Aaron Swartz and the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto

03/02/2013


Aaron Swartz before they killed him… Look, he’s smiling

Don’t you know who Aaron Swartz was? Shame on you! Go read about this modern-age hero now!! Aaron Swartz believed in free access to publibly-funded science and other documents. He helped fight SOPA. And now he’s dead.

He wrote “The Guerilla Open Access Manifesto” which clearly outlines why it’s wrong to commodify knowledge. Rather than give you a link, I decided to reprint the Manifesto here.

Guerilla Open Access Manifesto

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.

“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they
make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal —
there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s
already being done: we can fight back.

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been
given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world
is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for
yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords
with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.

Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been
sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by
the publishers and sharing them with your friends.

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or
piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a
ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only
those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate
require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they
have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who
can make copies.

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the
grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public
culture.

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with
the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need
to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific
journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open
Access.

With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the
privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?

Aaron Swartz

July 2008, Eremo, Italy

The name Aaron Swartz should never be forgotten. Neither should the date 11 January 2013, the day he died. We should remember Aaron Swartz every day, by following his manifesto. Copy and distribute documents and other material as part of a global struggle against those who would keep us down and teach us our “station in life”.

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18 January – Internet Freedom Day!! Hip Hip Hooray!!

18/01/2013

I got an email today from the nice people at Fight for the Future, reminding me that a year ago today, “you, me, and 24 million people defeated SOPA and Internet censorship. It was the largest online protest ever.” SOPA was the Stop Online Piracy Act, a proposed US law that would have impacted horribly on all our freedoms online. But it was stomped, one year ago today, and now many people are calling for 18 January to be known as Internet Freedom Day.

The email suggested one way we can celebrate Internet Freedom Day:

How is Fight for the Future participating? Since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is coming up, we’re reminded that Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is copyrighted, and often censored on sites like Youtube. We realized that watching and sharing this speech (which could be considered illegal) to celebrate Dr. King’s work and the freedom we fought for is exactly what needs to happen.

To honor Dr. King’s legacy of nonviolent civil disobedience and to celebrate our historic defeat of SOPA, we made this video that contains the entire 17 minute speech.

Join us in a small act of civil disobedience to remember what we fight for. Watch and share this video.

If SOPA had passed, you could have gone to jail for sharing a video of it, and entire websites could have been shut down for linking to it.

But even more than that, there’s a bigger question: Are you okay with a world where when someone just learning about race and civil rights goes to the web to see MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech and is confronted with a notice that says “this video has been removed”? It isn’t until 2038, when the copyright on this speech is over, that you’re even allowed to share this video.

If you haven’t done so already, send this video to a friend, tweet it, talk to your friends about it, and celebrate MLK’s work and our ability to fight back online censorship that can keep the things we love and need from us.

Nice sentiment. And if you click that link to see the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech, you will see that there’s still a lot to fight for.

The email also said:

Last, but not least, our friend and Center for Rights board member, Marvin Ammori, just wrote a book called On Internet Freedom that you can download *for free* today. He describes it as “a sort of love song to the First Amendment and the Internet.” (You can download the Kindle app for free to read on your computer, phone, or anything else, and we think he’d approve if you removed the DRM to read it on other devices.)

But anyway: 18 January as Internet Freedom Day? Hell yeah, I’m up for it.

Let’s try and make sure the Internet is, and remains, Free.

HAPPY INTERNET FREEDOM DAY!!!

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SOPA and PIPA down but not out. Watch this space…

21/01/2012

The Wikipedia-led “black Wednesday” seems to have done some good. SOPA and PIPA votes have been postponeded, seemingly because of the onine action. Senate majority leader Harry Reid said: “The decision to postpone the votes was made in light of “recent events,” – taken to be a reference to Wednesday’s day of action.

But remember, the votes have been postponed, not cancelled. The issue is bound to resurface at some point, probably while the world’s attention has been drawn elsewhere by a tsunami or something. So Watch This Space – and other spaces too, I’m not exactly the most regular of correspondents. SOPA and PIPA are hurt but not dead. We gotta be ready to administer the coup de grace.


Wednesday 18 January 2012… The Day The (Online) World Stood Still

19/01/2012

Thursday, 19 Jan 2012

Well, what a to-do “Blackout Wednesday” caused! A world of students couldn’t do their homework because Wikipedia went offline (Does serve em right though…students should not be using Wikipedia as the basis of their online research/plagiarism. Google and Bing were still working, as were most other websites; and in a worst-case scenario they could still haul ass to the local library and, you know, look at an actual book!. In fact, all sorts of stuff happened (or didn’t happen) during Black-out Wednesday – far too much for me to catalogue here – so here’s a link to a Guardian webpage that handily links on to lots of news and comment on the momentous day and its meanings and effects.

I’m not an American, and, like most people (including Americans FFS!), I don’t know much about the proposed SOPA and PIPA laws. But I do know this: SOPA/PIPA will enable intellectual property owners (mostly media, movie and music corporations) to block access to any websites the corporations claim are infringing their intellectual property rights – without any judicial or statuary oversight. And Americans won’t be the only victims of this censorship. As a lot of the internet’s infrastructure goes through the USA or US-related systems, online users everywhere will be affected. SOPA/PIPA isn’t just an American problem: its tendrils reach out everywhere. So come on, American action heroes – it’s time for you to save the world again!

I already said I’m not a PIPA/SOPA expert. But these guys are. So click that link (here it is again), find out what SOPA and PIPA would actually mean to your life, and learn what you can do to stop it. There’s some pretty simple action you can do to help, without even leaving your seat – but, because PIPA and SOPA are US legal proposals, only Americans can do them. So go on, USA, do the right thing – cos if you don’t, it might end up that no one anywhere will be able to do their homework from the comfort of their basement!!! :p

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SOPA Hearings postponed til next year… Good news?

21/12/2011

SOPA (the “Stop Online Piracy Act” [sic]) was due to be given a hearing in the the US House of Representatives last week. But fortunately it’s been put back to 2012, giving the opposition to SOPA longer to rally their defences.

SOPA proponents like to stress how SOPA would keep starving TV and movie producers from having to beg for soup in the street. But other commentators reject this spurious notion, focusing instead on the fact that the proposed laws would make it all too easy for the “big dogs” of the movie/music/games industries to force “innocent until proven guilty” websites to close down just because someone makes a complaint.

SOPA fans see the proposed legislation as necessary to keep the entertainment industries alive and kicking (as if…). There’s a list of SOPA supporters available (pdf); but if you don’t want to download the pf (why in hell would you?) I’ve reproduced the list here:

60 Plus Association
ABC
Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP)
American Federation of Musicians (AFM)
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
Americans for Tax Reform
Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States
Association of American Publishers (AAP)
Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies
Association of Talent Agents (ATA)
Baker & Hostetler LLP
Beachbody, LLC
BMI
BMG Chrysalis
Building and Construction Trades Department
Capitol Records Nashville
CBS
Cengage Learning
Christian Music Trade Association
Church Music Publishers’ Association
Coalition Against Online Video Piracy (CAOVP)
Comcast/NBCUniversal
Concerned Women for America (CWA)
Congressional Fire Services Institute
Copyhype
Copyright Alliance
Coty, Inc.
Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB)
Council of State Governments
Country Music Association
Country Music Television
Covington & Burling LLP
Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP
Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C.
Creative America
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Deluxe
Directors Guild of America (DGA)
Disney Publishing Worldwide, Inc.
Elsevier
EMI Christian Music Group
EMI Music Publishing
ESPN
Estée Lauder Companies
Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)
Go Daddy
Gospel Music Association
Graphic Artists Guild
Hachette Book Group
HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide, Inc.
Hyperion
Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA)
International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE)
International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT)
International Trademark Association (INTA)
International Union of Police Associations
Irell & Manella LLP
Jenner & Block LLP
Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
Kendall Brill & Klieger LLP
Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP
L’Oreal
Lathrop & Gage LLP
Loeb & Loeb LLP
Lost Highway Records
Macmillan
Major County Sheriffs
Major League Baseball
Majority City Chiefs
Marvel Entertainment, LLC
MasterCard Worldwide
MCA Records
McGraw-Hill Education
Mercury Nashville
Minor League Baseball (MiLB)
Minority Media & Telecom Council (MMTC)
Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP
Morrison & Foerster LLP
Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)
Moving Picture Technicians
MPA – The Association of Magazine Media
National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
National Association of Prosecutor Coordinators
National Association of State Chief Information Officers
National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA)
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Crime Justice Association
National District Attorneys Association
National Domestic Preparedness Coalition
National Football League
National Governors Association, Economic Development and Commerce Committee
National League of Cities
National Narcotics Offers’ Associations’ Coalition
National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA)
National Songwriters Association
National Troopers Coalition
News Corporation
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
Pearson Education
Penguin Group (USA), Inc.
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
Phillips Nizer, LLP
Pfizer, Inc.
Proskauer Rose LLP
Provident Music Group
Random House
Raulet Property Partners
Republic Nashville
Revlon
Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP
Scholastic, Inc.
Screen Actors Guild (SAG)
Shearman & Sterling LLP
Showdog Universal Music
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music Nashville
State International Development Organization (SIDO)
The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO)
The Perseus Books Groups
The United States Conference of Mayors
Tiffany & Co.
Time Warner
3
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
UMG Publishing Group Nashville
United States Chamber of Commerce
United States Tennis Association
Universal Music
Universal Music Publishing Group
Viacom
Visa, Inc.
W.W. Norton & Company
Warner Music Group
Warner Music Nashville
White & Case LLP
Wolters Kluewer Health
Word Entertainment

While there are some worthwhile causes included in the list (most of whom were probably lied to about SOPA), it generally sounds like a roll-call of what www.theinquirer.net calls “a Who’s Who of copyright holders and media companies”.

Please don’t be conned into thinking SOPA won’t affect you – it will affect every single user of the internet. Media conglomerates will be able to close down websites on the flimsiest of evidence, and their attack-squadrons of lawyers will make it all-but-impossible for anyone to argue. The corporations really want to own the net, and legislation like SOPA will serve it to them on a silver platter.Google, Facebook, Mozilla – just a few of the computer and tech companies are opposed to SOPA, as they are forward-thinking enough to see that SOPA is really a “democratic” version of the Great Firewall of China – unseen suits deciding what we can or cannot see – or post – on our interet. Do yourself a favour – educate yourself on what SOPA really means (Google Is Your Friend… Bing too), then hassle your legal reps to kill the act before it can become law!

 

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