Aaron Swartz was internet pioneer and activist. He was arrested after getting caught downloading 4.8 million articles from the MIT computer network and making them available for free on the internet. He did this because he believed that research and other scholarly articles at MIT should be made available for all and it would be for the betterment of society. After a lengthy trial he committed suicide because of the penalties he had been facing.
Swartz was always talented. He was very active on the web even as a preteen building websites for himself and his family. He was also part of the coding team that developed RSS at the tender age of 14. He was also very much an activist. In 2008 he downloaded almost 20,000 articles from PACER and donated them to a open-government website. Since PACER’s contents are all a matter of public record, he did not face charges for them, however he did get the attention of FBI who now had started keeping a file on him.
If the FBI is keeping a file on you, you do not go do the same shit again. I understand what he did was in fact good but doing so is in fact a crime because it violates copyright laws. The penalties here are secondary to the fact that it is a crime that was in fact committed knowingly and willingly. Whereas the prosecutor did overreach and threatened to throw him in jail for 35 years there was an offer on the table for 6 months in jail. Instead of taking the deal he committed suicide. I can give one other example of someone else who also went to jail for disobeying a a similar copyright law. One of the guys in South Africa not named Nelson Mandela. If some poor and most probably illiterate person in South Africa can go to jail in an Apartheid system, if people can go on living as slaves or suffer under oppression of dictators or not commit suicide during the Holocaust yet still fight back, he could have too.
Mental illness is like a broken arm. If you don’t go to a doctor to fix it, it will fester and rot and you can’t use it to do everyday things. That was his issue. If he was not mentally ill would he have still done this ? That same overreaching prosecutor is now prosecuting Dzokhar Tsarnaev. I hope she does well. That is all I can say.
Here is a quote from him “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.”
Oh I’m sorry that quote is actually from the movie Batman. Here is an actual Swartz quote “But you need not—indeed, morally, you cannot—keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world.” In my opinion he was just a Hollywood brainwashed idiot who used words stuff like cannot, should not and must instead of things like in my best interests or want to and like to be able to.
Peters, J. (2013, Feb 7). The Idealist. Aaron Swartz wanted to save the world. Why couldn’t he save himself ? Slate. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2013/02/aaron_swartz_he_wanted_to_save_the_world_why_couldn_t_he_save_himself.html.
Johnson, B. (2013, August 12). Report: DOJ “Elevated Its Charges’ Against AAron Swartz Because Internet Community Rallied on His Behalf. PJ Media. Retrieved from http://pjmedia.com/blog/report-doj-elevated-its-charges-against-swartz-because-internet-community-rallied-on-his-behalf/?singlepage=true.