On Monday, The New York Times published a letter to the editor from SIIA in a spotlight titled, “Sharing Knowledge for a Price.” This letter was in response to an article that ran in the times titled “Should All Research Be Free?”
Concerning research papers, many believe that the public has a right to access and pursue knowledge while at the same time giving little consideration to the copyrights involved. Copyright enforcement is critical in the protection of quality content. As SIIA's Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Mark MacCarthy, writes in his letter to the editor,
“The Times itself exemplifies that copyright enforcement is critical to protect quality content. In the same way that Times articles have infinitely more credibility than anonymous blog postings — so much so that more than a million people pay for access — articles in peer-reviewed journals reflect the application of stringent editorial standards and substantial publisher investment.”
Unfortunately, ignoring the importance of copyrights by stealing and illegally accessing papers has damaging results as it undermines the economic incentive to continue producing content which may be used for a wide variety of purposes, including educational, medical, or scientific purposes.
Indeed, while it is certainly important for the public to have access to research papers, thievery cannot be justified as a means of acquisition.