Read my story (english) | Compartir no es Delito 2014-07-29


"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 ... 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 ... 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 ..."


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Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.comment oa.advocacy oa.students oa.biodiversity oa.columbia oa.south oa.copyright oa.licensing oa.litigation oa.libre

Date tagged:

07/29/2014, 09:51

Date published:

07/29/2014, 05:51