For sharing a scientific paper, a young researcher faces jail time

“In 2014, Gomez, a wildlife management researcher, ran afoul of US copyright law in what can only be described as the most incidental of ways. Then a master’s student at the University of Quindío in Colombia, Gomez found a thesis in a library that he liked and decided to forward the article to colleagues by sharing it on the website Scribd. That move proved unfortunate. The author of the article claimed that by sharing the paper, Gomez had deprived him of “economic and related rights.”

That assertion is, of course, absurd. The outraged scientist sued under a law governing copyright issues that Colombia created to establish better trade relations with the United States, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which has been advocating on behalf of Gomez. The penalty for the alleged crime: a prison term of as many as eight years. Given that no one was likely to have ever seen the thesis, sitting in a library, and that therefore no one was ever likely to have cited it, it seems like a thank-you note would have been more appropriate than a summons or a cell block.”


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