Aaron Swartz domani al Teatro Valle Occupato

Nel 2008, Aaron Swartz scriveva il Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto, proprio qui, nel nostro paese:

L’informazione è potere. Ma come con ogni tipo di potere, ci sono quelli che se ne vogliono impadronire. L’intero patrimonio scientifico e culturale, pubblicato nel corso dei secoli in libri e riviste, è sempre più digitalizzato e tenuto sotto chiave da una manciata di società private. Vuoi leggere le riviste che ospitano i più famosi risultati scientifici? Dovrai pagare enormi somme ad editori come Reed Elsevier.

C’è chi lotta per cambiare tutto questo. Il movimento Open Access ha combattuto valorosamente perché gli scienziati non cedano i loro diritti d’autore e che invece il loro lavoro sia pubblicato su Internet, a condizioni che consentano l’accesso a tutti. Ma anche nella migliore delle ipotesi, il loro lavoro varrà solo per le cose pubblicate in futuro. Tutto ciò che è stato pubblicato fino ad oggi sarà perduto.

Questo è un prezzo troppo alto da pagare. Forzare i ricercatori a pagare per leggere il lavoro dei loro colleghi? Scansionare intere biblioteche, ma consentire solo alla gente che lavora per Google di leggerne i libri? Fornire articoli scientifici alle università d’élite del Primo Mondo, ma non ai bambini del Sud del Mondo? Tutto ciò è oltraggioso ed inaccettabile.

“Sono d’accordo,” dicono in molti, “ma cosa possiamo fare? Le società detengono i diritti d’autore, guadagnano enormi somme di denaro facendo pagare l’accesso, ed è tutto perfettamente legale — non c’è niente che possiamo fare per fermarli”. Ma qualcosa che possiamo fare c’è, qualcosa che è già stato fatto: possiamo contrattaccare.

Tutti voi, che avete accesso a queste risorse, studenti, bibliotecari o scienziati, avete ricevuto un privilegio: potete nutrirvi al banchetto della conoscenza mentre il resto del mondo rimane chiuso fuori. Ma non dovete — anzi, moralmente, non potete — conservare questo privilegio solo per voi, avete il dovere di condividerlo con il mondo. Avete il dovere di scambiare le password con i colleghi e scaricare gli articoli per gli amici.

Tutti voi che siete stati chiusi fuori non starete a guardare, nel frattempo. Vi intrufulerete attraverso i buchi, scavalcherete le recinzioni, e libererete le informazioni che gli editori hanno chiuso e le condividerete con i vostri amici.

Ma tutte queste azioni sono condotte nella clandestinità oscura e nascosta. Sono chiamate “furto” o “pirateria”, come se condividere conoscenza fosse l’equivalente morale di saccheggiare una nave ed assassinarne l’equipaggio, ma condividere non è immorale — è un imperativo morale. Solo chi fosse accecato dall’avidità rifiuterebbe di concedere una copia ad un amico.

E le grandi multinazionali, ovviamente, sono accecate dall’avidità. Le stesse leggi a cui sono sottoposte richiedono che siano accecate dall’avidità — se così non fosse i loro azionisti si rivolterebbero. E i politici, corrotti dalle grandi aziende, le supportano approvando leggi che danno loro il potere esclusivo di decidere chi può fare copie.

Non c’è giustizia nel rispettare leggi ingiuste. È tempo di uscire allo scoperto e, nella grande tradizione della disobbedienza civile, dichiarare la nostra opposizione a questo furto privato della cultura pubblica.

Dobbiamo acquisire le informazioni, ovunque siano archiviate, farne copie e condividerle con il mondo. Dobbiamo prendere ciò che è fuori dal diritto d’autore e caricarlo su Internet Archive. Dobbiamo acquistare banche dati segrete e metterle sul web. Dobbiamo scaricare riviste scientifiche e caricarle sulle reti di condivisione. Dobbiamo lottare per la Guerrilla Open Access.

Se in tutto il mondo saremo in numero sufficiente, non solo manderemo un forte messaggio contro la privatizzazione della conoscenza, ma la renderemo un ricordo del passato.

Vuoi essere dei nostri?

Luglio 2008, Eremo, Italia

(tradotto in italiano da Silvia Franchini, Marco Solieri, elle di ci, Andrea Raimondi, Luca Corsato)

 

Domani al Teatro Valle Occupato, nell`ambito dei Commons Cafe`, parliamo , insieme a Juan Carlos de Martin del Centro Nexa su Internet e Societa, del Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto, della tragica morte di Aaron e delle domande che ha sollevato in tutto il mondo che riguardano l`accesso al sapere e il diritto alla condivisione della cultura prodotta con fondi pubblici.

“E` giusto tenere sotto chiave e distribuire a pagamento la conoscenza scientifica frutto della ricerca universitaria pubblica? Chi veramente guadagna dalle piattaforme a pagamento come JSTOR, gli autori o gli editori?

Come disseminare la conoscenza online? Come garantire il diritto all`accesso al sapere e alla sua condivisione, allo stesso tempo salvaguardando gli autori? Come puo la ricerca scientifica sopravvivere, se viene distribuita gratuitamente online?
Si possono cambiare, oggi, leggi sulla circolazione e la distribuzione del sapere che appaiono obsolete nel mondo digitale? Esistono nuovi modelli di finanziamento della conoscenza, che rendano competitiva l`universita nel mondo digitale senza bloccare l`accesso pubblico al sapere?”

 

 

Lessig on Aaron Swartz: Why was he being charged with 13 felonies?

It has been an awful week. Together with Adib Kheir, who was a very important person to me, I am mourning with the entire Internet community the loss of  one of the bravest fighters for the open web, Aaron Swartz. Somebody who fought so much to keep the Internet an open place; somebody who -among millions of other great things he did – helped to start Creative Commons and successfully mobilized the web against SOPA.

This “kid” (he was only 26 yrs old)  committed suicide in his NYC apartment one week ago. Since then, the debate on the Internet about this tragic loss and the reasons behind it has been growing and growing.

I will try to come back on this and give more context to the readers of this blog who might not be all familiar with Aaron and his case.

But tonight I want to re-publish something that touched me deeply in my heart. It`s Lawrence Lessig`s latest post on Aaron, who he deeply loved. It is just heartbreaking. And it gives us a lot to think about..about law, moral, society, and love.

 

A time for silence

A week ago today, Aaron gave up. And since I received the call late Friday night telling me that, like so many others who were close to him, I have not rested. Not slept, really. Not connected with my kids, at all. Not held my wife except to comfort her tears, or for her to comfort mine.

Instead of rest, I have been frantically trying to explain, to connect, and to make sense of all of this. Endless emails responding to incredible kindness, phone call after phone call with reporters and friends, and the only solace I know: writing.

But none of that has made this better. Indeed, with every exchange, it only gets worse. I understand it less. I am angry more. I think of yet another, “If only I had …”

I need to step back from this for now. I am grateful for your kind emails. I am sorry if I can’t answer them. To the scores of people who write to tell me they were wronged by US Attorney Ortiz, I am sorry, that is not my fight. To the press — especially the press wanting “just five minutes” — I apologize. This isn’t a “just five minutes” story, at least from me.

There have been a handful of smiles this past week. My three year old, Tess, putting her arms around my neck, holding me as tight as she possibly could, promising me “the doctors will put him back together, papa, they will.” A screenwriter friend, grabbing me after a talk in New York, and pulling me into an argument about his next great film. And best of all, the astonishingly beautiful letter from MIT’s president, acknowledging — amazingly — at least the possibility of responsibility, and appointing the very best soul on that side of Cambridge to review and guide that great if flawed institution’s review.

But these smiles have been drowned by endless sadness, and even greater disappointment — and none more pronounced than the utterly profound disappointment in our government, Carmen Ortiz in particular.

I hate my perpetual optimism about our government. Aaron was buried on the tenth anniversary of the time that optimism bit me hardest — Eldred v. Ashcroft. But how many other examples are there, and why don’t I ever learn? The dumbest-fucking-naive-allegedly-smart person you will ever know: that guythought this tragedy would at least shake for one second the facade of certainty that is our government, and allow at least a tiny light of recognition to shine through, and in that tiny ray, maybe a question, a pause, a moment of “ok, we need to look at this carefully.” I wasn’t dumb enough to believe that Ortiz could achieve the grace of Reif. But the single gift I wanted was at least a clumsy, hesitating, “we’re going to look at this carefully, and think about whether mistakes might have been made.”

But oh Lucy, you’ve done it again.

Ortiz’s statement is a template for all that is awful in what we as a political culture have become. And it pushes me — me, the most conventional, wanting-to-believe-in-all-things-patriotic, former teenage Republican from the home of Little League baseball — to a place far more radical than I ever want to be. Ortiz wrote:

As a parent and a sister, I can only imagine the pain felt by the family and friends of Aaron Swartz,

Yes, Ms. Ortiz, you obviously can “only imagine.” Because if you felt it, as obviously as Reif did, it would move you first to listen, and then to think. You’re so keen to prove that you understand this case better than your press releases about Aaron’s “crime” (those issued when Aaron still drew breath) made it seem (“the prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Mr. Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal financial gain”). But if your prosecutors recognized this, then this is the question to answer:

Why was he being charged with 13 felonies?

His motive was political — obviously. His harm was exactly none — as JSTOR effectively acknowledged. But he deserved, your “career prosecutors” believed, to be deprived of his rights as a citizen (aka, a “felon,” no longer entitled to the political rights he fought to perfect) because of what he did.

Yet here’s the thing to remember on MLK weekend (even though my saying this violates a rule I believe in firmly, a kind of inverse to Godwin’s law, because though I believe these two great souls were motivated by exactly the same kind of justice, King’s cause was greater): How many felonies was Martin Luther King, Jr., convicted of? King, whose motives were political too, but who, unlike Aaron, triggered actions which caused real harm. What’s that number?

Zero.

And how many was he even charged with in the whole of his career?

Two. Two bogus charges (perjury and tax evasion) from Alabama, which an all-white jury acquitted him of.

This is a measure of who we have become. And we don’t even notice it. We can’t even see the extremism that we have allowed to creep into our law. And we treat as decent a government official who invokes her family while defending behavior which in part at least drove this boy to his death.

I still dream. It is something that Darrell Issa and Zoe Lofgren are thinking along the same lines. On this anniversary of the success of the campaign to stop SOPA — a campaign which Aaron helped architect — maybe I’m right to be hopeful that even this Congress might do something. We’ll see. Maybe they’ll surprise us. Maybe.

But for now, I need to step away. I apologize for the silence. I am sorry for the replies I will not give. Aaron was wrong about very few things, but he was wrong to take his life. I have to return to mine, and to the amazingly beautiful creatures who are trying to pull me back.

I will always love you, sweet boy. Please find the peace you were seeking. And if you do, please find a way to share that too.

18 January 2013 ·