JSTOR announced yesterday that they are opening access to a portion of their older holdings, free for use by the entire world. They noted this was part of a larger effort to make their resources more available to researchers unaffiliated with institutions that have JSTOR access.
They also noted that this was (or wasn’t?) in response to the highly publicized downloading by activist Aaron Swartz that led to his arrest & arraignment on computer & wire fraud charges earlier this summer. In a public letter, the JSTOR Managing Director, Laura Brown, stated that they had plans to release this content prior to the Swartz case, but that “it would be inaccurate to say that these events have had no impact on our planning.” She is not particularly clear what impact the Swartz case actually did have on their planning, noting that they “considered whether to delay or accelerate this action, largely out of
concern that people might draw incorrect conclusions about our
motivations.” I’m not sure what incorrect conclusions people might draw, or how the timing of the release would affect the correctness of those conclusions, but I’m always happy to hear of more resources being available to more people!