18,592 public domain (i.e. pre-1923) scientific papers from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society are now available for anyone to download.
An extract from the README:
Several years ago I came into possession, through rather boring and
lawful means, of a large collection of JSTOR documents.
These particular documents are the historic back archives of the
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society — a prestigious
scientific journal with a history extending back to the 1600s.
The portion of the collection included in this archive, ones published
prior to 1923 and therefore obviously in the public domain, total some
18,592 papers and 33 gigabytes of data.
The documents are part of the shared heritage of all mankind,
and are rightfully in the public domain, but they are not available
freely. Instead the articles are available at $19 each–for one month’s
viewing, by one person, on one computer. It’s a steal. From you.
When I received these documents I had grand plans of uploading them to
Wikipedia’s sister site for reference works, Wikisource — where they
could be tightly interlinked with Wikipedia, providing interesting
historical context to the encyclopedia articles. For example, Uranus
was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel; why not take a look at
the paper where he originally disclosed his discovery? (Or one of the
several follow on publications about its satellites, or the dozens of
other papers he authored?)
But I soon found the reality of the situation to be less than appealing:
publishing the documents freely was likely to bring frivolous litigation
from the publishers.
—Greg Maxwell, July 20th 2011.