Student Could Get 8 Years for Sharing Paper Online
He falls foul of tough Colombian copyright law
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2014 2:05 AM CDT
Updated Aug 3, 2014 12:03 PM CDT
"Sharing is not a crime," Gomez says.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A grad student in Colombia who says he just wanted to help other researchers—and the endangered amphibians they study—could get up to eight years in prison for copyright infringement after sharing a research paper he found online. Diego Gomez, 26, posted the paper on a file-sharing site and is being prosecuted under tough copyright laws introduced as part of Colombia's 2006 free trade agreement with the US, Slate reports. Even though the author was credited and the work was already online, the other academic filed a complaint for "violation of economic rights and related rights," Gomez says in an open letter explaining his plight.

"Today what the vast majority of the country's researchers and conservationists are doing, despite being committed to spreading knowledge, is turning us into criminals," writes Gomez, who says he was shocked to find that knowledge in "biological sciences, which generally do not obey the market logic, is considered similar to software or an artistic work for commercial exploitation." The case shows "the real-life harm of overreaching restrictions due to excessive laws that protect the 'economic rights' of authors," writes Maira Sutton at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Gomez only wanted to share these articles to further his life mission to protect native wildlife and to allow others with a similar passion to access this research. He is only one of countless thousands who risk themselves every day to push against the prohibitive restraints of copyright." (Copyright problems also got this bar owner into $21,000 worth of trouble.)