Thursday, June 9, 2016

Open access: All human knowledge is there—so why can’t everybody access it?; Ars Technica, 6/7/16

Glyn Moody, Ars Technica; Open access: All human knowledge is there—so why can’t everybody access it? :
"In 1836, Anthony Panizzi, who later became principal librarian of the British Museum, gave evidence before a parliamentary select committee. At that time, he was only first assistant librarian, but even then he had an ambitious vision for what would one day became the British Library. He told the committee:
I want a poor student to have the same means of indulging his learned curiosity, of following his rational pursuits, of consulting the same authorities, of fathoming the most intricate inquiry as the richest man in the kingdom, as far as books go, and I contend that the government is bound to give him the most liberal and unlimited assistance in this respect...
The example of The Pirate Bay shows that the current game of domain whack-a-mole is not one that the lawyers are likely to win. But even if they did, it is too late.
Science magazine's analysis of Sci-Hub downloads reveals that the busiest city location is Tehran. It wrote: "Much of that is from Iranians using programs to automatically download huge swathes of Sci-Hub’s papers to make a local mirror of the site. Rahimi, an engineering student in Tehran, confirms this. 'There are several Persian sites similar to Sci-Hub'."
In this, people are following in the footsteps of Aaron Swartz, with the difference that we don't know what he intended to do with the millions of articles he had downloaded, whereas those mirroring Sci-Hub certainly intend to share the contents widely. It would be surprising if others around the world, especially in emerging economies, are not busily downloading all 45 million papers to do the same."

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