Online digital library JSTOR will begin offering free access to its catalogue of journals, papers, and books. The Register & Read program will now allow individuals to register for the service, but members will only be able to read three items every two weeks. Users won't be able to see JSTOR's whole library either: free accounts will only have access to 1,200 journals from 700 publishers. In exchanges for free access, users will have to enter their personal details at signup that will be shared with JSTOR along with its partners, giving them insight as to who’s reading specific material.
Subscribing to JSTOR is notoriously expensive and often restricted to universities and libraries, so the basic access is a welcome move for those interested in academic papers. Some critics believe that the resource should be free from any restrictions, with former Reddit co-owner Aaron Swartz among them. The digital activist was charged with stealing 4.8 million documents from JSTOR using MIT’s network in 2011, presumably with the intention of uploading them freely to the internet. The case is still ongoing, but that — along with the popularity of the Register & Read trial — has clearly caused JSTOR to rethink its access policy.