information privilege: access, advocacy, and the critical role of libraries.


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Keynote at the Northwest Interlibrary Loan and Resource Sharing Conference, Portland, OR, September 8 2016.

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information privilege: access, advocacy, and the critical role of libraries.

  1. 1. f r e e d o m
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  18. 18. by Aaron Schwartz July 25, 2016 Roman Kochan Dean ofLibrary Services UniversityLibrary CaliforniaState University 1250 Bellflower Boulevard LongBeach, California 90840-1901 Dear Dean Kochan, -·;..· ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN PUBL SHERS I am disappointed to learnthat a librarian from California State University, Long Beach, Gabriel Gardner, recently praised the notorious pirate site Sci-Hub and recommended that attendees at a session use the site. Mr. Gardperwas a panelist atthe American LibraryAssociation's session "Resource Sharingin Tomorrowland - a Panel Discussion Aboutthe Future ofinterlibrary Loan" at the association's annual conference in Orlando. On the panel he said, essentially, "Try it,you'lllike it." Sci-Hub has been enjoined from further operation as an unlawful enterprise that has committed mass theft of copyrighted material. Sci-Hub should not be equatedwith any legitimate interlibraryloan or open access publishingpractices. Sci-Hub's methods are notbenign;they include illegally accessing the secure computer networks ofa large number ofmajor universities by, among other methods, hijacking "proxy" credentials used to facilitate off- campus remote access to university computer systems and databases. The techniques employed byit to defeat security standards are similar to those employed by other cyber intrusions. These intrusions compromise the security ofcolleges, universities, hospitals, database owners and individuals' personal computers, because Sci- Hub could not only access scientific databases but potentially gain access to proprietary and confidential information ofresearchers, staffand students at compromised universities. As a member ofthe California State University system it is surprisingthat a CSU Long Beach librarian would promote the activities ofan adjudicated thiefwho has compromised universitycomputer systems and databases worldwide. Unfortunately, Sci-Hub supporters invoke academic freedom, freedom ofspeech, freedom ofscientific inquiry, and encouraging universal access to the results ofscientific research to justifythe theft ofintellectual property. Such rationalizations do not in myopinionjustify providingpublic encouragementfor unquestionablyillegal activity to institutions and the scholarly communication system. I believe such public encouragementfrom one ofyourlibrarians is inconsistentwith the university library's mission and its leadership in support ofscientific research. Sincerely, THOMAS H. ALLEN PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER 455 MASSACHUSETTS AVE NW, SUITE 700 WASHINGTON, DC 20001 PHONE {202) 347-3375 WWW.PUBLISHERS.ORG 71 FIFTH AVE, 2ND FLOOR NEW YORK, NY 10003 PHONE {212} 255-0200 WWW.PUBLISHERS.ORG I I.£ ::: ,, .... ::. - . '"''."- , • ....J. ' v ""' "•· "ffe CALIFORNIA STATE UNlVERSlTY, LONG BEACH Aug. 1,2016 Thomas H. Allen President and Chief Executive Officer Association of American Publishers 455 Massachusetts Ave. NW Suite 700 Washington, D.C. 20001 Dear Mr. Allen, UN I VERSITY LI BRA RY Thank you for your letter regarding Mr. Gardner, but I believe your strident criticism of him is based on some fundamental factual inaccuracies. Gabriel Gardner, a faculty member at California State University Long Beach, along with his co-author Carolyn Caffrey Gardner, a faculty member at California State University Dominguez Hills, were on an American Library Association (ALA) panel on the future of interlibrary loan in June because of their research that was published in a 2016 article in College & Research Libraries, a major-and open access- journal in the field of library science. Their article, "Fast and Furious (at Publishers): The Motivations behind Crowdsourced Research Sharing," is based on a survey of users of peer-to-peer research-sharing services on the frequency of, and the motivations behind, their use of these services. They conclude that these services "go beyond document delivery to the legal bedrock that is our current copyright and intellectual property systems." So, contrary to your allegations that the researchers provided "public encouragement" of services such as Sci- Hub, their research points out the very real problems with this type of crowdsourcing. To be clear, neither Mr. Gardner, the University Library, nor the University promote or condone illegal activity, particularly copyright violation. Instead, Mr. Gardner's research points out problems faced by libraries, researchers, and publishers and how some researchers are enabling websites such as Sci-Hub to circumvent the measures taken by libraries to uphold their copyright licenses. Freedom of research is fundamental to academia and to your industry. As you say on your website, AAP "invest[s] in the ideas and careers of our authors and scholars, providing support and protecting their rights, so they can share their unique perspectives with the world." That is exactly what Mr. Gardner was, and is, doing with his research, which the university wholeheartedly endorses. Besides the legal cautions in the C&RL article, Mr. Gardner has been quoted on #icanhazPDF, and in the 2015 Conference Proceedings of the Association of College & Research Libraries as saying that such peer-to-peer sharing is "ethically dubious" and "often violate[s) commercial database terms-of-service (ToS) and/ or copyright." Specifically, regarding the ALA annual conference panel, " Resource Sharing in Tomorrowland a Panel Discussion about the Future of Interlibrary Loan," your paraphrase of Mr. Gardner's statements is taken very much out of context. If you listen to the recording of his presentation, he says that Sci-Hub's actions are " massive piracy" and "totally illegal." To an audience of librarians, he was suggesting that librarians need to try the service to see how easily Interlibrary Loan and authentication systems can be bypassed. However, the larger issue here is that the academic publishing model has become unsustainable. Like many university libraries, the library budgets at California State University Long Beach and the California State 1250 BELLFLOWER BOULEVARD. MS- 1901 · LONG BEACH. CALIFORNIA 90840-1901 · 562/ 985-8472 · FAX 562/985-1703
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