[open-science] UK text mining exception: sci-hub

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Sat Jul 9 13:11:11 UTC 2016

On Sat, Jul 9, 2016 at 1:27 PM, Jackson da Silva Medeiros <
jackson.medeiros at ufrgs.br> wrote:

> Let me put my 50 cents problematization: So, if I have cable TV, and I pay
> for that, and I like to watch Simpsons at night... But, I got a dinner with
> friends and, DAMN IT!, I lost the best Simpsons episode ever... If I get
> home and download the episode from a torrent, am I a lawbreaker?
> Just curiosity by analogy.

Analogy does not work in the law. You have to know the law, not guess what
it ought to be.

Unfortunately copyright is not the only law that we must be aware of. There
are also laws which forbid crawling and the circumvention of Technical
Prevention Measures (e.g. DRM) such as CFAA:

"The CFAA is the federal anti-hacking law. Among other things, this law
makes it illegal to intentionally access a computer without authorization
or in excess of authorization; however, the law does not explain what
"without authorization" actually means. The statute does attempt to define
"exceeds authorized access," but the meaning of that phrase has been
subject to considerable dispute. While the CFAA is primarily a criminal law
intended to reduce the instances of malicious hacking, a 1994 amendment to
the bill allows for civil actions to be brought under the statute.

for particularly problematic cases see

which includes
The CFAA has been used to indict a MySpace user for adding false
information to her profile <https://www.wired.com/2008/05/myspace-indictm/>,
to convict a non-programmer of “hacking,”
to convict an IT administrator of deleting files he was authorized to access
and to send a dozen FBI agents to the house of a computer security
researcher with their guns drawn
Yet federal charges were brought
<https://www.wired.com/2013/03/att-hacker-gets-3-years/> against someone
who was *downloading publicly available Web pages*.

It is very unclear what falls under the law and it's probably determined to
a large degree by the efforts of the various lawyers in the case.

Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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