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[liberationtech] Tragic News: Aaron Swartz commits suicide

Julian Oliver julian at
Sat Jan 12 11:35:42 PST 2013

..on Sat, Jan 12, 2013 at 02:06:55PM -0500, Gregory Maxwell wrote:
> On Sat, Jan 12, 2013 at 1:50 PM, Julian Oliver <julian at> wrote:
> > This is JSTOR going 'freeware' rather than Free Software. In the programming
> > domain it's comparable to source code that is technically open for reading yet
> > disallows modification or redistribution.
> This is absolutely the case, but at the same time— claims, never heard
> by big names negotiating with jstor before, that they were planning it
> all along notwithstanding— it does show sensitivity to negative
> attention.  That some change can be made, even if it's just
> pretextual, is important.  Likewise, while getting the right TOS does
> matter, access itself is the most important thing.  Lets see them
> prosecute someone for violating their TOS when they execute their
> rights over public domain works— that would be the kind of
> unambiguously frivolous litigation which would create the kind of
> outrage needed to topple the whole thing.

You are right that we need to celebrate the small changes. And indeed it's
better that these articles are being read. Nonetheless I do find it frustrating
to see so many towing the line that JSTOR is "opening up their articles to the
public" when in fact (from the press release) "Anyone can sign up for a JSTOR
account and read up to three articles for free every two weeks."

That's as 'free' as a 1h parking spot. JSTOR's strategy is in the interest of
maintaining control, not relinquishing it (naturally). By continuing to use
JSTOR - even signing up to download tantalising 'free' papers - is to show
support for an ongoing effort to privatise critical thought. 


Julian Oliver

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