[Open-access] Nominations now open for the first MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award

Peter Murray-Rust peter.murray.rust at googlemail.com
Thu Mar 9 14:39:16 UTC 2017

I think civil disobedience generally involves breaking laws - usually
unjust laws - although some protests will breal normal laws to make their
point. I wrote about this 6 years ago in the context of the (then alive)


In this I show the example of Kathleen Lonsdale, a pre-eminent scientist
and first female FRS, who went to prison during WW2 for her Quaker pacifist
beliefs. In the same tradition are the women of Greenham Common who
demonstrated against nuclear weapon bases. The disobedience was often
symbolic - cutting the wire and entering the base but doing minimal actual
harm. Similarly the suffragettes broke public order laws - they couldn't
break laws directly related to voting.

So I think civil disobedience almost always involves breaking some law. It
is unclear which law in which countries Aleksandra may have broken. They
are likely to be civil rather than criminal laws (unless it is also cast as
a terrorist or cyber crime). I have legal advice that anyone supporting
Aleksandra or recommending the use of Sci-Hub might be accused of
"incitement to commit a felony" and that this is often a *criminal* offence.

So it think it is highly probable that some prosecutors in this area would
call for a jail sentence and that this would qualify as civil disobedience.


On Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 12:18 PM, Bjoern Brembs <b.brembs at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Thursday, March 9, 2017, 12:58:46 PM, you wrote:
> > In that sense I think organisations like the Public
> > Knowledge Project, Creative Commons or the Open Knowledge
> > Foundation are way more deserving or an award like this
> > because their mission has been to transform how most of us
> > do things, not finding quick avenues to circumvent the oppression of the
> > paywall.
> There cannot be any doubt that these organizations are doing an admirable
> job in pushing for the permanent removal of paywalls. But if there are any
> awards to be handed out, shouldn't the first ones go to individuals or
> organizations who have actually accomplished something?
> But maybe there is also a class of consolation awards for effort? :-)
> > I just find that [ironic] the organisation that did not
> > stand by Aaron Swartz is offering this prize.
> That is indeed ironic - a sign of a bad conscience?
> Bjoern
> --
> Björn Brembs
> ---------------------------------------------
> http://brembs.net
> Neurogenetics
> Universität Regensburg
> Germany

Peter Murray-Rust
Reader Emeritus University of Cambridge +44-1223-763069
ContentMine Ltd
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