Georgia Republican introduces legislation to kill PACER, the outrageous paywall around the US justice system

PACER (previously) is a paywall that charges you every time you look up the US's public domain Federal court records; for years, activists have railed against its existence, liberating key documents from it and putting them online for free, calling on Congress to eliminate it altogether. Read the rest

Consortium of the largest science funders in Europe announce that they'll only fund open access research

Eleven of Europe's largest scientific research funders, responsible for €7.6B in annual grants, have announced "Plan S," whereby scientists will only be able to get research grants if they promise to first publish all their work in open access, no-cost journals. Read the rest

An Irish band's tribute to Aaron Swartz

Brian writes, "I play in band in Dublin, Ireland. In January 2017 we released an album called 'Long Gone' and on it we had a song called 'Papaya' which I wrote after watching The Internet's Own Boy. It is a tribute to Aaron Swartz. The title came when I was singing 'The panic is spreading like fire' I really spat out the 'like fire' and the rest of the guys in the band thought I was saying 'papaya'. The 'Simple, really, simple reallys...' came from RSS." Read the rest

Podcast: Petard, Part 03

Here's the third part of my reading (MP3) of Petard (part one, part two), a story from MIT Tech Review's Twelve Tomorrows, edited by Bruce Sterling; a story inspired by, and dedicated to, Aaron Swartz -- about elves, Net Neutrality, dorms and the collective action problem.

MP3 Read the rest

Nova Scotia abandons its attempt to destroy a teenager who stumbled on a wide-open directory of sensitive information

Last month, an unnamed 19-year-old Nova Scotian grew frustrated with the lack of a search interface for the province's public repository of responses to public records requests; he wanted to research the province's dispute with its public school teachers and didn't fancy manually clicking on thousands of links to documents to find the relevant ones, so he wrote a single line of code that downloaded all the public documents to his computer, from which he could search them with ease. Read the rest

Announcing "Petard," a new science fiction story reading on my podcast

Here's the first part of my reading (MP3) of Petard, a story from MIT Tech Review's Twelve Tomorrows, edited by Bruce Sterling; a story inspired by, and dedicated to, Aaron Swartz -- about elves, Net Neutrality, dorms and the collective action problem. Read the rest

Nova Scotia filled its public Freedom of Information Archive with citizens' private data, then arrested the teen who discovered it

A 19 year old in Nova Scotia wanted to learn more about the provincial teachers' dispute, so he filed some Freedom of Information requests; he wasn't satisfied with the response so he decided to dig through other documents the province had released under open records laws to look for more, but couldn't find a search tool that was adequate to the job. Read the rest

Cloudflare terminate Sci-Hub domains, declining to challenge court order

Cloudflare has terminated service to Sci-Hub, the site that provides paywall-free access to virtually all scholarly work, citing Aaron Swartz as inspiration -- Cloudflare previously serviced the sci-hub.la, sci-hub.tv, and sci-hub.tw domains, but in response to an injunction obtained by the American Chemical Society, they will no longer provide that service. Read the rest

65 out of the top 100 most-cited scientific papers are behind a paywall, with a weighted average cost of $32.33/each

Noting that "the web was built specifically to share research papers amongst scientists," Josh Nicholson and Alberto Pepe report on the dismal state of the web for accessing the most-cited scientific papers across the literature -- 65 of the top 100 most-cited papers being behind paywalls. Read the rest

Aaron Swartz Day is today, and for the first time, there's a webcast

Today is the Fifth Annual Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon Weekend, and for the first time, the speakers will be webcast, starting at 1PM Pacific: Read the rest

New tool helps authors claim their copyrights back from publishers (even "perpetual assignments")

Under US copyright law, creators who have signed away their copyrights for the "full duration of copyright" can still get their rights back from publishers under something called the "Termination of Transfer," which is a hellishly complex and technical copyright provision that is almost never used, since it requires that creators wait decades and then successfully navigate all that complexity (even knowing how many years you have to wait is complicated!). Read the rest

Every judicial decision has been liberated from the US court system's paywall

US court records are not copyrighted, but the US court system operates a paywall called "PACER" that is supposed to recoup the costs of serving text files on the internet; charging $0.10/page for access to the public domain, and illegally profiting to the tune of $80,000,000/year. Read the rest

Fundraising for Diego Gómez, grad student who faced criminal charges for sharing a scientific paper

Timothy from Creative Commons writes, "A few weeks ago Diego Gómez, the former Colombian student who's been prosecuted for sharing a research paper online, was acquitted of criminal charges. Read the rest

Theresa May wants to ban crypto: here's what that would cost, and here's why it won't work anyway

Aaron Swartz once said, "It's no longer OK not to understand how the Internet works."

Remembering the SOPA blackout, five years later

Five years ago, we won an unprecedented victory: spurred on by blackouts of more than 50,000 sites, more than 8 million Americans called Congress to object to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a brutal internet censorship bill that would have been a stake through the heart of the open net. SOPA, which had been tipped to sail through Congress without any fuss, died an unprecedented death. It set a precedent. Read the rest

Carmen Ortiz, the prosecutor who hounded Aaron Swartz, is retiring

Reed writes, "Carmen Ortiz, the US Federal Attorney for the state of Massachusetts who was responsible for the death of EFF member Aaron Swartz, recently announced her retirement. For those who don't recall the case, Swartz committed suicide following an unlawful and vindictive prosecution, undertaken only to enhance Ortiz's career as being 'tough on white collar crime' and 'lawless hackers'. Read the rest

At long last, America's racist, crazy tough-on-crime prosecutors are losing elections

Historically, being an elected prosecutor was a sweet gig: operating with "unchecked power and no transparency," you generally got to run unopposed for re-election, and on the rare instances in which someone did dare to run against the incumbent, the incumbent usually won. Read the rest

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