Erik Ringmar, professor of social and cultural studies at the National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan, wants others to join him in putting restricted government documents on the web.
I say this is awesome! There’s certainly precedent for this kind of activism: Jared Benedict liberated a bunch of USGS maps and just last week, I uploaded the Iraqi Perspectives Report to the Internet Archive. Anyone else out there set free a government document? Leave us a comment.
So, I’ve taken it upon myself to start an organisation called MLOP, the “Movement for the Liberation of Old Papers”. What I do is hack into restricted websites, download the documents I’m interested in, and then use my favourite open-source paint program to remove the copyright statements from each page. Next I assemble the pages into one single pdf file and upload it to the Internet Archive, where it will become universally available to both researchers and citizens. Yes, it does take a bit of time, but it’s a very worthy cause (and I have a hardworking research assistant to help me).
I feel strongly about this, and I’m prepared to live with the legal consequences of my actions. This, after all, is the new frontier of civil rights – the right of access to information. How else can corruption be stopped and falsehoods exposed? How else can people in power be held accountable? I’d go to prison for the old parliamentary papers if I had to. Ever after I would proudly brag about having liberated an old House of Commons report from the clutches of market capitalism.
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