Information just wants to be free:
Yesterday, in response to this week’s indictment of a 24-year-old Harvard researcher and Internet activist for allegedly hacking into MIT’s network and collecting nearly five million scholarly articles, a second hacker released more than 18,592 (32 gigabytes) of subscription-only research obtained from the same service. The second man identified himself as Greg Maxwell, a 31-year-old “technologist, recreational mathematician, and scientific hobbyist” from northern Virginia.
As an academic I use these proprietary databases and collections all the time. I wish I did not have to. The accrual of publicly funded knowledge by private organizations is philosophically and ethically repugnant to me. My sympathy and solidarity rest with Messrs Swartz and Maxwell rather than JSTOR or the DA.
I see the point about theft, but can only agree with it if one can reasonably make the claim that the contents of those databases are not already the rightful possession of the public. Given that the public purse pays for a sizeable amount of the research carried out and published in these collections it becomes very difficult to justify the “closed garden” model that continues to exist in academic publishing.