Columbia strengthened their copyright laws were strengthened in 2006, basically at U.S. demands as part of a free trade agreement.
As a result, according to Nature News Blog,Diego Gómez Hoyos , a Columbian student, faces jail time for posting someone elses thesis on Scribd.
In the U.S., of course, ‘grey’ sharing of copyrighted scholarly work without permission is fairly routine. We call it ‘grey’ only because everyone does it, and so far publishers in the U.S. have shown little inclination to stop it, when it’s being done amongst scholars on a one-by-one basis — not because it’s legal in the U.S. If you google (scholar) search recent scholarly publications, you can quite frequently find ‘grey’ publically accessible copies on the public internet, including on Scribd.
What is done routinely by scholars in the U.S. and ignored, gets you a trial and possible jail time in Columbia — because of laws passed to satisfy the U.S. in ‘free trade’ agreements. This case may start going around the facebooks as “copyright out of control”, and it is that, but it’s also about how neo-colonialism is alive and well, what’s good for the metropole isn’t good for the periphery, and ‘free trade’ agreements are never about equality.
Student may be jailed for posting scientist’s thesis on web
Posted on behalf of Michele Catanzaro
A Colombian biology student is facing up to 8 years in jail and a fine for sharing a thesis
by another scientist on a social network.
Diego Gómez Hoyos posted the 2006 work, about amphibian taxonomy, on Scribd in 2011. An undergraduate at the time, he had hoped that it would help fellow students with their fieldwork. But two years later, in 2013, he was notified that the author of the thesis was suing him for violating copyright laws. His case has now been taken up by the Karisma Foundation, a human rights organization in Bogotá, which has launched a campaign called “Sharing is not a crime”.
Gómez says that he deleted the thesis from the social network as soon as he was notified of the legal proceedings. But the case against him is rolling on, with the most recent hearing taking place in Bogotá in May. He faces between 4 and 8 years in jail if found guilty. The next hearing will be in September.
The student, who is currently studying for a master’s degree in conservation of protected areas at the National University of Costa Rica in Heredia, refuses to reveal who is suing him. He says he does not want to “put pressure on this person”. “My lawyer has tried unsuccessfully to establish contacts with the complainant: I am open to negotiate and get to an agreement to move this issue out of the criminal trial,” he told Nature.
The case has left Gómez feeling disappointed. “I thought people did biology for passion, not for making money,” he says. “Now other scientists are much more circumspect [about sharing publications].”