[Irtalk] In Solidarity with Library Genesis and Sci-hub

Hilton Gibson hilton.gibson at gmail.com
Thu Dec 3 16:01:42 SAST 2015

In Antoine de Saint Exupéry's tale the Little Prince meets a businessman
who accumulates stars with the sole purpose of being able to buy more
stars. The Little Prince is perplexed. He owns only a flower, which he
waters every day. Three volcanoes, which he cleans every week. "It is of
some use to my volcanoes, and it is of some use to my flower, that I own
them," he says, "but you are of no use to the stars that you own".

There are many businessmen who own knowledge today. Consider Elsevier, the
largest scholarly publisher, whose 37% profit margin1 stands in sharp
contrast to the rising fees, expanding student loan debt and poverty-level
wages for adjunct faculty. Elsevier owns some of the largest databases of
academic material, which are licensed at prices so scandalously high that
even Harvard, the richest university of the global north, has complained
that it cannot afford them any longer.

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