ATG Hot Topics of the Week 8/1/14

by | Aug 1, 2014 | 0 comments

Erin GallagherBy Erin Gallagher

I’ve been on quite a hiatus, trekking around Hawaii and Iceland for the past few weeks (volcanic island summer, apparently), but now I’m plugged in and back in business.  One thing my travels always teach me:  nowhere is as hot as Florida in July.  Let’s take a look at some of the hot topics brewing about.

It appears that scholarly resource sharing is a dangerous business, at least for the Colombian graduate student researching biodiversity in South America.  You can check out the details here as reported on the Electronic Frontier Foundation site.  The student, Diego Gomez, is being sued as a criminal for sharing another author’s research paper online, violating the author’s rights and Colombia’s obstructive copyright standards.  Gomez’s legal counsel is trying to combat these harsh criminal charges by proving that he did not have malicious or profitable intent.  Anyone who has published highly-specialized scholarly research can chuckle at the idea that posting the article online would somehow undercut the frivolous profits associated with publication (frivolous is italicized for sarcasm).  If it is proven that Gomez did indeed infringe on the author’s rights, the potential prison sentence of four to eight years is a bit much, no?  Is someone like Gomez really the face of criminal activity and scholarly piracy?  Is there a lesson to be learned here that doesn’t have to result in shoring up the prison complex even more?  This story is also representative of a larger issue entirely, which is the lack of access to scholarly research in remote and underdeveloped areas.  Are we really addressing this issue by punishing those who seek to further scholarly communication and curiosity?

In Amazonian news, the leviathan “finally revealed” (is this The Prestige?  What was the Pledge and the Turn?) what was behind their epic battle with Hachette regarding ebook pricing.  Apparently, Amazon always had the best interests of their purchasing public at heart, and they aren’t the greedy giants we were all made to think they were.  In our world of the 24-hour news cycle and increasing media distrust, what are we to believe?  Amazon flashes some impressive numbers that even English majors like me can comprehend.  And who doesn’t want to save money when buying ebooks?  What still seems rotten is why this information, which seems to consist of basic math, had to be kept under wraps until the Hachette/Amazon debate was at supernova level?

If you’re looking for a way to distract yourself online for several hours, check out the newly-digitized texts of Charles Darwin’s Beagle library.  Through various grants and the efforts of several scholarly institutions, the over 400 titles Darwin brought onboard The Beagle on his famed expedition are searchable and viewable.  The images and drawings are particularly spectacular.  Happy viewing, everyone!


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