A college student in Colombia faces the possibility of jail time over an a scholarly article he shared on the Internet.
Diego Gomez, 26, of Colombia is studying biodiversity conservation at the University of Quindío for a Master’s degree and part of his studies require him to back up his source material with other articles. Unfortunately, one of the jerks behind a paper he shared on the Internet didn’t like the fact that he was letting other people read it for some reason. So he filed a grievance and Gomez could get four to eight years in prison just for sharing a thesis paper on Scribd as part of his studies.
The problem is that Colombia doesn’t have a fair use system and the law he’s being prosecuted under falls under a criminal law enacted in 2006 as part of a free trade agreement between Colombia and the United States. Gomez has been relying heavily on the Internet for his Master’s degree because of the wealth of information it can provide for his studies so more charges could be filed if other authors decide to douchebags. The Electronic Frontier Foundation described the law as something that “was meant to fulfill the trade agreement’s restrictive copyright standards, and it expanded criminal penalties for copyright infringement, increasing possible prison sentences and monetary fines.” That basically leaves the door open for “excessive criminal charges.”
Technically, we should put a “CAMPUS CRIME” tag on this story but frankly we don’t see how a crime was committed. The very thing Gomez shared is available in any library for free and unless a paper about bio-infusing mulch is going to become a bestseller, there’s no need to send some poor, innocent student to jail for it.