Archivo de la categoría: English

From the situation I face, I highlight the support I have received from so many people in Colombia and worldwide.

October 14th, 2014

The use of FLOSS was my first approach to the open source world. Many times I could not access ecological or statistical software, nor geographical information systems, despite my active interest in using them to make my first steps in research and conservation. As a student, it was impossible for me to cover the costs of the main commercial tools. Today, I value access to free software such as The R project and QGis project, which keep us away from proprietary software when one does not have the budget for researching.

But it was definitely since facing a criminal prosecution for sharing information on the Internet for academic purposes, for ignoring the rigidity of copyright law, that my commitment to support initiatives promoting open access and to learn more about ethical, political, and economic foundations has been strengthened.

I am beginning my career with the conviction that access to knowledge is a global right. The first articles I have published in journals have been under Creative Commons licenses. I use free or open software for analyzing. I also do my job from a social perspective as part of my commitment and as retribution for having access to public education in both Colombia and Costa Rica.

From the situation I face, I highlight the support I have received from so many people in Colombia and worldwide. Particularly, I thank the valuable support of institutions working for our freedom in the digital world. Among them I would like to acknowledge those institutions that have joined the campaign called “Let’s stand together to promote open access worldwide”: EFF, Fundación Karisma, Creative Commons, Internet Archive, Knowledge Ecology International, Open Access Button, Derechos Digitales, Open Coalition, Open Knowledge, The Right to Research Coalition, Open Media, Fight for the Future, USENIX, Public Knowledge and all individuals that have supported the campaign.

If open access was the default choice for publishing scientific research results, the impact of these results would increase and cases like mine would not exist. There would be no doubt that the right thing is to circulate this knowledge, so that it should serve everyone.

Thank you all for your support.
Diego A. Gómez Hoyos

Cycle of Licenciatones Creative Commons #Sharingisnotacrime

ciclo-licenciatonesThis is an invitation for all of us to license our works and allow them to circulate freely and safely online because I am convinced that “sharing is not a crime”

We will meet in cities across the country in what we call national cycle of Licenciatones Creative Commons #Sharingisnotacrime. The Licenciatón is a day of awareness, learning and practice of open licensing and its relationship to free culture. A meeting to discuss the importance of sharing in the digital world in the light of restrictive copyright laws trends, and to clear the cloud of questions that are assembled on our heads when we talk about these laws.

Let’s talk about sharing knowledge!

During licenciatón the Creative Commons Colombia and some associated groups, will explain how to choose a Creative Commons license that fits the permissions you want to give about your artistic creations, all academics or creative works, while we resolve doubts around a radio program.

Bring your digital  work and mobile device:

  • + Texts
  • + Photos
  • + Academic works
  • + Audios
  • + Short
  • + Blogs
  • + Lyrics and mixtures

This cycle of licenciatones is done with the help of Web We Want Organization, as a support to all those who keep saying #Sharingisnotacrime.

Come to Licenciatón adopt a CC license and release your content!

We will meet in Cali, Bogota, Popayan, Medellin and Armenia.

In Popayan:

  • Date: Monday, August 25
  • Time: 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Location: Founders Hall and the living systems of the School of Santo Domingo, Universidad del Cauca (Popayán).
  • Free admission.

In Medellin:

  • Date: Tuesday, August 26
  • Time: 7:15 P.M.
  • Location: Alambique
  • Free admission. Upon registration here.
  • Invite: Alambique +Lo Doy Porque Quiero

In Cali:

  • Date: Thursday, August 28
  • Time: 10AM to 1PM
  • Location: Icesi University, Circulation Corridor, Building C.
  • Free admission
  • Invite: + Icesi University, Faculty of Engineering – Department of Design + Radio Relajo.

Can not get there? We will be alive thorught

Soon we will have the information about Bogota and Armenia.

Let keep saying #Sharingisnotacrime

Organizers: Creative Commons Colombia + Karisma Foundation

Support: We Want Web



Read my story (english)

diego_2 My name is Diego Gomez and with 26 years old I have defined my great passion in life: the biodiversity conservation. Enjoying this passion, I have attained a BA in biology from the University of Quindío.

Currently, I study a Masters in Conservation and Wildlife Management in Costa Rica, and I have worked in research and preservation projects on endangered Colombian amphibians with local, national and international NGOs. This journey is just beginning. Despite the support of many institutions, teachers and researchers, it has not been entirely easy. What I have achieved so far I attribute it to the merits of my volunteering work, and my persistence in desiring and achieving to do research from the province, far from the large academic centers in Bogota and all major cities of the country.

Studying science (including biological sciences) from the province represents a higher level of difficulty, mainly because libraries and newspaper archives are small and they do not have the resources to pay the thousands of dollars for accessing specialized books and world’s major bibliographic databases; this circumstance limits the right to access to knowledge for students, researchers and professors who are in these regions. Not to mention that the museums or biological collections are quite scarce, to which is added that many university professors do not have a PhD as expected by their students.

Despite these restrictions, I learned about amphibians in Colombia through self-study and advice given by some professors from other universities, because at that time the University of Quindío did not have any herpetologists (those who study amphibians and reptiles). To access natural history museums, I used to save as much as I could in order to make trips to Bogota, where museums and larger biological collections are located. With a lot of effort, I managed to overcome all these difficulties and eventually I acquired books –gifts from my family or professors–, and copies of scientific articles that the world’s most renowned amphibian researchers hold in their personal libraries. In addition, along with some classmates and professors, we began a study group on amphibians and reptiles at the university, dreaming that at some point it would become a research group.

With the study group activated, the lack of funding for research did not stop us. In fact, we had a significant participation of young biology students. To prevent them from getting discouraged, I put all my effort to motivate them by sharing my experiences. First, through keynote presentations, I helped them to know basics concepts related to amphibians’ study and conservation to cope with the lack of books in the library. After the completion of my thesis and while working as a volunteer for one of the world’s most important conservation programs (Conservation Leadership Programme), as well as consulting for Wildlife Conservation Society, I began to advise some group member on their amphibian studies or researches. In addition, I connected some students with conservation projects that I used to carry out in the region voluntarily. Throughout this process, we realized that beyond the lack of specialized professors, museums and even funding of projects, one of the biggest obstacles we had was getting access to basic research information conducted in Colombia: for preserving, we have to know what to preserve and this is identified on previous research.

Internet was one of our main partners in this passionate search and study process for conservation. This tool decreased the gap between our position as students and future researchers from a provincial university, and major universities and research centers in Bogota and other cities. Through Internet, we requested and accessed the information needed to present our research and conservation projects, to define preservation objects, to publish our findings and to contribute to all students or young researchers who faced the same problems. That gap persists despite that the elitism in these disciplines has been overcome in appearance.

Internet, that increasingly useful tool in our lives that gives us access to knowledge, was the support for a few steps down the road for biodiversity conservation research. However, sharing knowledge on the Internet is jeopardizing the career I’m starting to build with great effort. With the spreading of Internet, sharing knowledge through the web quickly became a daily practice among academic circles. As usual among my colleagues, I shared with them documents and information considered relevant for our scientific interests. Assuming that I shared knowledge as an act of good faith, in gratitude for all the support I had received from other researchers in Colombia and other countries, and voluntarily for academic purposes and non-profit, I never imagined that this activity could be considered a crime.

Sharing is not a crime. Surely for those who do not know what have happened to me, sharing still is something inherent to our social and community practices; it is not associated with a crime. In the academia in general, and in such specialized field as the one I work, the important thing is to make a correct citation, attributing researchers’ work by indicating their name and year of publication and, of course, not claiming the work of another researcher, but to recognize it and value it. Therefore, what we usually do is to reference the findings and make them available to those who need them.

Three years ago, through a Facebook group in which I participated along with many others interested in the amphibian and reptile studies, I came across with a master’s thesis that was crucial to identify some amphibians I found in my field visits to some protected areas in the country. To access this information, it was necessary to travel to a library in Bogota. At that time, however, I thought it was something that could be of interested for other groups, so I shared it on the web. Although I was not the first or the only one (the document was in several sites already), for sharing knowledge –recognizing the authorship–, now the author advances a criminal case against me for “violation of economic rights and related rights.” I was told that this could result in jail sentence of 4 to 8 years.

In a few months my life has changed. Now I’m learning about hearings, accusations, lawsuits and lawyers; I am very concerned and puzzled. Above all, I’m disconcerted that this activity I did for academic purposes may be considered a crime, turning me into a “criminal.” 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.

Today I am surprised that what is essential to the research and conservation (sharing knowledge) can be considered a crime. Today I am surprised that research and generated knowledge on natural history, taxonomy, systematics, ecology and other fields of biological sciences, which generally do not obey the market logic, is considered similar to software or an artistic work for commercial exploitation; a passion has been transformed into a market instrument. I can understand that for publishers, academic publications are market instruments, but I’m surprised that some biological sciences researchers also consider impertinent, especially illegal, that others disseminate their work without seeking profit. The work we shared on the Internet and the charge brought against me was the result of a graduate study course from the most renowned public university in Colombia. If I’m not mistaken, researchers are interested in disseminating those contributions we have made to science, and, with greater justification, when they have been generated from a public institution.

I believe my case is not unique. However, I may end up in jail even if I’m convinced that “sharing is not a crime.” We are not criminals for sharing knowledge, for researching, for contributing with our efforts for the conservation of our biodiversity and the growth of science in Colombia. What do you think?