After a postponed hearing in October, final arguments in Diego Gomez’s case are scheduled for Wednesday, January 25. This marks the potential conclusion of a court case that has gone on for more than two and a half years. Regardless of the verdict, Diego’s case is an urgent, global reminder to advocates of open research: open access must become the default in academic publishing, and we need global reforms to get there.

When Diego Gomez, a biology master’s student at the University of Quindio in Colombia, shared a colleague’s thesis with other scientists over the Internet, he was doing what any other science grad student would do: sharing research he found useful so others could benefit from it and build on it. But the author of the paper filed a lawsuit over the “violation of [his] economic and related rights,” putting this master’s graduate in his late 20s at risk of being sentenced to four to eight years in prison with crippling monetary fines. (Colombian digital rights organization Fundación Karisma, in addition to providing Diego with legal assistance, has documented Diego’s story in detail here.)

Diego’s case would not exist if open access were the default in academic publishing. “Open access” refers to the free, immediate, online availability of scholarly research, in contrast to the current status quo of expensive subscription journals and paywalled databases. Open access policies are critical to education, innovation, and global progress.

We need major reform of our laws, both internationally and domestically, to make open access the norm and ensure that sharing, promoting scientific progress, and exercising creative expression are not crimes.

As we await the final verdict in Diego’s trial, it is more important than ever to join EFF and open access allies all over the world in standing with Diego. Sign this petition before Diego’s trial and make your voice heard.

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