Aaron Swartz And The Open Access Movement

Aaron Swartz at the Boston Wiki Meetup (Flickr/ragesoss)

Aaron Swartz at the Boston Wiki Meetup in 2009. (Flickr/ragesoss)

In July 2008, Aaron Swartz posted a manifesto online. Here’s some of what it said:

Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations…..We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world… We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.

The news that Swartz took his own life last week sparked expressions of solidarity from those who support the Open Access movement, which, among other things, demands that publicly funded research be made publicly available.

Academics across the world paid tribute to Swartz by posting PDFs of their copyrighted works online. On Twitter, the hashtag #PDFTribute triggered an open and thoughtful debate on copyright, academic work and access.


  • John Willinsky, Stanford University Professor, founder of the Public Knowledge Project and author of “The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship”
  • Bryn Geffert, chief librarian at Amherst College

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