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Release of 33GiB of Scientific Publications 242

Posted by timothy
from the summer-reading dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Wikipedian, Greg Maxwell, has released 33GiB of scientific publications [note: torrent] from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in response to the arrest of Aaron Swartz for, effectively, downloading too many articles from JSTOR. The release consists of 18,592 scientific articles previously released at $8-$19 each and all published prior to 1923 and so public domain."
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Release of 33GiB of Scientific Publications

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  • Biased summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_raptor (652941) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:08PM (#36853090)

    in response to the arrest of Aaron Swartz for, effectively, downloading too many articles from JSTOR

    No, that jackass got arrested for not only hacking MIT systems but physically breaking into equipment cabinets and messing with the hardware. He did this so that he could "effectively download too many articles from JSTOR", but that isn't what he got arrested for.

    I am all for civil disobedience when it is merited, but don't go crying when you get arrested and charged for that disobedience. Especially don't go trying to distort the reasons for your arrest to try and trick people into supporting you. There are so many causes I support where I wouldn't be caught seen with the "activists" pushing them because they do bullshit like this.

    • Re:Biased summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:15PM (#36853138)

      The description and even the Wikipedia page on the issue imply that he simply brought a laptop into MIT and downloaded the data. Actually looking at news articles on the same issue reveal he did a bit more than that:

      "According to the indictment, Swartz connected a laptop to MIT's system in September 2010 through a basement network wiring closet and registered as a guest under the fictitious name, Gary Host, in which the first initial and last name spell "ghost." He then used a software program to "rapidly download at extraordinary volume of articles from JSTOR," according to the indictment.

      In the following months, MIT and JSTOR tried to block the recurring and massive downloads, on occasion denying all MIT users access to JSTOR. But Swartz allegedly got around it, in part, by disguising the computer source of the demands for data.

      In November and December, Swartz allegedly made 2 million downloads from JSTOR, 100 times the number made during the same period by all legitimate JSTOR users at MIT.

      The indictment also alleges that on Jan. 6, Swartz went to the wiring closet to remove the laptop, attempting to shield his identity by holding a bike helmet in front of his face and seeing his way through its ventilation holes. It said that he fled when MIT police tried to question him that day."

      Yyyyeah, I don't think he's being charged simply for downloading too much from JSTOR.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by joocemann (1273720)

        So he downloaded tons of scientific truth, and took extraordinary means to do so.

        There is a saying... "no harm, no foul." The point of the saying being that even though an action may have occurred that is of some infringing nature, if there is no harm, the infringement can be easily forgiven.

        I just want to know why MIT is holding the truth so tightly and only dictating its implications through press release and patented products; the truth should be free.

      • He opened a door, plugged a laptop into a switch and then covered it with a cardboard box. When they blocked his IP, he changed it. Everything he copied from the network is supposedly open domain, and despite the characterization that he downloaded "Massive" amounts of data, it appears that he downloaded a few gigs over a period of months. Moving the same amount of data over my 10yr old home network would take a couple of hours so it's clear he wasn't stressing MITs LAN.
    • Re:Biased summary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Friday July 22, 2011 @07:08PM (#36853528)

      I am all for civil disobedience when it is merited, but don't go crying when you get arrested and charged for that disobedience. Especially don't go trying to distort the reasons for your arrest to try and trick people into supporting you.

      The problem with modern civil disobedience is that they don't hold you overnight and then let you go anymore, or even charge you with a crime for which the penalty is a $500 fine or 30 days in the county jail. They trump up some nonsense charges for which the penalty is 5-10 years or more in Federal PMITA Prison so that you have to spend enough on legal fees to bankrupt anyone who isn't a millionaire, because nobody sane is willing to go pro se against the prospect of that sort of excessive, life-ruining penalty. Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr. were arrested in 1955 for his ("illegal") bus boycotts, and then thrown in prison for the next 10 years. Somehow I doubt the 1963 "I have a dream" speech would have been quite as effective standing on a table in the prison cafeteria in front of a dozen inmates as it was in front of a quarter of a million people at the Lincoln Memorial.

      So today, prospective young men and women who feel that they have no real political representation are presented with a Sophie's choice. If they want to keep their freedom and have any continued hope of creating change through official channels or by shaping public opinion through open discussion, they have to forgo civil disobedience and are deprived of one of the most effective methods to bring about change in the face of a broken political system. (This is, obviously, by design from the perspective of the broken political system.) Or they can break the law as their predecessors did, but then have to rely on anonymity and whatever criminal defense a person can muster against outrageous penalties in order to retain the freedom to continue the fight and continue to violate unreasonable laws until they are repealed.

      Naturally someone will respond that this is a different fight and how dare I compare freedom of information to the civil rights movement etc. But that is just a political perspective -- history is written by the winners. Just because you don't agree with the politics of the accused (whether it be MLK or Julian Assange), that is no excuse to support the suppression of nonviolent political movements through criminal felony prosecutions.

      • Re:Biased summary (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mcvos (645701) on Friday July 22, 2011 @07:40PM (#36853698)

        You've got a good point. I'd prefer civil disobedience to be done openly, but the more oppressive a regime gets, the more the need for secrecy grows.

        Members of the resistance during WW2 weren't open about sheltering Jews either. It wasn't just illegal; it would get them killed.

        • Re:Biased summary (Score:5, Insightful)

          by the_raptor (652941) on Friday July 22, 2011 @08:04PM (#36853820)

          No the more oppressive the regime the MORE resistance needs to be in the open. Oppressive regimes work by making people afraid, especially by making dissidents feel they are alone and isolated. When oppressive regimes fall from internal causes it is nearly always due to people making public stands. The current "Arab spring" is the perfect example of this. Those regimes are only falling because people are marching in the streets and willing to die to see the end of the current regimes.

          • Good points, and please see my other reply in this thread quoting Prof. G. WIlliam Domhoff on "Strategic Nonviolence" and Jame P. Hogan on "Voyage From Yesteryear" which connects to them:
            http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2344152&cid=36853896 [slashdot.org]

            Note also that a willingness to die for a cause is not the same as a willingess to kill for a cause.

            "Quorum Senising" is another aspect of understanding how societies go through sudden phase changes:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quorum [wikipedia.org]

          • Re:Biased summary (Score:5, Insightful)

            by sjames (1099) on Friday July 22, 2011 @08:59PM (#36854066) Homepage

            Open and anonymous need not be separate things. A person flagrantly violating the law and then disappearing before the goon squad can come haul them off to the organ harvester is effective. Same thing but calling out your name and address just makes people think you were suicidal anyway and gets your family killed as well.

          • by Velex (120469)

            Who says the 51% majority doesn't approve of what's being done to the 49% minority?

          • by mcvos (645701)

            No the more oppressive the regime the MORE resistance needs to be in the open. Oppressive regimes work by making people afraid,

            That depends on how oppressive the regime is, and how far its goons are willing to go in doing the dirty work. Extremely oppressive regimes work by making people dead, rather than afraid. Nazis had no problem executing all trouble makers and then some.

            There's a rumour that during the protests in Egypt, the soldiers got the order to shoot at the crowd. They all refused. According to that same rumour, the same order was given in Libya, and there they did shoot. But not all, some deserted. Deciding how public

      • Re:Biased summary (Score:5, Insightful)

        by the_raptor (652941) on Friday July 22, 2011 @07:58PM (#36853800)

        The problem with modern civil disobedience is that they don't hold you overnight and then let you go anymore, or even charge you with a crime for which the penalty is a $500 fine or 30 days in the county jail.

        When did THEY ever do that for real civil disobedience? Now days the worst you are likely to suffer from civil disobedience in the West is a few years in jail. Those fighting for causes such as civil rights for African-Americans or women's suffrage faced being beaten, tortured, and killed. Mandela was in prison for TWENTY-SEVEN years. The whole point of civil disobedience is to show the injustice in something by pointing the public at the disproportionate sentences handed out.

        Modern activists are generally a bunch of pussies that scream about the injustice of The System but don't actually want to suffer the losses that an actual fight requires. If a cause isn't worth spending a few years in jail, it isn't worth making a fuss out of at all. People like MLK Jr knew their cause was worth the back-lash.

        • Re:Biased summary (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Friday July 22, 2011 @09:00PM (#36854076)

          Now days the worst you are likely to suffer from civil disobedience in the West is a few years in jail.

          Since when is that a small thing to suffer?

          Mandela was in prison for TWENTY-SEVEN years.

          That's what I'm talking about. Mandela accomplished what he set out to, but it basically took him his whole life to do it. And what happens if the people with his level of dedication are executed rather than imprisoned? What happens if the change sought is time-sensitive, such that whoever wins the day today will capture enough power to keep the balance in their favor going forward?

          Civil disobedience doesn't work if you're the only one doing it. In that case the opposition merely has to come down on you hard enough to take you out of the running and deter anyone else from taking your place. It works when people take part on a mass scale. And if there are enough people willing to have an "example" made of them for the cause then great, but in many situations, even for very worthy causes, there are insufficiently many people willing to make that sacrifice. There are, in fact, things worth fighting for that aren't worth dying for.

          So anonymity and penalty avoidance allow the process to bootstrap. If people can show that they can break bad laws without being caught, more people will be emboldened to join them. Once enough people are doing it, some of them will do what you want -- step forward, put their heads on the chopping block and dare the oppressors to martyr them. And by that point, when most every citizen is guilty of the crime, no jury will convict.

          If a cause isn't worth spending a few years in jail, it isn't worth making a fuss out of at all.

          This is nonsense and is the main flaw in your argument. There are undeniably non-frivolous causes worth taking action over that aren't worth going to prison over.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Nelson Mandela.

        • I believe the OP meant civil disobedience in the United States. People in less open (less open than 50s-60s America) regimes faced harsher sentences.

          • So the OP was talking about maybe a period 10-20 years after the Civil Rights movement? No, the OP was just ignorant about the subject. If the OP meant "protesting" then yes the response from government is getting harsher in the 21st century. But protesting isn't necessarily civil disobedience.

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            Hopefully other people thought about that name more than you did.

            Yes, many people using civil disobedience in the US have had an easy ride. Not always, and in general in the world it's not true. But do you really think Martin Luther King Jr. would have thought to himself "damn, I might end up going to jail for more than a weekend? Screw that!"? That the OP seems to think so is sad. I'm not American, but I still admire your real heroes.

            The second point is this: think hard about what your country is beco

          • Dr King was shot for what he believed in.

      • http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/change/science_nonviolence.html [ucsc.edu]
        "One of the distinctive features of left activists is their willingness to go to the streets to win people to their causes and create the political pressures necessary for the social changes they advocate. Studies in social psychology and sociology support this strategy by showing there has to be a non-routine dimension to any effort toward change. It doesn't make any sense to people to say that things are terrible, but they just shoul

      • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Friday July 22, 2011 @09:15PM (#36854132) Homepage

        "Naturally someone will respond that this is a different fight and how dare I compare freedom of information to the civil rights movement etc."

        I got slapped down a decade ago for comparing issues related to copyright to slavery, but I still feel it is a problem that is becoming related to slavery, as a system of control and now justification for imprisonment (copyright infringement used to be mostly only a civil, not a criminal, offense a couple decades ago).
        "License management tools: good, bad, or ugly?"
        http://groups.google.com/group/gnu.misc.discuss/browse_thread/thread/df4b4363d544f766/1e499c6db59117a2?hl=en#1e499c6db59117a2 [google.com]

        A deep issue that no one seems to be talking about is that ultimately, how can you "prove" you have legal access to any digital pattern at all, or "prove" that you do not have patterns you should not -- without a complete review of every financial and informational transaction you have ever made? Like to see if you gave the original away and so forth? How can you prove you have a right to read some book you purchased and format shifted to digital media? And so on. This is a big issue when there are reward-offered "tip lines" for people to rat on their employers or coworkers. Ultimately, the only way copyright can be enforced in the age to come, where you can store the library of congress on your cell phone in twenty years plus all the music ever recorded, is to have an unbelievably intrusive police state...

        Is an all pervasive police state what we want in the USA in order to "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" which is the constitutional intent of copyright? Or is a police state likely to shut down a lot of creativity in a society?

        A decade ago I suggested that in the same way people in the 1960s would have laughed at the idea of a million people in prison in the USA for non-violent drug offenses, which is what we have now, so too we may see the same with copyright soon enough, unless our ideology changes. Hard to believe it was possible then, but we still seem to be going that way. Where do we want to be in ten more years?

        A related satire I sent to the US DOJ years ago when they asked for comments:
            http://www.pdfernhout.net/microslaw.html [pdfernhout.net]

        Lawrence Lessig made a similar point in his book "Code" in the first chapter, "Code Is Law".

        • he only way to effectively insure that the current copyright laws are not widely ignored would be to set up a global surveillance system to watch what every single person does online.

          So yes, slavery. Or if that's not the best word, totalitarian oppression.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          A deep issue that no one seems to be talking about is that ultimately, how can you "prove" you have legal access to any digital pattern at all, or "prove" that you do not have patterns you should not -- without a complete review of every financial and informational transaction you have ever made?

          The same way as with physical property... you don't. I know someone who ended up with a drug conviction, he told me afterwards they took everything he didn't have a receipt for as being from drug money - including a camera I gave him. Simple as that, you don't own nothing until you can prove you do.

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        Very well written. Definitely presents interesting food for thought. Thank you for the post!

    • by bug1 (96678)

      "don't go trying to distort the reasons for your arrest to try and trick people into supporting you"

      Are you claiming Aaron Swartz is trying to trick people to get their support, evidence ?

      More specifically are you claiming he submitted the story, or are you just another extremist complaining about extremists ?

  • by gstoddart (321705)

    Public domain? How quaint ... Do we still have that? Or will they reassert copyright over it as a result of publishing it? :(

    I have little faith in this (but I applaud anybody who actually left this in the public domain).

  • by 15Bit (940730) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:26PM (#36853218)
    I know a lot of academics are becoming annoyed by the publishers and their business models. Frankly its a disgrace that most research isn't freely available to the general public. More often than not they have paid for it via taxation and university fees (most research, at least in europe where i am, is taxpayer funded). Add to that the fact that the academics do the work, write the papers, review the papers (for free i might add) and mostly act as journal editors (for free again), and its hard to see really what the publishers are doing beyond hosting the PDF.

    Oh and the best bit - when you submit your paper to the publisher, you also sign over copyright. So they even own all the taxpayer funded work. Actually i was wrong at the start, its beyond a disgrace.
    • by ThorGod (456163)

      I hear that so loud and clear. Journal articles make up a huge portion of the disciplines I've been a part of (economics, mathematics). Sure, reading articles all day wont teach you all you need to know, but it will teach you something*. At a time where science and mathematics aren't properly valued by public policy (NASA and looming STEM budget cuts come to mind), society needs a strong discussion between the lay audience and specialists.

      *That something' will be more valuable than non-academic, not-peer

    • by backwardMechanic (959818) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:50PM (#36853402) Homepage
      There is a better way. Various groups are seriously trying to push open-access publishing, Frontiers being one example (frontiersin.org). When you look into the problem a little more closely, you find that publishing isn't free. Hosting the PDF is cheap, but somebody has to produce it in the first place and maintain a website. And before that, someone has to arrange for the peer-review to happen, find an editorial board and reviewers, etc. Most open-access outfits use the publisher-pays model - i.e. you pay to have your article published, and then anyone can download it for free. The trouble is this shifts the payments from the largely invisible library subscriptions (taken from university staff overheads) to a very direct, comes-off-your-grant payment. But it is still a better model - we just need to see publishing become a recognised cost in grants. Your article is then, subject to peer review, freely available to anyone who wants it - an the authors retain copyright. Think about it next time you're publishing.

      Now, does anyone want to explain why impact factors are a crap, self-serving metric that promotes more rather than better articles?
      • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday July 22, 2011 @08:16PM (#36853886)

        I love open access, and I have a couple of things published that way (just got invited to do another book chapter, which I'll squeeze in if at all possible), but the publication costs can really hit hard. The PLOS journals are $1350US on the cheap end (PLOS One - not sure why it's cheapest) to $2250US or $2900US for the others. It's hard to explain to a granting agency (or your supervisor, or a grant administrator) why you want to spend $3000 on a publication in a low impact factor journal instead of nothing on a pub in a well recognized journal.

        I think the solution to this problem is going to have to involve the libraries. A little support from them for reputable open journals (there are quite a few not so reputable ones) would go a long way.

      • by Phillip2 (203612)

        When you look into the problem a little more closely, you find that publishing isn't free. Hosting the PDF is cheap, but somebody has to produce it in the first place and maintain a website. And before that, someone has to arrange for the peer-review to happen, find an editorial board and reviewers, etc.

        The thing is that most publishers use an antiquated model. Take one open access publisher that I have used. Their publication process is this:

        First I produce a PDF. They convert this to another PDF. This PDF is then converted, BY HAND, to a word doc, which they then convert automatically to HTML and, you guessed it, another PDF. This is pretty standard in the publishing industry. It's no wonder that it is expensive.

        We have been trialling out an alternative, on http://knowledgeblog.org./ [knowledgeblog.org.] It works like this.

      • Hosting the PDF is cheap, but somebody has to produce it in the first place and maintain a website. And before that, someone has to arrange for the peer-review to happen, find an editorial board and reviewers, etc.

        These costs are not borne by the publisher: the editor is unpaid and responsible for all of these apart from maintaining the website.

        The only thing that the publisher does is allow their name on the publication (as a form of accreditation) and probably curate the article (there are no long-term st

    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:50PM (#36853410)

      I know a lot of academics are becoming annoyed by the publishers and their business models. Frankly its a disgrace that most research isn't freely available to the general public. More often than not they have paid for it via taxation and university fees (most research, at least in europe where i am, is taxpayer funded). Add to that the fact that the academics do the work, write the papers, review the papers (for free i might add) and mostly act as journal editors (for free again), and its hard to see really what the publishers are doing beyond hosting the PDF.

      I'll divide my response to this into two categories: journals published by nonprofit academic societies, and for-profit journals.

      For the most part, the for-profits can, in my opinion, go die in a fire. So there's that.

      The non-profits are much more complicated. These organizations aren't spending lots of money on yachts for CEOs, they're using their funds for (in many cases) education, running conferences, scholarships, and the costs of running and organizing the journals. If you reduce the costs of the journals, a laudable goal of course, you reduce the funds available for their other goals. Also, I doubt highly it's as easy to operate a well-run organization as you portray. It takes copy editors, layout editors, graphics people, and people to simply keep the gears turning. Academics do not do these things.

      So basically, the answer is "it's complicated, and it's harder than you think."

      • by PvtVoid (1252388)

        The non-profits are much more complicated. These organizations aren't spending lots of money on yachts for CEOs, they're using their funds for (in many cases) education, running conferences, scholarships, and the costs of running and organizing the journals. If you reduce the costs of the journals, a laudable goal of course, you reduce the funds available for their other goals.

        Parent is right on. I pretty much only referee for non-profits these days. Fuck Elsevier.

        What I think has in practice be the primary problem with open access, at least in the physical sciences, is that a lot of bottom feeders have exploited the idea to form an archipelago of vanity presses around the outskirts of the more mainstream journals.

        Step 1: Charge authors for "open access"
        Step 2: Have minimal publication standards
        Step 3: Profit!

        There need to be a few credible organizing bodies to lend

        • by leenks (906881)

          Citeseer is a pretty good filter imo. Well cited articles tend to be better than less cited ones in most fields. In those fields where there are few well cited papers, well, every paper is worth reading (or none of them are).

      • by the gnat (153162) on Friday July 22, 2011 @07:20PM (#36853588)

        So basically, the answer is "it's complicated, and it's harder than you think."

        Speaking both as both a producer and consumer of scientific articles, there is actually a simple answer to this: granting agencies need to mandate open-access publishing as a condition of funding. This still costs money, obviously, but I think there's ample justification for the agencies taking this into account when calculating awards. There should be a limit, of course - publishing open-access in Nature costs something like $7000, compared to $1500 for most non-profit journals.

        Howard Hughes Medical Institute already started requiring this several years ago, and it effectively forced the publisher Elsevier to accept its terms. The NIH eventually went even further and mandated that all future NIH-funded articles needed to be uploaded to the PubMed Central database after six months. I don't think they even agreed to compensate the journal publishers; NIH-funded research makes up such a huge fraction of biomedical publications that they can do whatever they want. Since virtually everyone, including biotech and pharma companies, despise the scientific publishers, there is considerable political support for further moves in this direction.

        • Why not just cut journals out completely and rely on PubMed Central as the authoritative source?

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            PubMed doesn't have the organizational or production resources to take over review and publication of every paper in medicine/biotech. That doesn't mean they couldn't eventually, but it certainly won't happen overnight.

            Besides, having one journal to rule them all (which is what PubMed would become) isn't such a hot idea either.

      • by the gnat (153162)

        It takes copy editors, layout editors, graphics people, and people to simply keep the gears turning.

        I forgot to address this in my first reply. One other big change that would make a significant difference is to throw out the concept of print journals altogether. There are really only two journals left that have any value as full magazines: Science and Nature. Any other journal, most people read them online and/or download and print the PDFs they care about. (Libraries will still subscribe to the print

      • Its not that complicated. Science magazine is between 75-150 dollars per year and you get a physical copy every other week mailed to your door.

        Ads? Yes. Huge popularity? Yes. (I realize these two factors play a role in the reduced price).

        Some of the 3-5k/year journals out there might find far more readership, and advertising sponsors, if they tried a reduced price model for a while. My band (in sig) operates at a slight loss, but the goal is to gain enough exposure to overcome that problem (and to ult

    • by pz (113803)

      I hear this argument all the time, and it misses the biggest contribution of journals: reputation. In the present time, journals contribute greatly by allowing certain papers to be associated with their name, and disallowing others. I'm not talking just about peer review, but the initial editorial review prior to peer review which, for high-impact journals, is where most of the rejections originate.

      When you publish in Nature, for example, you are effectively guaranteed a much bigger audience than publishi

      • by dachshund (300733)

        Yes, but the publishers themselves are not providing the value here. Almost without exception the peer-review is done at no charge by academics, and the publisher simply typesets the results -- and even that is increasingly done by academics at no charge.

        You are right that the publishers own the properties and can therefore charge rents. But you are wrong in thinking those properties are inherently valuable. It's primarily simple path dependence. If funding agencies mandated open access publishing, then th

    • http://www.pdfernhout.net/open-letter-to-grantmakers-and-donors-on-copyright-policy.html [pdfernhout.net]
      "Foundations, other grantmaking agencies handling public tax-exempt dollars, and charitable donors need to consider the implications for their grantmaking or donation policies if they use a now obsolete charitable model of subsidizing proprietary publishing and proprietary research. In order to improve the effectiveness and collaborativeness of the non-profit sector overall, it is suggested these grantmaking organization

    • by Lando (9348)

      As noted that is beside the case and doesn't have anything to do with the whole situation; however, you also forgot that in order to be published the school or the researcher also has to pay the journal hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the journal.

  • rational ignorance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by epine (68316) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:32PM (#36853248)

    There's a connection here to rational ignorance. Rational ignorance is when you don't bother to understand and complain about the sugar quota, because it's only costing you a few dollars per year, whereas informing yourself and complaining about it would cost a lot more.

    From George Will on America, Politics, and Baseball [econtalk.org]

    It's the old point about the law that governs Washington is the law that concentrated benefits and dispersed costs. That's why we have sugar quotas; 308 million Americans eat sugar; a few thousand Americans grow sugar. We have sugar quotas. Why? Concentrated benefits, dispersed costs. Probably told this story on EconTalk before, but when I mentioned my distress over that fact to a Congressional staffer, he said--and I think I used hundreds of people grow sugar--he said: Well, it's more like a dozen. Even more depressing.

    From An Interview with Milton Friedman [econlib.org]

    Very little. Because it's not in the self-interest of the recipients to figure it out. What housewife is going to spend the time to save the extra moneyâ"maybe it's $5.00 or $10.00 a year she pays extra on sugar? It doesn't pay to try to figure out. What you're dealing with is rational ignorance. The rational part is what I want to emphasize. It's not ignorance that is avoidable because it's rational to be ignorant.

    The problem with this is that the sugar families note that hardly anyone is actively complaining and use this to argue "well, no one complains, so it's all right".

    In the courts, the flow of money is tangible, whereas pervasive resentment masked by rational ignorance is not. JSTOR will attempt to use this to their advantage. The only way to drive a wedge into this equation is to make both sides tangible.

    • by epine (68316)

      s/$(previous_lame_subject_line)/rational ignorance meets punctured equilibrium

      When your entrenched adversary of nickle-and-diming shows a moment of weakness, it's time for rational mob psychology.

  • by z-j-y (1056250) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:35PM (#36853274)

    These old papers weren't published directly on internet in 1923. Someone had to transfer all of them from physical form to digital form, page by page. That's is a huge amount of work. Should we all be entitled to enjoy them free of charge? So who's paying the workers?

    • by mykos (1627575)
      The people who contracted them to do the work are the ones who should be paying them.

      If the workers did the work for mankind, they have already received the award they sought--satisfaction in the spreading of knowledge.

      If the workers did the work for money, they have been justly compensated.

      If the workers expected money for work that nobody solicited, they are idiots.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Um, presumably the same organization that contracted the workers to scan the stuff is the one that's selling the result, to recover costs.

        $8/paper sounds like a lot, but there are quite a few papers and they're not exactly hot sellers. It's wonderful that they ARE available, and I'd gladly pay $8 for a copy of an old paper I needed, rather than have to find it, possibly to travel to it's location, and photocopy it myself.

        The business model surrounding NEW papers is a bit of a problem, but I don't see the i

    • by grcumb (781340) on Friday July 22, 2011 @09:14PM (#36854130) Homepage Journal

      These old papers weren't published directly on internet in 1923. Someone had to transfer all of them from physical form to digital form, page by page. That's is a huge amount of work. Should we all be entitled to enjoy them free of charge? So who's paying the workers?

      Emphatically yes, we should.

      I manage technical operations for the Pacific Legal Information Institute, and that's exactly the model we follow. The arguments for free access to critical learning materials is compelling. In our case (legal documents) it can be stated as simply as this: If ignorance of the law is no excuse, then access to the law must be completely free. If it's not, then we live in a society that is fundamentally unjust.

      I'll leave it as a (very simple) exercise for the reader to work out how this argument extends to higher learning.

      As to the question of who pays - We're donor-funded, because most of our constituent nations (20 in all) are very poor. In Australia, our sibling organisation (the Australasian Legal Information Institute) is largely funded by legal practices and other stakeholders. The same is true of the Canadian Legal Information Institute.

      Our collective manifesto is here [canlii.org].

  • by Tink2000 (524407) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:35PM (#36853280) Homepage Journal

    I could have sworn GB was short for gigabyte. When did that stop? Why didn't I get the memo? Or is it a jigabyte?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jeremy Erwin (2054)

      1 GB= 10^9 bytes (gigabyte)
      1 GiB=2^30 bytes (gibibyte)

      It changed in 1998 [nist.gov]

    • by ais523 (1172701)
      With SI prefixes, GB = gigabyte = units of a billion bytes, GiB = gibibytes = units of 0x40000000 = 1073741824 bytes. Quite a few people think that this terminology is stupid, or at least stupidly-named (I mean, "gibibyte"?), but at least it's accurate, and it's nice to know exactly whether the units are based on powers of 2 or of 10.
      • I thought the idea was to use the GB (base 10) version for end users, to be consistent with every other use of the SI prefixes, and GiB for when it's actually more convenient to use the binary version, e.g. hardware design, programming, that kind of thing. Doesn't seem to have worked out that way though - file sizes aren't naturally powers of two.

      • One gigabyte is 1073741824. Period end of story, etc. Forever. Always has been always will be.

  • by leehwtsohg (618675) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:52PM (#36853424)

    The benefit of giving someone the copyright is so that they can distribute copies to everybody (for a cost, of course, if they so desire), without fear that it might be copied. Whereas if someone has the only copy, but can not get a copyright, then they will prevent anyone from obtaining the document. So, even if something is in the public domain, you don't automatically get a right to have access to the work in order to copy it.

    Protection from access can by via lock (royal society), or can be attempted by trying to give you access only if you sign some agreement (JSTOR).
    I think also under some conditions, the original work is under public domain, but a derivative (say retranslation, or new photo, or some such) gets a new copyright.

    So, it isn't just important that the a work is in the public domain, but that many people actually have copies of it.

  • Librarians (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sunfly (1248694) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:57PM (#36853446)
    I thought the reason for librarians is to make data easily found by users of the library. Then I go to do research and am astonished by the amount of effort required to find anything in digital format. I think my mom could come up with a better system... the librarians are failing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 22, 2011 @07:34PM (#36853662)

    Of all the academic paper databases to pick on, why JSTOR? It's a non-profit institution that tries to make as much as possible available at low cost. Zero cost? No. They have bills to pay too. And while I understand the principle that if it is out of copyright, it would be ideal if it were freely available to everyone, scanning thousands of documents takes time (i.e. money if you are hiring people to do it) and hosting thousands of documents for access by thousands of people costs money too.

    If people want this to change, they have two legitimate options:
    1) scan the old, out-of-copyright papers in themselves and make them available for free in a volunteer, "open" effort (paying for the website hosting is left as an exercise for the reader)
    2) donate enough to JSTOR that they don't have to charge for access to public domain works anymore (if you have boatloads of money, make it a condition)

    Ripping off JSTOR's hard work scanning in documents isn't a solution even if we are talking about public domain materials. "Public domain" doesn't mean "free access" as in $$$, it means "free to copy", as in if you can get an original copy, copyright does not prohibit you from copying it and doing whatever you want with it. If you've gotten access illegally in the first place, that's a whole other equation. You might not be brought up on copyright charges, but you could get charged with a different crime.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      It's too bad you published AC. Mods - this needs to be a +5 Insightful/Informative.

      Public domain means you can take a copy of the original and do what you want with it. It doesn't mean you're entitled for someone to do a bunch of work to put it in a convenient format, and then spoon feed it to you.

      Yes, if the copies of the original are restricted unreasonably that's a problem. But THAT's the problem, not someone trying to recover their costs for providing a useful service. Particularly not a NON-PROFIT

    • by mariushm (1022195) on Friday July 22, 2011 @09:50PM (#36854280)

      Even if a person scanning the pages is paid 100$ an hour for his work, that person can probably scan 2 pages a minute, at a cost of about 0.8$ per page. JSTOR charges 10$+ per article, which may be one or several pages, and you basically get a token that expires in 14 days. You don't even get permanent access to that article.

      I'm sure nobody says they shouldn't try to recover their costs and cover the bandwidth and server costs but it probably costs less than 3$ to host a PDF file for 20-50 years. Charging tens of dollars for every access seems really greedy and wrong, especially since they didn't create the work, they didn't pay for it, they just host it and scanned it...

  • by eggman9713 (714915) <{eggman97132007} {at} {mac.com}> on Friday July 22, 2011 @09:16PM (#36854134)
    So, is this torrent legal or not? Although I understand these documents are public domain, did the torrent creator get the data in a less-than legal way? Am I liable in any way if I download said torrent? No, I did not RTFA.
  • I can't seem to be able to DL the damn thing from Piratebay. Either I get a "search is frazzled come back later" message or I can only DL a tiny little file. I switched form Opera to Miro and the same problem. I was wondering if someone has a mirror on this thing. This is really important stuff. It needs to be copied and re-copied.

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