Final arguments in the case against Diego Gomez will be presented on August 10. Gomez is a Colombian graduate student who shared an academic paper without permission online and received a criminal copyright complaint from the author. If convicted, Gomez faces a 4-8 year prison sentence and a significant monetary fine. Over the last year, we’ve highlighted this case as an example of overly harsh copyright penalties for minor violations.
Diego’s predicament elicits many questions. Why is a student being prosecuted for sharing knowledge? Does his potential punishment fit the crime? Can we claim to support the noble practices of teaching, learning, and scientific inquiry while permitting our laws to harshly punish the sharing of information? His case is another example of copyright overreach, where rights holders can unfairly leverage the law so that even a minor violation leads to major negative repercussions for both the individual involved, and society as a whole.
We need to reform these laws in order to truly empower researchers to use digital technologies and the web to promote scientific discovery and information exchange. In addition to legal reform, we need open licensing policies that flip the default from “closed” to “open”. By supporting open access to scholarly research, we can create an environment that promotes and rewards sharing and collaboration.
Stand up to support Diego. Please sign the petition and join over 35,000 people who stand together to promote open access worldwide.