Sapere Aude = civil disobedience
On January 11th, digital activist (amongst others) Aaron Swartz committed suicide after fierce prosecution by the US government for copyright infringes. Swartz found a loop-hole within JSTOR and MIT, and downloaded millions of academic journal papers. Subscriptions to academic journals are one of the biggests expsenses of a university. The system is even worse than the music industry: we scholars donate our work (which is heavily subsidized by the university and the government) to these for-profit publishers such as Elsevier, Wiley, JSTOR and many others; they loan it back to our universities for high charges (!), and these publish corporations ask individual users a ridiculous amount of money for one paper to read.
In his Guerilla Open Access Manifesto (2008), Swartz called for action in the grand tradition of civil disobedience:
“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. […] 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….”
Kant’s Sapere Aude (dare to know) gets a digital and reversed meaning. We scholars have to take a stand against the academic pubishing industry. Start by reading about civil disobedience in the current issue of Krisis. And publish all of your texts online.