LETTER: JSTOR monopolizing public knowledge

JSTOR monopolizing public knowledge

Instead of celebrating free access to scholarly articles for alums (“Yale alumni to gain access to JSTOR,” Oct. 11), you should be asking why access to research should be denied to anyone in the digital age.

When a scholar publishes research in an academic journal, neither the author nor the journal editor is typically paid. Yet JSTOR and a handful of other companies that control academic publishing reap millions by charging exorbitant prices for subscriptions to libraries and high per-article fees to individuals not affiliated with those libraries. These paywalls are particularly indefensible since so much of academic research is funded, directly or indirectly, through public funds in the first place.

Your article also states that “freedom of access” activist Aaron Swartz was indicted for “stealing” articles from JSTOR, thus echoing the US Attorney’s characterization of the case: “Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.” Is downloading articles that should be in the public domain in the first place really the equivalent of breaking into someone’s home with a crowbar and stealing their silver? JSTOR didn’t lose its articles. They remain just accessible on their site as before, at least for those with cash or connections.

JSTOR may be a “trusted digital archive,” as your article states, but it also acts as a significant barrier to the dissemination of academic knowledge, something that students, faculty, administrators and alumni should question rather than applaud.

Kelsey Kauffman

Oct. 14

The writer is a 1971 graduate of Trumbull College


  • The Anti-Yale

    *A committed Catholic, Buckley held particular views about homosexuality*

    I doubt that the Pope told him to call Gore Vidal “a queer”in public. It was something more visceral than adherence to *ex cathedra* doctrine.



    I am no foe of Buckley. I dedicated [*Holy Smoke*][1] and its successor *The Anti-Yale* to him, the former of which he kindly acknowledged .

    [1]: http://holysmoke2011.blogspot.com/2011/04/william-f-buckley-jr.html

  • River_Tam

    > publicly purging the conservative movement of opportunistic “states’ rights” advocates, like George Wallace

    By what definition was George Wallace ever a conservative?

  • MapleLeaf14

    River_Tam, you don’t go here anymore. Get a life.

  • yalengineer

    Neither do I. However the opening of these archives needs to be enabled and this opinion is aptly named.

  • River_Tam

    @MapleLeaf14, isn’t the entire point of the JSTOR deal that Yalies are Yalies for life? Or did you miss that during preorientation?

    (I also find it a little odd that you feel the need to follow me around just to tell me to get a life – you’ve used the phrase “get a life” comment against me three times in the past 24 hours alone! Who is more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?)

  • Yale12

    I mean, I agree following you around telling you to get a life is a little weird, but it seems like pretty legitimate advice, given the fact that you clearly have no life.

  • River_Tam

    Of course JSTOR will charge for access to its archive. To them, access is DATA, which can be MONETIZED for the god PROFIT. It is the only god recognized by today’s spiritual vacuums. The altar of data demands not a human sacrifice, but the sacrifice of our HUMANITY.


  • River_Tam

    Would you believe, Yale12, that I do in fact have a life? It’s the reason I can’t be at those dreadfully boring #OccupyWallStreet rallies – I’m too busy occupying a full-time job.

  • Yale12

    Yeah, there’s a full-time job–and then there’s having family and friends to occupy your time when you’re not at said job, instead of posting at least ten times daily, and almost always angrily and bitterly, on the message board of a college you no longer attend. Add to that personally, obsessively and nastily attacking a 19-year-old columnist every time his name is mentioned (and often when it isn’t) … well, it’s pretty pathetic.

  • MapleLeaf14

    Well said, Yale12, well said!

  • attila

    Sometimes it helps to know what you are talking about.

    JSTOR is a non-profit consortium of universities. By making the journals available in PDF format, itt saves their members the cost of storing all the bound volumes, and also allows colleges and universities access to journals they never bought as the journals were published.

    JSTOR charges for access on a sliding scale, so places like Yale in effect subsidize poorer institutions (this should sound familiar to a lot of Yale College students).

    If they made access free to all, where would they get the money they need to scan articles and run their servers? There is no “profit,” there is just the cost of providing the service. Which someone has to pay for.

    Saying “waaaa I want it for free” is childish. If you think it should be free, say who should pay for the costs.

  • River_Tam

    @Yale12 –

    I really have no idea which columnist you’re referring to, and if you look at the times I post, it’s almost entirely during my normal working hours (ie: 7am-7pm). You should try the whole “multitasking” thing. It’s a real trip.