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View Diary: SHOUT OUT: This man shouldn't have died. Aaron Swartz committed suicide. (40 comments)

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    http://lessig.tumblr.com/...

    The billions of snippets of sadness and bewilderment spinning across the Net confirm who this amazing boy was to all of us. But as I’ve read these aches, there’s one strain I wish we could resist:

    Please don’t pathologize this story.

    No doubt it is a certain crazy that brings a person as loved as Aaron was loved (and he was surrounded in NY by people who loved him) to do what Aaron did. It angers me that he did what he did. But if we’re going to learn from this, we can’t let slide what brought him here.

    http://www.wired.com/...
    When he was 14 years old, Aaron helped develop the RSS standard; he went on to found Infogami, which became part of Reddit. But more than anything Aaron was a coder with a conscience: a tireless and talented hacker who poured his energy into issues like network neutrality, copyright reform and information freedom.  Among countless causes, he worked with Larry Lessig at the launch of the Creative Commons, architected the Internet Archive’s free public catalog of books, OpenLibrary.org, and in 2010 founded Demand Progress, a non-profit group that helped drive successful grassroots opposition to SOPA last year.

    [snip]

    It couldn’t have helped that he faced a looming federal criminal trial in Boston on hacking and fraud charges, over a headstrong stunt in which he arranged to download millions of academic articles from the JSTOR subscription database for free from September 2010 to January 2011, with plans to release them to the public.

    JSTOR provides searchable, digitized copies of academic journals online. MIT had a subscription to the database, so Aaron brought a laptop onto MIT’s campus, plugged it into the student network and ran a script

    [snip]

    The JSTOR hack was not Aaron’s first experiment in liberating costly public documents. In 2008, the federal court system briefly allowed free access to its court records system, Pacer, which normally charged the public eight cents per page. The free access was only available from computers at 17 libraries across the country, so Aaron went to one of them and installed a small PERL script he had written that cycled sequentially through case numbers, requesting a new document from Pacer every three seconds, and uploading it to the cloud. Aaron pulled nearly 20 million pages of public court documents, which are now available for free on the Internet Archive.

    The FBI investigated that hack, but in the end no charges were filed. Aaron wasn’t so lucky with the JSTOR matter.

    http://lessig.tumblr.com/...
    Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR figured “appropriate” out: They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the “criminal” who we who loved him knew as Aaron.

    [snip]

    Fifty years in jail, charges our government. Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time. That begins with one word: Shame.

    One word, and endless tears.

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