Stacy Summary: I remember first hearing about Aaron Swartz on Democracy Now! which covered his arrest by FBI for downloading public domain documents from MIT. They were on his computer and had not yet been shared. Anyway, he was facing 25 years on 13 felony counts.
- RIP, Aaron Swartz (by his friend, Cory Doctorow)
- Reddit co-founder, mass downloader of scholarly work, faces 13 felonies
- Background on the story from Techdirt: US Government Ups Felony Count In JSTOR/Aaron Swartz Case From Four To Thirteen
- This from CNET: If convicted, Swartz faced a maximum of $4 million in fines and more than 50 years in prison after the government increased the number of felony counts against Swartz to 13 from 4.
- This from Lawrence Lessig, a close friend of Aaron’s: Prosecutor as Bully
Earlier, Lessig tweeted: Aaron Swartz “is gone today, driven to the edge by what a decent society would call bullying.”
Aaron’s mother writing at Ycombinator:
Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts. Aaron has been depressed about his case/upcoming trial, but we had no idea what he was going through was this painful.
Aaron was a terrific young man. He contributed a lot to the world in his short life and I regret the loss of all the things he had yet to accomplish. As you can imagine, we all miss him dearly. The grief is unfathomable.
Our nation’s growing humorlessness won’t just mean that insubordinate idealists like Swartz lose their freedom or their lives. As our culture becomes steadily less accepting of people with Swartz’s irreverant attitude toward authority, we’ll all be poorer as a result. Revolutionary new technologies and ideas don’t come from people with a reverence for following the rules. They come from iconoclasts like Jobs, Wozniak, and Swartz. It’s a bad idea to lock them up and throw away the key.
In 2011 Swartz was charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act with wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer. The crime? Downloading academic journals from not-for profit JSTOR on a guest account without permission. JSTOR would later provide free access claiming it already had a program in the works when Swartz committed his crime. In other words, Aaron Swartz did to JSTOR what Mark Zuckerberg did to Harvard’s Facebook – gained unauthorized access to data which lead to offering a service the university said it was already working on. And in the state of Massachusetts no less!
Like Harvard with Zuckerberg, JSTOR was able to settle the issue with Swartz outside of a court room. Unlike with Zuckerberg, the US Attorney for Massachusetts pursued criminal charges which meant Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison and a million dollar fine. Maybe if Zuckerberg had been a political activist…
His interview with RT re: attempts to put internet under UN style control:
And here he is speaking about starting the campaign against SOPA: