Costa Rica, December 15, 2017
More than four years ago, I received an official statement from the prosecutor’s office. It announced that an investigation was opened against me for suspected copyright infringement. At that moment I began reviewing my life looking for any floss or unlawful action that deserved the 8 years in prison that were promised if the prosecutor’s office found me guilty. Everything I had done was thinking in the common good, without harming anyone.
Despite being sure of my innocence, I had to face a long judicial process and dealt with the Colombian copyright legislation. And all because I thought sharing knowledge on the Internet —without making profit, with purely academic purposes, and respecting authorship— couldn’t be considered a crime.
Thanks to the support of family, friends, colleagues and especially to the team of the Karisma Foundation, we started the campaign #SharingIsNotACrime, that resonated worldwide, while catching the attention of different sectors of the Colombian society. The campaign managed to integrate all the necessary support to face this criminal process and get me absolved. A ruling in favor in the first instance and the confirmation by the Court of Bogota, allow me today to remain at liberty. Furthermore, this decision is a great precedent for the practice of sharing knowledge online without criminalizing it.
During the course of this distressing process, very important things happened in my life. My beautiful daughter Lia was born, I did a master’s degree in wildlife conservation, and confirmed my vocation as an researcher. I also undertook several trips as a representative of open access.
It has not been easy to grow personally and professionally in the middle of such a stressful situation. However, I decided this judicial case was not going to be a burden, instead, it would be a reason to grow, and to do everything I could so no one else had to go through these sort of unfair processes in the future.
I am deeply grateful for all the support that different people and organizations have shown during this time.
I appreciate the great defense work carried out by lawyers Germán Realpe, Claudio Zambrano, and Luis Bernardo Alzate, along with the forensic technician Daniel Torres. I would like to highlight the support provided by EFF, Web We Want, Creative Commons, Right to Research Coalition, SPARC, Derechos Digitales, Open Access Button and Communia. As well as to all the people who supported the crowdfunding campaign Compartir no es delito: Sharing Is Not A Crime, thanks to their contributions we were able to cover the costs of my defense.
Thank you to those who created activities to collect funds and to those who told their friends and family about my case. Spreading the word was incredibly valuable.
For those in Colombia, I invite you to act. Our country’s copyright law needs to meet international standards which use the criminal system as the last resource in copyright infringement, and only sanctions intentional actions, for-profit and on a commercial scale.
The Colombian law is currently being modified, and people are already speaking up. For instance, in order to draw the attention of Congress more than 30 Colombian academics have signed a letter that explains the problems of using the penal code to sanction daily behaviors for academics in digital environments.
Currently, the Senate Bill 146-17 (that will reform the legal framework of copyright) is under discussion in Congress. The first version of the letter was delivered to the Congress of the Republic today, December 15, 2017. However, it remains open to signatures by sending an email to email@example.com
Again, thank you very much for all your support. Let’s continue sharing knowledge because sharing is not a crime.
Diego Gómez Hoyos