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I certainly don't know whether this case was in fact some sort of over-reaching by presecutors, but I do find it odd that someone described as "an extraordinary hacker" was a fellow at a Harvard Center for Ethics. Who knows how this trial would have played out? If you are going to engage in civil disobedience, you need to be willing to do the time if that is whaqt it comes to.
The whole point of publishing scholarly articles is that the ideas be made available to everyone to advance the development of knowledge. In most cases, the authors aren't even paid for their work. The fact that prosecutors aggressively went after this guy for sharing information that supposed to be SHARED is absurd and offensive.
RIP, Aaron Swartz -
Academics posting their papers online in tribute to Aaron Swartz using Twitter hashtag #pdftribute
If JSTOR, the databank from which he allegedly "stole" documents, didn't want charges pressed, why were the Feds to hell-bent on pursuing this case? Those documents were academic documents written by academics who would never see a dime from JSTOR and weren't part of any profit motive. Wall Street banksters commit more damaging crimes and walk scot-free, but this guy gets hammered by the Feds. Just an insane sense of justice from our gov't.
Contrary to popular belief, regionguy, the term hacker as used by other hackers and technologists does not indicate somebody is necessarily involved in nefarious or illicit activities. Any negative connotations of the term are those put upon it by the popular media. It is generally used by those in the know to describe somebody who is resourceful and clever with computers, and it's regarded as a positive thing.
Information and news wants to be free. Information that is paid for by public money or about the public should be free to all taxpayers. Whether it is a contributing cause of his death or not, this is a cause we will pursue.
Largewu, I am familiar with that distinction, having been "resourceful and clever with computers" for most of my life. I have also encountered more than one hacker who used the term as you describe yet were engaged in what I regarded as nefarious activity. I do wish this man had not killed himself, not only because of the undeniable human tragedy of any suicide but because he might have been publicly exonerated. I don't see the prosecutors as somehow being responsible for his death, though.
regionguy, the only "crime" that Aaron was being prosecuted for was using a system the way it was designed, in the manner it was intended, to download documents that were publicly available. In other words he was being prosecuted for doing little more than you did in reading the story of his death. Isn't it wonderful to realize that you can be charged with a federal crime for doing that, even if the legal team at the Star Tribune clearly tells federal prosecutors to dismiss the case, if Wayzata Investment Partners are not just as clear in saying that you shouldn't be prosecuted, the feds can currently put you in prison for 30 years. Makes you feel proud to live with such an enlightened legal system, eh?
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