When you think of BitTorrent, you probably think of movies, music, and games being shared illicitly. Well, one man by the name of Greg Maxwell is turning all of that on its head by uploading a cache of 18,592 scientific papers to the torrent site The Pirate Bay. This is, according to Maxwell, a protest against the prosecution of programmer Aaron Swartz for theft of data.
The 32GB torrent contains papers from the JSTOR archive. JSTOR is an academic archive of papers that is accessible to most accredited academic institutions. However, many scientific articles can only be obtained for an additional fee. Maxwell explains that it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to get all these articles.
Maxwell alleges that he gained access to these files several years ago through legal means, but hesitated publishing them for fear of the Draconian copyright claims many scholarly journals place on content. The plight of Aaron Swartz (who is being prosecuted for remotely downloading JSTOR articles through MIT’s computers) changed his mind.
“If I can remove even one dollar of ill-gained income from a poisonous industry which acts to suppress scientific and historic understanding, then whatever personal cost I suffer will be justified,” Maxwell said in his torrent post. Do you think scientific papers should be available for free download from academic journals?