Saying that he was inspired by recent news of the arrest of an activist for downloading almost five million journal articles online, a man by the name of Greg Maxwell on Thursday uploaded thousands of scientific journal articles that he says should be available to the public for free.
The uploader, Greg Maxwell, posted a manifesto of sorts on the Swedish file-trading site The Pirate Bay.
“The documents are part of the shared heritage of all mankind, and are rightfully in the public domain, but they are not available freely. Instead the articles are available at $19 each—for one month’s viewing, by one person, on one computer. It’s a steal. From you,” Maxwell wrote in a note accompanying the link to the torrents of the journals.
Maxwell, who didn’t immediately respond to an interview request, wrote that he had obtained the journals legally, and that he had wanted to upload the files before to broaden the knowledge-base at Wikipedia.
But he had been worried about legal action. That changed after he heard about the news of the arrest of the progressive activist and coder Aaron Swartz.
Swartz was formally charged Tuesday with hacking into MIT’s network and violating academic database provider JSTOR’ terms of service for using an automated program to download 4.8 million articles and book reviews.
Swartz is a 24-year-old progressive activist and long-time coder whose work on web standards reflects his interest in the medium as a way to disseminate knowledge widely. He’s also known for being part of Reddit, although his role with the company is disputed.
JSTOR issued a statement Tuesday saying that Swartz has returned the documents.
The statement said that JSTOR “received confirmation that the content was not and would not be used, copied, transferred, or distributed.”
Maxwell said that the academic publishing model is effectively broken, with authors often not getting paid, but publishers charging huge sums for access to journals.
TPM hasn’t been able to download the enormous file to verify its contents, but Maxwell says it’s the historic back archives of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
The Royal Society in Britain was founded in 1660 and published the world’s first science journals. It’s now Britain’s national academy of science and publishes several different science journals.
Authors of journal articles can choose to openly disseminate their research online, according to the Society’s web site, by paying an article processing fee.
Those articles are covered by Creative Commons licenses.