[ANSOL-geral] The Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto, by Aaon Swartz

André Esteves aife netvisao.pt
Domingo, 13 de Janeiro de 2013 - 00:09:28 WET

Written by Aaron Swartz July 2008, Eremo, Italy

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 

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?


Rest in Peace, Aaron.

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