March 29, 2013, 5:04 pm
The Society for Scholarly Publishing has removed two blog posts about a legal battle between a scholarly publisher and a librarian after a lawyer representing the publisher threatened to sue the society.
The posts were written by Rick Anderson, a librarian at the University of Utah, for The Scholarly Kitchen, a blog published by the society, which is a nonprofit organization of publishers, printers, librarians, and editors. In the posts, Mr. Anderson discussed a lawsuit filed by Edwin Mellen Press against Dale Askey, a librarian at McMaster University, in Ontario, and against the university itself.
Mr. Askey and McMaster were sued for more than $3-million by the press after the librarian wrote a blog post criticizing the publisher in 2010. The press dropped the lawsuit in early March. A separate lawsuit, filed by the press’s founder, Herbert Richardson, against Mr. Askey,…
March 19, 2013, 1:43 pm
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced on Tuesday that it would voluntarily release documents related to the prosecution of the open-access activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide in January. In a letter to the MIT community, L. Rafael Reif, the university’s president, explained that the decision was in response to a motion, filed by Mr. Swartz’s estate in federal court in Boston, that demands the release of any public information concerning the case.
“At MIT we believe in openness, and we are not afraid to examine our own actions,” Mr. Reif wrote.
At the time of his death, Mr. Swartz, 26, was facing up to 35 years in prison after he allegedly used a laptop hidden in an MIT closet in 2011 to make unauthorized downloads of more than four million scholarly articles from the nonprofit journal archive JSTOR. He was accused of downloading the materials with the…
March 12, 2013, 3:29 pm
Harvard University (Photo by Daniel Loiselle)
The revelation that Harvard University secretly looked at the e-mail inboxes of 16 resident deans in the wake of last year’s cheating scandal has led to outrage among some of its professors, with prominent faculty members taking to the Internet to vent their frustrations.
But what expectations of privacy should university employees have when it comes to their work e-mail accounts?
From a strictly legal standpoint, employees generally do not have a right to privacy when using their employers’ computers or e-mail services, legal experts say. Individual policies may offer some protections, but there is nothing illegal about an employer’s reading e-mail messages sent through its own systems or networks.
The criticism at Harvard thus focuses not on privacy laws…
March 8, 2013, 3:54 pm
A free-textbook company that was sued last year by three major textbook publishers has now rewritten the content it was accused of stealing.
Pearson, Cengage Learning, and Macmillan Higher Education filed a joint complaint in March 2012 against the company, known as Boundless. The publishers asserted that the way Boundless creates its textbooks violates their copyrights. In a process called “alignment,” students select the traditional text they need, and Boundless pulls together open content to create free versions of the books.
The publishers say the resulting products too closely mirror the original texts, specifically the way the new books are organized. Matt Oppenheim, a lawyer representing the publishers, said Boundless was simply stealing the substance of his clients’ textbooks.
“They were stripping out the entirety of a book’s structure and organization, topic by to…
March 4, 2013, 3:03 pm
[Updated (3/4/2013, 5:11 p.m.) with reaction from McMaster University and from Dale Askey.]
Edwin Mellen Press said on Monday that it would drop a lawsuit against a university librarian whom it had sued for writing a blog post critical of the publisher. Critics have called the lawsuit an attack on academic freedom.
The press had sued Dale Askey, a librarian at McMaster University, in Ontario, and the Canadian university in the Ontario Superior Court, seeking more than $3-million in damages for the post, in which Mr. Askey referred to the publisher as “dubious” and said its books were often works of “second-class scholarship.”
In a separate action, the press’s founder, Herbert W. Richardson, sued Mr. Askey for $1-million for personal remarks made in the blog’s comment section. It is not clear whether that lawsuit will also be dropped.
News of the lawsuits sparked a…
February 8, 2013, 3:00 pm
In September 2010, Dale Askey, now a librarian at McMaster University, in Ontario, published a blog post titled “The Curious Case of Edwin Mellen Press,” in which he called the Edwin Mellen Press “a dubious publisher.” For a few months afterward, several people chimed in in the blog’s comments section, some agreeing with Mr. Askey, some arguing in support of the American publisher.
In June 2012, Edwin Mellen Press’s founder, Herbert Richardson, issued a notice of action to Mr. Askey, suing him for more than $1-million. That same day, the press issued a similar notice of action to Mr. Askey and McMaster University, telling them that they were being sued for libel and seeking damages of $3-million.
The lawsuit, filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, came to light this week when Leslie Green, a philosophy-of-law professor at the University of Oxford, mentioned the…
January 25, 2013, 10:58 am
Photo by Martin Reisch
A Montreal student who was expelled after discovering a security flaw in his college’s computer system is now engaged in a public war of words with the administration, as he tries to persuade it to remove the expulsion from his academic record.
Hamed Al-Khabaz, 20, said he found what he suspected was a vulnerability in the system at Dawson College in September, while he and another computer-science student were working on a mobile app. The system, called Omnivox, is used by nearly 100 colleges and more than 200,000 students in Canada.
When the pair began prying into the flaw, they received an e-mail from the college’s information-technology department, explaining that they needed permission to run the software they were using on the system. After e-mailing back to ask for consent,…
January 14, 2013, 3:23 pm
The home page of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was disabled on Sunday evening by the notorious hacker group Anonymous, hours after the university’s president announced an investigation into MIT’s role in a criminal case against the Internet activist Aaron H. Swartz, who committed suicide on Friday.
The attack was part of an outcry against MIT and prosecutors who were seeking to punish Mr. Swartz for what he considered cyberactivism. The 26-year-old programmer was facing up to 35 years in prison after he allegedly used a laptop hidden in an MIT closet in 2011 to make unauthorized downloads of more than four million scholarly articles from the nonprofit journal archive JSTOR.
He was accused of downloading the materials with the intention of uploading the documents to the Internet and making them freely available, according to a federal indictment. The criminal case…
December 18, 2012, 2:18 pm
’Tis the season to reflect on the biggest trends in technology. Rather than looking back, though, we’re thinking about emerging leaders and the ideas they’re advocating.
In 2013 we plan to publish another list of top technology innovators in higher education, a follow-up to a popular feature we published last February. And again we need your help in finding the most interesting and influential people to profile.
You can find details on the nomination form below. Please share your suggestions and spread the word to colleagues.
Last year readers made more than 100 nominations, some of whom appeared on our list. Others ended up being featured in Chronicle articles later in the year. We also compiled the profiles, along with essays from each of the innovators, into an e-book, Rebooting the Academy.
Update: The deadline for submitting nominations was Friday, January 4, 2013,…
September 18, 2012, 4:29 pm
A well-known computer programmer and activist who allegedly downloaded millions of files from JSTOR, a nonprofit journal archive, now faces nine additional felony charges from federal prosecutors in an indictment issued last week.
The new charges are the latest in the unusual saga of the programmer, Aaron Swartz, who was first charged in July 2011 on four felony counts for allegedly abusing computer networks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and disrupting JSTOR’s servers. Mr. Swartz was arrested on January 6 after allegedly tapping into MIT’s network to download more than 4.8 million academic articles and files from JSTOR. The new charges came in the form of a “superseding indictment” that built on the earlier charges.
Mr. Swartz’s defense lawyer, Martin G. Weinberg, said his client planned to plead not guilty to the new charges, which include several counts of…