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Sunday, January 13, 2013

JSTOR announces release of 4.5 million documents

In a bizarre twist the same week Open Library architect and Internet activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide, digital library company JSTOR has agreed to release millions of documents free to the public which have been produced by America's colleges and universities.

Swartz faced a $1 million dollar fine and 35 years in jail if convicted of downloading data from JSTOR and allegedly hanged himself in his apartment on January 11.  The investigation and suit were being leveled by the U.S. government.

Excerpts from Swartz's family statement:
"Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge.

"Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles."

Claiming that "A new chapter begins" on its website, JSTOR offers scholarly journals, primary sources, and 15,000 books, to individual and institutional researchers, librarians, and publishers.

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