What started as minor annoyance that I couldn’t purchase ebooks legally, has become a determination to support pirates. Publishers, there are 6,973,738,433 people in the world, and you sell legally to only 5% of them? You’re screwing your own future here!
I’ve repeatedly run across these notices while searching for educational materials for myself and my students:
This is incredibly jarring. Last year I went to Texas A&M University for free, where I got any book in America delivered to my hands in two weeks, completely free.
And now I find myself in Kazakhstan, surrounded by insightful scholars and students who are barred from practical access to work materials. Barred by “this is not available in your country” and “this resource is for US/UK/EU residents only.” (Or, “this resource costs two months’ salary, but we don’t really care about you.” Or, “you could get this if you went to America for duplicate schooling, but that would cost your parents their house.”)
Because of this experience, I fully support the Indian/Chinese/Brazilian/Kazakhstani scholars and students who “pirate” philosophy, sociology, economics, and physics textbooks. If those resources are available to first-world scholars for free, they should be available and affordable for us all.
I’m reminded again that I was awarded the “birthright lottery” of American citizenship, giving me twice the wages, twice the protections, and twice the future opportunities of my Kazakhstani equals. Not based on my merits, but based on discrimination, on the haves– and have-nots of modern nation-states.
And I can’t believe that companies and nonprofits worldwide choose to forbit access and purchase from people living in developing countries, and yet say with a straight face that their mission is to act with some benefit to the world. Or that someday later (10 years from now? 20 years from now?), they might decide to sign agreements to allow sale or use of their product across vast swaths of Eurasia… if they feel like it.
Why, when a world of wisdom, educational technologies, and the best libraries in history are increasingly online worldwide, is access still closed in so many ways to scholars and students in the developing world?
And why do Central Asian countries sign anti-piracy agreements without first demanding a clause recognizing that it can hardly be piracy (i.e. loss of income) if materials were never made available for sale to their citizens, anyway?