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Re: <nettime> Duke U > Kevin Smith > Some radical thoughts about
Felix Stalder on Sun, 6 Mar 2016 22:52:22 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Duke U > Kevin Smith > Some radical thoughts about

One of the truly amazing aspects of this case is the breadth of
support for the position that what Sci-Hub is doing amounts to
justified civil disobedience.

However get to the root of this, you need to be a bit more "radical"
than this article.

Sure, ignoring foreign copyright has been a strategy of developing
countries for as long as copyright existed. Not just the US ignored
foreign copyright throughout much of the 19th century, also most
catholic countries in Europe were slow enforce foreign copyrights,
that is, that of protestant countries and their much thought after
secular literature. And before that, protestant countries built up
their printing industries by ignoring privileges through which
catholic countries tried to control the spread of enlightenment ideas.
Robert Darnton writes eloquently about "fertile crescent" of pirate
publishers around 18th century France.

The US joined the global copyright framework only in 1976 (with by
way of a major reform of its Copyright Act), at the time when Japan
had risen as an industrial power by the same strategy. A little
later, Taiwan (the "kingdom of piracy" as it was called in the
1980s) and then China basically followed the same approach. India,
until very recently, did something along these lines with respect
to pharmaceutical patents. As the economies moved up the ladder,
governments tended to switch sides to protect their position against
newly developing countries. Perhaps such a "development strategy"
is also in part why Russia is allowing this to happened, but it's
indicative that the argument put forward is a totally different one.

What is now being discussed is less national development, but really
the transformation of the knowledge order as such, reflecting, in
this case, how the demand for scientific knowledge is overflowing
the institutional (western, elite) boundaries that used to be its
exclusive domain. There are numerous trends contributing to this.

Universities are no longer primarily a Western institution but are now
distributed throughout the world. Yet, in most places, they remain
largely under post-colonial conditions. It's the revolt against this
condition that is most openly articulated.

But that does not fully explain the wide support Sci-Hub is receiving
also in the West.

That kind of support, I think, has more to do with the fact that the
increasing commercialization of knowledge allows publishers like
Elesvier to charge monopoly prices. Effectively, they are pricing a
lot of Western second and third tier institutions out of the market
and thus generate a kind of post-colonial condition within. This is
exacerbating fears of marginalization in large segments of academia.

Last but definitely not least, as part of the growth of the, hm,
knowledge economy, the demands for scientific knowledge have spread
outside the academy and formal R&D facilities into society at large.
Ever larger numbers of people need, for their daily work, scientific
knowledge and they constantly bump against a knowledge order that
shuts them out on the basis of their lack of institutional membership.
I presume most nettimers know this from their own experience. But it
also applies to many in the maker movement, people doing their own
health care, environmental work, climate change activism, journalism,
etc. Here, perhaps more clearly than elsewhere, we can see the
conflict between the still existing industrial knowledge economy and
the networked knowledge practices.

Elsevier is actually doing us a favor by being such an arch villain
that makes it easy to build coalitions against. But it's also easy
because everybody, and I guess also Elsevier, knows the game is over.
There's still some money to be earned, and perhaps the price for the
eventual buy-out can be jacked-up a bit, but the good times are coming
to an end for the industrial monopolists.

So, the question is, what will replace it? In the field of scientific
knowledge, the main contender is already up and running, academia.edu,
which tries to suck all of academic publishing into its own
proprietary network.

Will there be alternatives? I don't think Sci-hub will provide it. It
primarily accelerates the transition by breaking the monopoly grip of
the old publishers.

This is why projects like aaaaarg, ubu, monoskop and the others are so
crucial at the moment, because point to different future, different
not only from today's monopolies but also from tomorrows.


On 2016-03-04 18:15, nettime_dusty_librarian wrote:
> < http://blogs.library.duke.edu/scholcomm/author/ksmithl2duke-edu/
> >
> Some radical thoughts about Sci-Hub
> March 3, 2016
> Kevin Smith, J.D.
> Radical, as I like to remind folks, means to get to the root of an 
> issue (same derivation as radish).  So when I say I am offering
> some radical thoughts about Sci-Hub and the controversy it has
> generated, I mean that I hope to use the discussion to ask some
> very basic, "at the roots," questions about copyright, not that I
> intend to shock anyone.


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