• Photo credit: The Washington Post
    By Michael S. Rosenwald
    Alexandra Elbakyan is a highbrow pirate in hiding.

    The 27-year-old graduate student from Kazakhstan is operating a searchable online database of […]

    • Information and knowledge should be free. Copyright in such cases is itself a form of theft, indeed the real theft. The whole concept of ‘intellectual property’ is nothing but the privatisation of the public realm of ideas for the benefit of the few. And in there public face these few are not even human individuals being fairly rewarded for their own efforts but vast fascist corporations making obscene profits.

    • There are … ways to argue that copyright infringement is not theft …

      There are, equally, ways to argue that copyright is itself an infringement of our natural rights. Putting information behind paywalls is anti-democratic by definition.

      Indeed, is not the withholding of information a form of theft? Is the polity at the very least, if not society at large, not impoverished by anyone who advertises knowledge yet fails to make it freely available. Yet newspapers do this every day …

      Specialist publishers, including scientific publishers, are examples of a wider social ill. The question we should be asking is: What value does the Publisher add?

      In the past the costs of storage and distribution meant that there was a minor reason to ask someone to aggregate the content by subject (like a Science Journal or Legal Case Index), organize that content and advertise its availability. In return they charged a small fee for these minor administrative tasks.

      As the main story points out, the Net does away with the vast majority of the costs of publishing.

      Publishers of records in the professional sphere do not have the costs associated with creating the content. A legal publisher does not fund the courts, a scientific publisher does not fund the research and a medical publisher does not have to fund the management of the patients and the creative and investigative processes involved.

      Indeed, we the tax paying public are the ones who provide those funds. Surely, paying for it again is the biggest scam going.

      In short, the hard work is always done before publication, and never by the Publisher.

      What value does a publisher add, in the Net age?

      … for education and research, copyright laws are especially damaging

      Do ordinary citizens never wish to learn? Wouldn’t you like to fact check the LAT or the New Yorker even once?

      Are ordinary citizens ever likely to do some research? How about the citizens of Flint, Michigan? Is Erin Brockovich already a stranger to us?

      Education highlights the problems associated with the concept and function of copyright, because it is a simplified model compared to the publication of content where publishers had significant investment and financial risk prior to initial publication.

      However, many of us are not convinced that the stories we are spun on copyright hold water, in any case.

      Alexandra Elbakyan … has been compared to Robin Hood …

      Because she’s fighting a social injustice.

      Alexandra said: Sometimes I think it is not a good comparison, since what he was doing was illegal

      Sorry Alex, what you’re doing is illegal. I think what you mean is: It is, nevertheless, just.

      There’s the rub. Why isn’t copyright up for discussion? In fact, why do we never hear about it? Come to think of it, why do the leaked TPP, TTIP, etc. extend copyright yet again?

      The answer appears to be that copyright has become an intrinsic part of the Project to Roll Back the Enlightenment. Copyright has become so Establishment in the West that it is less questionable, and less questioned, than taxes – TAXES!

      … appreciate how [Alexandra Elbakyan] is shining a light on just how out-of-whack the system is of providing easy access to basic information that our universities and scholars need to advance science and research …

      This is, to me, a case of special pleading. On what basis do we apply a copyright exemption for scholars? Why should there be one rule in education, while the rest of us are only fed the content that publishers deem appropriate to be made public? This idea flies in the face of democracy.

      No-one, to the best of my knowledge, is providing a substantive – even a basic and adequate – justification for education exemption from copyright.

      I take my hat off to Alex; At least it’s a start.


    • I’ve always wished that I was a poet, instead of an English teacher:

      Where The Mind Is Without Fear

      Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
      Where knowledge is free
      Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
      By narrow domestic walls
      Where words come out from the depth of truth
      Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
      Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
      Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
      Where the mind is led forward by thee
      Into ever-widening thought and action
      Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

      A much greater mind than any of us.

    • The model of peer reviewed publication, though it was a crowning achievement for the Royal Society over three hundred years ago, needs updating.

      Scientific publications do indeed create value that they have the right to sell, in the reviewing process.

      The papers themselves should be shared freely but be taken as of no proven value to any outside the field unless actively endorsed by experts from within the field. Scientific publications should sell authoratitive reviews of papers (that may yet fall short of being papers themselves by the fact of not bringing any new material of their own to public attention.)

      Scientific publications would therefore need to up the level of their review process, rather than simply allowing passage on the nod, the formal peer review published must needs be substantive, to earn its shilling, for the publishers and their reviewers.

    • Let’s hope she doesn’t end up like Aaron Swartz

      Probably a good idea if she never travels to the US.

    • If I had the keys to the city, I’d probably make knowledge, all knowledge, accessible to everyone. The entire world’s knowledge uploaded to Wikipedia. I’m not a fan or profit at the expense of pain to someone else so I don’t particularly care if a multinational loses some money.

      Knowledge sets you free.

    • To eejit. I really loved your poem and would like to use it. How do I give credit to you? Thanks.

    • Hi David [#6]

      Feel the love Brother


    • To @José Moreno Rodríguez, the poem as has been posted on this webpage by @eejit is actually composed by the Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore {{Where the mind is without fear}}.