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To: John Smith
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  • Community: Higher Education

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Jul 19,2011

Press Release

The United States Department of Justice announced today the criminal indictment of an individual, Aaron Swartz, on charges related to computer fraud and abuse stemming from his misuse of the JSTOR database. We have been subpoenaed by the United States Attorney’s Office in this case and are fully cooperating. While we cannot comment on this case, we would like to share background information about the incident and about our mission and work with the academic community and the public.

 

What Happened

 

Last fall and winter, JSTOR experienced a significant misuse of our database. A substantial portion of our publisher partners’ content was downloaded in an unauthorized fashion using the network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of our participating institutions. The content taken was systematically downloaded using an approach designed to avoid detection by our monitoring systems.

 

The downloaded content included more than 4 million articles, book reviews, and other content from our publisher partners' academic journals and other publications; it did not include any personally identifying information about JSTOR users.

 

We stopped this downloading activity, and the individual responsible, Mr. Swartz, was identified. We secured from Mr. Swartz the content that was taken, and received confirmation that the content was not and would not be used, copied, transferred, or distributed.

 

The criminal investigation and today’s indictment of Mr. Swartz has been directed by the United States Attorney’s Office. It was the government’s decision whether to prosecute, not JSTOR’s. As noted previously, our interest was in securing the content. Once this was achieved, we had no interest in this becoming an ongoing legal matter.

 

Our Mission and Work

 

Our mission at JSTOR is supporting scholarly work and access to knowledge around the world.  Faculty, teachers, and students at more than 7,000 institutions in 153 countries rely upon us for affordable and in some cases free access to content on JSTOR. Since our founding in 1995, we have digitized the complete back runs of nearly 1,400 academic journals from mroe than 800 publishers. Our ultimate objective is to provide affordable access to scholarly content to anyone who needs it.

 

It is important to note that we support and encourage the legitimate use of large sets of content from JSTOR for research purposes. We regularly provide scholars with access to content for this purpose. Our Data for Research site (http://dfr.jstor.org) was established expressly to support text mining and other projects, and our Advanced Technologies Group is an eager collaborator with researchers in the academic community.

 

Even as we work to increase access, usage, and the impact of scholarship, we must also be responsible stewards of this content. We monitor usage to guard against unauthorized use of the material in JSTOR, which is how we became aware of this particular incident.

 

More information about JSTOR

 

General: http://about.jstor.org/sites/default/files/misc/jstor-factsheet-20120213.pdf
Worldwide Access Facts: http://about.jstor.org/sites/default/files/jstor-demonstrating-impact.pdf

 

For additional information and media inquiries, contact Heidi McGregor, VP, Marketing & Communications at heidi.mcgregor@ithaka.org or (212) 358-6406.

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