing the documents complete with the trivialwatermarks they added constituted unlawful copying of that mark. Theymight even pursue strawman criminal charges claiming that whoever obtainedthe files must have violated some kind of anti-hacking laws.In my discreet inquiry, I was unable to find anyone willing to coverthe potentially unbounded legal costs I risked, even though the onlyunlawful action here is the fraudulent misuse of copyright by JSTOR andthe Royal Society to withhold access from the public to that which islegally 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 archivesΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥but "free"only meant "with many odious terms", and access was limited to about100 articles.All too often journals, galleries, and museums are becoming notdisseminators of knowledgeΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥as their lofty mission statementssuggestΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥but censors of knowledge, because censoring is the one thingthey do better than the Internet does. Stewardship and curation arevaluable functions, but their value is negative when there is only onesteward and one curator, whose judgment reigns supreme as the final wordon what everyone else sees and knows. If their recommendations have valuethey can be heeded without the coercive abuse of copyright to silence competition.The liberal dissemination of knowledge is essential to scientificinquiry. More than in any other area, the application of restrictivecopyright is inappropriate for academic works: there is no sticky questionof how to pay authors or reviewers, as the publishers are already notpaying them. And unlike 'mere' works of entertainment, liberal accessto scientific work impacts the well-being of all mankind. Our continuedsurvival may even depend on it.If I can remove even one dollar of ill-gained income from a poisonousindustry which acts to suppress scientific and historic understanding,then whatever personal cost I suffer will be justifiedΓΓé¼ΓÇ¥it will be oneless dollar spent in the war against knowledge. One less dollar spentlobbying for laws that make downloading too many scientific papersa crime.I had considered releasing this collection anonymously, but others pointedout that the obviously overzealous prosecutors of Aaron Swartz wouldprobably accuse him of it and add it to their growing list of ridiculouscharges. This didn't sit well with my conscience, and I generally believethat anything worth doing is worth attaching your name to.I'm interested in hearing about any enjoyable discoveries or even usefulapplications which come of this archive.- ---- Greg Maxwell - July 20th firstname.lastname@example.org Bitcoin: 14csFEJHk3SYbkBmajyJ3ktpsd2TmwDEBb-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----Version: GnuPG v1.4.11 (GNU/Linux)iEYEARECAAYFAk4nlfwACgkQrIWTYrBBO/pK4QCfV/voN6IdZRU36Vy3xAedUMfzrJcAoNF4/QTdxYscvF2nklJdMzXFDwtF=YlVR-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
It looks as if things are really going to get moving for the scientific community. This is another push for better, free access to scientific papers and journals in the form of 33GiB of papers which should be free. I wholeheartedly agree with everything Mr Maxwell writes, and if you care about the quality of science, so should you!