Crowdfunding campaign seeks to help Diego Gómez, a Colombian conservation biologist prosecuted for sharing a research online

2017-06-12 Leer en voz alta

Karisma Foundation, a Colombian civil society organization, is launching a crowdfunding campaign to support Diego Gómez, a biologist accused of copyright infringement for sharing a scientific research online.

When he was a college student at Universidad del Quindío, Diego uploaded a thesis from a colleague at Universidad Nacional de Colombia on the document platform Scribd (citing the author’s name). He also shared it with several of his peers in social media.

Although the maximum penalty for the crime was 8 years, on May 24 Diego was acquitted in the first instance, by proving that the document was already available online, and he did not receive financial benefit from it nor had he the intention of harming to the author. His intention was sharing knowledge, that was all. However, the first instance ruling has been challenged on appeal before the Tribunal de Bogota so the process continues.

“The decision of the judge is an important step that guides Colombian criminal justice towards international standards where this measure is reserved only for piracy. This case must spark a serious debate over the necessity of Open Access. We celebrate that justice was made in an absurd case that could have set a bad precedent for access to knowledge in Colombia,” said Carolina Botero, director of Fundación Karisma, about Diego’s acquittal.

Since 2014, the Fundación Karisma has provided advice to Diego and, along with several allied organizations, launches a crowdfunding campaign in order to help him in this new stage of the process.

What do we expect from this campaign?

The goal is to raise USD $40,000 during 4 weeks of campaigning. With this money, Karisma expects to cover the financial costs related to the appeal process on behalf of Diego and to seek legal ways to prevent cases like Diego’s from happen again. Likewise, the production of a case study, whose aim is to tell the story of Diego, and show the need for Open Access to knowledge will be covered. Finally, we expect to cover Diego’s accommodation and transportation when needed, so that he can take part in the appeal process and a case study production. He currently works at a natural reserve in Costa Rica so traveling is expensive.

The persecution of Diego is another example of the disproportionate consequences of copyright infringement in the digital age. Why are prosecuting students for sharing knowledge? That is not right, and we must take action.

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María Juliana Soto.
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