Aaron Swartz Is Dead

Aaron Swartz committed suicide yesterday.

Aaron_Swartz_profile

Swartz was a prodigy computer science whiz (co-developer of RSS — at 14) and information-should-be-free activist who was facing up to 35 years in jail for downloading the JSTOR archive of about 4.8 million documents.

From The New York Times:

Mr. Swartz was 26, and his death was due to suicide. His body was found by his girlfriend in his apartment in New York, his uncle, Michael Wolf, said on Saturday. He had apparently hanged himself, Mr. Wolf said.

…Cory Doctorow, a science fiction author and an online activist, posted a tribute to Mr. Swartz on the blog he co-edits, BoingBoing.

…Of the indictment, he said, “The fact that the U.S. legal apparatus decided he belonged behind bars for downloading scholarly articles without permission is as neat an indictment of our age — and validation of his struggle — as you could ask for.”

…On Wednesday JSTOR announced that it would open its archives for 1,200 journals to free reading by the public on a limited basis.

Swartz had previously written about the vicious embrace depression could wrap around him, so his death cannot be reducded to a decision  “to take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them” — not that it ever is (say I, as someone whose family has been very hard it by the pathology of depressive illness).

But I will say that whatever miseries led Swartz to this end, I am sorry indeed to live in a society where the crime of stealing  articles on 18th century monetary policy (inter alia, of course) is treated more harshly than the non-offense of terrorizing a public street through the display of firearms.

Last word: As Doctorow told the Times, we have lost someone to be missed.

Swartz, he wrote via email, was“uncompromising, principled, smart, flawed, loving, caring, and brilliant. The world was a better place with him in it.”

Update:  Cory Doctorow’s remembrance over at BoingBoing is very much worth a read.  He knew and felt deeply for Swartz, and captures some of the spark there, and provides as well a sober and fair-minded account of the various woes that may have ensnared his friend.  Fallows also has good thoughts.

ETA: Image: Aaron Swartz at a Creative Commons event, 13 December 2008.






202 replies
  1. 1
    Ramalama says:

    Shame, shame on MIT, among others.

  2. 2
    Corner Stone says:

    He was hounded time and time again by individuals with a perceived grudge against his associates as well. Probably didn’t help his situation or state of mind.

  3. 3
    LanceThruster says:

    I’ve never heard of him (though I have of JSTOR) and I miss him already.

    So very sad.

    x2 on the pathology of depression.

  4. 4
    Cacti says:

    Aaron Swartz committed suicide yesterday. Swartz was a prodigy computer science whiz (co-developer of RSS — at 14) and information-should-be-free activist who was facing up to 35 years in jail for downloading the JSTOR archive of about 4.8 million documents.

    And I’m supposed to feel sorry for this thief because?

  5. 5
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Thanks for posting this here, I was going to bring it up anyway if there was an open thread.

    Really sobered and saddened by all this. I wonder if it will make some people think twice about these insanely long prison sentences for “hacking”, basically a non-violent property crime. (Surely the law can distinguish between maliciously damaging property which might harm someone, stealing property, and just trespassing, as it does with other kinds of crimes. But… corporations are involved. And they are our betters.)

    Aaron sounds like an idealist who put his whole self into effecting change, but also suffered disillusionment and depression. Part of that’s a normal reaction to moving from adolescence to adulthood, and it must be that much harder for someone of his intellect who was involved in adult pursuits before he finished growing up. Of course their were other pressures, terrible pressures in his life, but I feel his impatience. There but for the grace of god, go I… When I was his age I was only peripherally involved in politics and none of the illegal stuff I did on computers had a high enough profile to attract attention. I blew up on a couple of Yahoo! groups devoted to a certain scifi fandom instead. I went back to school. I started a relationship. I applied for a job in a totally unrelated field and pretty much quit programming.

    There but for the grace of God go I.

    I salute you, brother. Rest in peace.

  6. 6
    Emma says:

    @Cacti: Asshole. You are an unmitigated asshole.

    Perhaps you could feel sorry for a person whose illness drove him to a desperate act?

  7. 7
    Laertes says:

    @Cacti:

    You’re supposed to feel sorry for this human being because he was depressed and in so much pain that he took his own life. It’d be a mistake to let whatever outrage you feel about his alleged crimes lead you to feel that you have to abrade your basic humanity.

  8. 8
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Cacti:

    Theft of what, asshat??!

    The authors of the papers aren’t getting royalties like a musicians would. JSTOR exists to make the info available to students and academics. I can log on through my school, pull out as many of the damned things as I want and post them all over teh internets and it isn’t stealing a goddamned thing.

  9. 9
    Mark S. says:

    Mr. Swartz returned the hard drives with 4.8 million documents, and JSTOR declined to pursue the case. But United States attorney Carmen M. Ortiz pressed on, saying that “Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars.”

    I could see not wanting to drop the matter completely, but trying to get 35 years in prison for this is assholish. I hope Ms. Ortiz is proud of herself.

  10. 10
    aimai says:

    What the amazing disparity between his potential sentence and the non sentence handed out to the open carry lunatics and murderers shows that when it comes to private property there is no such thing as a victimless crime, while when it comes to terroristic acts committed by white people against society at large there are no victims whose rights need to be protected.

    aimai

  11. 11
    Cacti says:

    @Emma:

    Perhaps you could feel sorry for a person whose illness drove him to a desperate act?

    A famous thief is dead.

    A single tear rolls down my cheek. Boo hoo hoo.

    Who will take his place now in the left wing cargo cult of trendy felons?

  12. 12
    Emma says:

    @Mark S.: Especially since JSTOR is basically an aggregator of old material.

  13. 13
    Laertes says:

    @Cacti:

    Every day, with every thing you do, you’re reshaping yourself into the person you’re going to be from that point forward. Stop and think, man, about what you’re doing to yourself by so carefully cultivating this sense of outrage and working so hard to erase your empathy and decency.

    Maybe part of your practice could be to spend a little time every day trying to hate your enemies less.

  14. 14
    Emma says:

    @Cacti: May the world have the same sympathy for you in your moment of despair as you have for others.

  15. 15
    Cacti says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    Theft of what, asshat??!

    Free Mumia!

  16. 16
    scav says:

    monetization (like guns) über alles is the cry many adhere to in their vision of the pricky ‘Mercan dream. Mere bodies are a negligible collateral damage if there’s a greenback in sight.

  17. 17
    Cacti says:

    @Emma:

    May the world have the same sympathy for you in your moment of despair as you have for others.

    Maybe one day I can commit 4.8 million counts of theft, and gain the approval of my progressive betters.

  18. 18
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Cacti:

    Don’t you have some masturbation to do over at Free Republic? I hear the pix of Chinese soldiers shooting a female demonstrator in the head are especially spank-worthy for folks like you. Really nice close-ups of a PLA Kalashnikov and the bloody body afterwards.

  19. 19
    Laertes says:

    @Cacti:

    A bonus tip: Though the words “cargo” and “cult” are often seen together, it doesn’t follow that any appropriate use of the word “cult” can be amplified by prefixing it with “cargo.” Such usage may signal to your readers that you don’t understand the words you’re using, or perhaps that you can’t be troubled to choose them with care.

  20. 20
    LanceThruster says:

    @Cacti:

    And I’m supposed to feel sorry for this thief because?

    I’m feeling sorry for us having lost such a brilliant mind. We are so behind the eight ball across the board on so many levels that we can’t afford to lose anyone who could contribute to an effort to help move the world along in sensible directions.

    You were expecting another gun violence mass murder? He wanted to end his pain, but it doesn’t seem he was out deliver retribution to anyone else regardless of feeling persecution. He obviously felt helpless. Anyone who’s even experience the depths of that for a short period knows just how draining/terrifying/debilitating that can be.

    “Knowing that you’re crazy doesn’t make the crazy things stop happening.”
    ― Mark Vonnegut, The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity

    “We’re here to get each other through this thing, whatever it is.”
    ― Mark Vonnegut

  21. 21
    Emma says:

    @Cacti: I should have better sense than to try to interfere with karma. Go with whatever God you have and may (s)he have mercy on you.

  22. 22
    Tom Levenson says:

    Hey folks. This is truly a don’t feed the troll moment. There is an asshole working the thread. S/he’s doing a good job of being an asshole. But there’s no need to reward bad behavior.

  23. 23
    Cacti says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    Don’t you have some masturbation to do over at Free Republic?

    Aren’t you late for the cybervigil at Firedoglake? I’m sure you can find a ripping good discussion on his fellow “martyrs” Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.

  24. 24
    sparrow says:

    @Cacti:Hey Cacti, if you were to hang yourself, I would feel sorry. But not as sorry as I feel about Aaron, who was trying to better the world instead of shit all over it as you do.

  25. 25
    handsmile says:

    Thank you very much, Tom Levenson, for “front-paging” this tragic and disturbing story.

    For its links, I’m reposting an excerpt from my comment on this morning’s open thread:

    With the number of computer and tech geeks who post here (though in fact all who do owe Swartz some measure of gratitude), I’d like to think it would merit “front-page” attention.

    While I expect you’ve read them, here are links to Cory Doctorow’s (BoingBoing) and Larry Lessig’s (blog) poignant “obituaries” on their friend and comrade:

    http://boingboing.net/2013/01/…..wartz.html
    http://lessig.tumblr.com/post/…..r-as-bully

  26. 26
    hitchhiker says:

    The juxtaposition of that photograph and the subtitle . . . so sad.

    I do have some excellent news, tho’, for this thread’s eager troll.

    For decades, psychology was preoccupied with alleviating negative emotional states like depression, chronic anger, or anxiety. More recently, we’ve come to understand that we can also “treat” people to cultivate positive emotions and behaviors, and that traits like empathy and happiness are skills we can consciously develop over time.

    Get to work, troll, before it’s too late. Empathy can be learned.

  27. 27
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Cacti: Before you start defending the status quo, let’s get a few things straight:

    The business model of academic journals is fucked.
    The scientific model of, at the very least, medical journal article publishing is fucked.

    PLOSOne and other efforts are attempting to adjust to the first reality.
    Registering drug trials (to FDA) and similar, voluntary efforts are an attempt, still quite inadequate, to deal with the second reality.

    Journals depend on academic institutions paying them FUCKTONS of money to keep in business. The institutions then allow researchers attached to the institution to read all the articles in their physical library for free. Well, that’s silly, so they digitized it. But now you have people researching outside the walls, having to buy articles one at a time at high cost. (And some do.) It’s getting stupid.

    Journals choose articles to publish based on them being startling, noteworthy, revolutionary, etc. They won’t publish, in general, negative results or studies that confirm a previous study. This is causing major problems in medical research and is harming patients right now. The number of high profile and just plain wrong studies published by medical journals in the last decade ought to give us all pause. And that’s before we consider the influence of big money in medical research.

    Aaron knew these things. He was frustrated with the pace of change. He also did something that probably a lot of other geeks have done, but turned into a target because of who he was.

  28. 28
    Cacti says:

    @Emma:

    I should have better sense than to try to interfere with karma. Go with whatever God you have and may (s)he have mercy on you.

    Non-believer, but thanks.

  29. 29
    Laertes says:

    @hitchhiker:

    I know first-hand that that’s true. On the other hand, it’s also true that cruelty and hate are skills we can consciously develop over time. Choosing one set or the other is just about the most important decision you’ll ever make. If you aren’t aware that there’s a choice to be made, you’ll most likely just be carried along with whoever’s near to hand.

  30. 30
    jayjaybear says:

    @Cacti: You probably think Javert was the hero of Les Miserables, too…

  31. 31
    aimai says:

    @Cacti:

    Cacti’s posts are the equivalent of a drunk vomiting on himself during a date and then shouting, belligerantly, “What are you looking at?” when he asks for a good night kiss.

    aimai

  32. 32
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Agreed.

  33. 33
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Another Halocene Human: I’m going to note here that it’s very, very likely that the problems that plague medical research field in general and the journal side of it are likely a problem in ALL scientific fields. It’s just more obvious in medicine because you have entities that pay for studies and then bury the results when they don’t like them and all kinds of rot like that going on. And most journals outside of medicine would not publish a study about intercessory prayer with a straight face. That particular study apparently involved faked data, and the same damn thing (fake data, impossible result) happened in the much smaller physics world about a decade ago. Took years for the guy to get caught, too. Finally the screams from labs that couldn’t repeat his results got too loud to ignore. But nobody’s life was on the line there.

    Journals are a fucked up system that need to go away and be replaced with something more functional. Possibly with government/institutional/big donor support. (And slimey corporate paws kept far away.)

  34. 34
    Emma says:

    @Cacti: s’all right. You don’t have to believe in karma. She believes in you.

  35. 35
    dmsilev says:

    Let me repost a comment I made earlier this afternoon over at Ars Technica:

    No financial gain for him, certainly, but bear in mind that there was a real cost to MIT resulting from his actions. Specifically, JSTOR cut the campus off from access for a while, which means that any number of people who legitimately used MIT’s campus subscription to JSTOR were unable to do so until things were sorted out. As a (not-at-MIT) academic myself, I can tell you that losing, however temporarily, access to a wide swath of journals would definitely impact productivity (it’s a necessary piece of infrastructure to do my job). Multiply that by the umpteen thousand people on the MIT campus who similarly need such databases, and you’re suddenly talking big numbers in lost productivity.

    A crime worthy of decades in prison? No, not even close. But please let’s not assume that this was just a harmless little lark with no costs associated with it.

    Edit: What would be an appropriate punishment for his actions? Well, estimate and add up the costs of lost productivity due to that database outage, and fine him that much. Wild guess, somewhere in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars at most. That’s a proportionate response. 50 years in prison is not.

  36. 36
    Pococurante says:

    @Cacti:

    And I’m supposed to feel sorry for this thief because?

    While you’re at it could you call for the banning of anything that could be used for hanging, and maybe slip in how it’s all his fault and the fault of anyone related to him because all knew he was depressed and yet kept hanging tools around?

    Asshole.

  37. 37
    LanceThruster says:

    @aimai:

    Cacti’s posts are the equivalent of a drunk vomiting on himself during a date and then shouting, belligerantly, “What are you looking at?” when he asks for a good night kiss.

    …and having crapped his pants unawares, mindlessly fondles himself while doing so.

  38. 38
    hitchhiker says:

    @Laertes:

    Yep. Me, too. Amazing how many people don’t know this.

  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I am sorry indeed to live in a society where the crime of stealing articles on 18th century monetary policy (inter alia, of course) is treated more harshly than the non-offense of terrorizing a public street through the display of firearms.

    Meanwhile, pension stealing shitstain W. Mittens Rmoney is still at large, as are war criminals and mass murderers the deserting coward and Dick Cheney.

  40. 40
    PIGL says:

    @Cacti: in the stakes for most nauseatingly vicious prick of the 21st century, i would say that you
    are ahead by several lengths. you make me sick.

  41. 41
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Logical Fallacies Cacti: That’s right, an idealistic young man who suffered from depression is equivalent to a rapey creeper who thumbed his nose at governments until he got caught breaking Swedish assault laws because he’s a rapey creeper.

    I’m going to think of you as Logical Fallacies Cacti from now on.

  42. 42
    Emma says:

    @dmsilev: Why would they have lost access to the information? Most University libraries have multiple databases available to them, not to mention interlibrary loan services. The advantage to JSTOR was that they went back and collected the earliest years of a title, but right now there is more than one aggregator who has copied their method.

    I’m not saying what he did was well thought out. But the same information JSTOR sells you is out there in several other versions.

  43. 43
    eemom says:

    There’s no connection, of course, but there was a rather intense and disturbing discussion of suicide going on here just last night.

    While that was going on, I had — and expressed — some doubts about the “intervention” (for lack of a better word) that Mnemosyne and Alison were attempting. However, reading Doctorow’s piece today — the terribly sad and poignant part where he wondered if this young man understood how many people would have been there for him if he had reached out — I have to say I’m rethinking that.

  44. 44
    Ted & Hellen says:

    26 year-old hacker hounded to suicide by federal prosecuters.

    THIS is how the plutocracy enforces its rules in Obama’s America.

    George W Bush walks free and wealthy. Twenty six year old freedom of information activist is dead.

    Dick Cheney gets his 47th heart transplant and lives to be 347. Bradley Manning rots in jail.

    Hope and Change.

  45. 45
    Emma says:

    @Ted & Hellen: I knew it. A thread is not truly screwed up until the brainless one shows up to blame Obama.

  46. 46
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Emma:

    I’m not saying what he did was well thought out. But the same information JSTOR sells you is out there in several other versions.

    True, and this should never have gone beyond a civil matter between MIT and Swartz. If MIT was really that inconvenienced, they could have dealt with this in a claims court.

  47. 47
    dmsilev says:

    @Emma: There is some stuff which is (AFAIK) only available electronically via JSTOR. Interlibrary loan is of course always an option, but compared to downloading a PDF to your computer, it’s quite slow. There are certainly workarounds and other routes, but having to use them takes (and wastes) time and effort.

    Bear in mind that the low end of my damage estimate corresponds to under $1 for each person on the MIT campus. You don’t have to throw much of a monkey wrench into someone’s working day to cause a delay that amounts to that much in lost labor. Not even at graduate student wages.

  48. 48
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Emma:

    I knew it. A thread is not truly screwed up until the brainless one shows up to blame Obama.

    Hey stupid: WHOSE justice department was hounding this young genius to an early grave?

    Fuck you, bot.

  49. 49
    Laertes says:

    @Emma:

    I love Obama and support him and admire him and volunteered for him and voted for him twice and wish I could vote for him a third time.

    Four years into his presidency, it’s not crazy to hold him responsible for what his justice department gets up to. “The buck stops here” and all that. That’s his justice department, and if it’s not been under his control long enough to turn it into a perfect extension of his will, it’s certainly been long enough that he’s responsible for its excesses.

    This maybe isn’t the thread for that, but it’s true.

  50. 50
    Jimmi the Grey says:

    @Emma:

    Cacti was threatening to take the Lead Troll title. Our reigning champ could not let this go unanswered…

  51. 51
    Tom Levenson says:

    @celticdragonchick: Please note that MIT did withdraw its claim. The latest indictment was all on the US Attorney here.

  52. 52
    AA+ Bonds says:

    so his death cannot be reducded to a decision “to take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them”

    Or: there are a few ways you can read those famous lines.

  53. 53
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Laertes:

    Four years into his presidency, it’s not crazy to hold him responsible for what his justice department gets up to.

    What’s more, I have never seen this patently ridiculous excuse used before regarding any President except Nixon.

  54. 54
    Warren Terra says:

    His death is a tragedy. And there are interesting things to be said about copyright, and network access. That being said, all the ignorant jackholes who pretend that what he did regarding JSTOR was some sort of innocent jape or a blow for freedom really ought to read up on the bloody incident. The fellow burglarized MIT in order to steal their bandwidth and flagrantly violate their contract with JSTOR, a wholly admirable organization that charges universities for access in order to recover its own not-inconsiderable costs of digitizing, hosting, and providing access tools for a wide variety of scholarly resources. The inevitable effect of such an action is to make resources such as JSTOR utterly untenable, to punish them for the work they have done, and to ensure that no similar efforts are made to make further resources available – all because he believed that JSTOR didn’t deserve to be paid for its scanning, hosting, and database-management efforts, in addition to believing that the rightsholders who JSTOR was paying didn’t deserve to be paid. Swartz treated JSTOR, and MIT, as if they were the evil incarnate, when in fact they are not-for-profit middlemen who, at worst, are doing their damnedest to alleviate problems caused by the copyright rules he didn’t agree with.

    Again: I’m deeply saddened by the sad loss of this talented young man’s life. My heart goes out to his family and friends. To the extent that his JSTOR travails contributed to his terrible decision, something should have been done to ensure his wellbeing. But that doesn’t make his JSTOR actions any more right, nor any less ignorantly destructive.

  55. 55
    Ramalama says:

    @Emma: there’s also Interlibrary Borrowing, and with Harvard literally just down the street…

  56. 56
    Emma says:

    @dmsilev: I do understand the convenience of JSTOR. My first library management job was highlighted by signing a big contract for JSTOR — and two years later expanding it to include ALL of JSTOR.

    But the fact is that we traded freedom for convenience. At a very high price. Each year more and more academic information that used to be free (and in some cases still is, if you have patience) is falling under the control of aggregators who charge ridiculous amount of money a year to provide access to it. The open access movement is beginning to make inroads but it’s too soon to tell if Universities will fully support it.

    I wouldn’t have done what he did, but I appreciate why he did it.

  57. 57
    Chris says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    I wonder if it will make some people think twice about these insanely long prison sentences for “hacking”, basically a non-violent property crime.

    Tells you something about American society’s priorities. Won’t bother to bring back the number of crimes that’ve been covered up with the invocation of “property.”

  58. 58
    gene108 says:

    @Pococurante:

    While you’re at it could you call for the banning of anything that could be used for hanging, and maybe slip in how it’s all his fault and the fault of anyone related to him because all knew he was depressed and yet kept hanging tools around?

    Well, the fact is tools have other uses. Sure you can hang yourself with a rope, but you can also do non-destructive things with ropes. You’d probably need a chair to get enough height that you can be suspended, but chairs have useful functions other than hurting people.

    The same cannot be said for guns. There is no other purpose to a gun than killing/damaging something.

    *************************************

    Anyway, I’m personally surprised about people, who die from hanging. From my experience, I think it’d be a rather hard thing to do.

    I know I’m no good at tying knots and finding a place that could (a) be high enough for me hang from and (b) support my weight aren’t that apparent in most homes I’ve seen.

    Maybe I’m just looking at things wrong.

  59. 59
    dr. bloor says:

    @Mark S.:

    I could see not wanting to drop the matter completely, but trying to get 35 years in prison for this is assholish. I hope Ms. Ortiz is proud of herself.

    Ms. Ortiz has supervisors. Some of the names might be familiar to you.

  60. 60
    Emma says:

    @Laertes: You’re right, it’s not the thread. But I have yet to meet a successful CEO who spends his time meddling on every decision his subordinates make.

    This is the thing. The law says he could be charged. Other people have been charged for similar things. But until the culture changes, the laws are on the books and prosecutors will use them.

    (Edited) Please note I’m not suggesting that what he did was a good thing. But I know the impulse. Nothing makes me angrier than having to fork over money for information that was meant to be free. I do it on a daily basis, but boy does it make me crazy.

  61. 61
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Warren Terra:

    The fellow burglarized MIT in order to steal their bandwidth and flagrantly violate their contract with JSTOR

    Which means he kicks ass and is a saint, case closed, next

  62. 62
    cathyx says:

    Our justice department is busy going after the real criminals in this country. Those who steal scholarly archives and the pot smokers.

  63. 63
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Seriously, fuck JSTOR, you go to bat for that shit today at the risk of looking like you handed Swartz the instrument of his demise, give the dick-sucking of the powerful a rest for one day, for Aaron, k?

  64. 64
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Emma:

    But I have yet to meet a successful CEO who spends his time meddling on every decision his subordinates make.

    Is there anything, anything at all, you disgusting fan-girl enabler, for which you would hold your idol responsible after four years in office?

    Anything?

  65. 65
    scav says:

    @eemom: but, at some point we have to give people the grace of treating them as grownups and acknowledge we can’t prevent everthing. Here, let’s hold you down and force feed you because we know better than you, and we’re going to keep holding you down until you agree with us or your body gives out naturally? That sounds as unattractive as the other option.

    As for the rest? Forensic entomology might provide clues. Blowhard flies just naturally cluster on these threads.

  66. 66
    dr. bloor says:

    @Emma:

    This is the thing. The law says he could be charged. Other people have been charged for similar things. But until the culture changes, the laws are on the books and prosecutors will use them.

    Fails the smell test. Trying to lock a guy up for 35 years in a matter where the aggrieved has withdrawn its claim is the sort of thing that should have triggered the Grandstanding Meters in DC.

    A three minute phone call would have been sufficient to persuade Ms. Ortiz to think seriously about whether this was a wise use of DOJ resources, and if she really felt so, to pursue a penalty appropriate for the circumstances. No one felt compelled to make such a call.

  67. 67
    AA+ Bonds says:

    All I know is that I spent most of college stealing shit from JSTOR to send to people who didn’t have the same privilege that I had, and it’s probably the one morally defensible thing that I did during those years

  68. 68
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I’d also like to point out that I know of at least two JSTOR rip rings that span multiple institutions, dedicated to putting knowledge in the hands of those outside the ivory tower, and Swartz got what he got for one reason: he decided to be up front with what the hell he was doing and why, like everyone else should be

  69. 69
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Strangely enough, no one told her to LOOK FORWARD, NOT BACK.

  70. 70
    am says:

    I think Lessig should be reposted: http://lessig.tumblr.com/post/.....r-as-bully

    It’s sad that Swartz succumbed to his illness, but the prosecutor has a bit of blood on her hands. I hope this is the end of their political career.

  71. 71
    eemom says:

    @scav:

    I don’t disagree with that, just said I was rethinking.

    And to expand on that point a little, for fuck’s sake, look at this thread. There are lots of UNKNOWNS here, people, and lots of GRAY areas. Some appreciate that and are commenting accordingly and intelligently. Others are using this tragedy as an excuse to wave the same old simplistic bullshit flags they wave here every day, and that is FUCKED. UP.

  72. 72
    WaterGirl says:

    @dmsilev: i had never heard of this person, but I am saddened beyond belief.

    Am I right in thinking that this young man committed what was essentially an act of civil disobedience to make the point that information like that should be free to everyone?

    And in response he was charged with a crime that could result in a brilliant mind and a passionate person being imprisoned for 35 years?

    And then he was so depressed that he killed himself?

    So pedophile priests and hot shots at Penn State can rape boys and cover it up for decades, and we have stand your ground laws that allow you to kill someone because you’re an idiot or an asshole, and thousands of young people die every year from gang or gun or drug violence, and we’re prosecuting kids like this and threatening 35 years in prison?

    Has no one heard of community service for this guy?

    Everything is completely upside down. So discouraging. i feel almost physically ill. I may have to go rock myself in a corner for awhile.

  73. 73
    xian says:

    geez, sometimes the b-j commentariat are the worst troll-ignorers ever.

    starting to read this thread after grieving on twitter for a few hours and suddenly 2/3rds of the comments are taking the bait from Trolls B. Trollin, Esq.?

  74. 74
    xian says:

    geez, sometimes the b-j commentariat are the worst troll-ignorers ever.

    starting to read this thread after grieving on twitter for a few hours and suddenly 2/3rds of the comments are taking the bait from Trolls B. Trollin, Esq.?

  75. 75

    I think it is a mistake, or at least a dubious effort, to infer meaning from suicide. Suicide is usually the product of depression, a disease. A disease has no meaning other than itself.

    Whatever there was right or wrong about what he did with JSTOR and whatever there was right or wrong about the federal prosecution, neither changes because he killed himself.

  76. 76
    Citizen_X says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    The business model of academic journals is fucked.

    Thank you. And I’ll emphasize that most of the work “stolen” had been funded by OUR tax dollars. For which the journals paid absolutely nothing.

    @jayjaybear: Apparently, in real life Javert outlives Jean Valjean. : (

  77. 77
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @eemom:

    Shorter eemom: STFU. Now is not the time. Nothing to see here.

    This is a HUGE story here in Boston. Obama’s justice department was doing everything it could to destroy this young man, beyond all reason or proportion. And now he is dead. And the lesson has been taught once again.

    DON’T FUCK WITH THE PLUTOCRACY.

  78. 78
    Anoniminous says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    This.

    Plus the vast majority of JSTOR papers are based on research funded, directly or indirectly, with Public Money.

  79. 79
    WaterGirl says:

    I would like to see the troll on this thread banned and all those posts removed.

  80. 80
    scav says:

    @eemom: It is a little unusually thick in here.

  81. 81
    eemom says:

    @James E. Powell:

    I think it is a mistake, or at least a dubious effort, to infer meaning from suicide.

    And yet here we are, with our very own army of Frists on this thread who know for sure, beyond a doubt, that the federal investigation was DIRECTLY responsible for this young man’s death.

  82. 82
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @James E. Powell:

    I think it is a mistake, or at least a dubious effort, to infer meaning from suicide. Suicide is usually the product of depression, a disease. A disease has no meaning other than itself.

    Sometimes yes, sometimes no. And usually somewhere in between. Depression is often partly or mostly chemical, but it is also deeply influenced by situational life elements, such as BEING HOUNDED RELENTLESSLY BY THE MOST POWERFUL GOVERNMENT ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH, intent to destroy one’s life.

    I wonder if that might make a person…sad?

  83. 83
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @eemom:

    Playing dumb doesn’t look good on you.

  84. 84
    eemom says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    STFU. Now is not the time. Nothing to see here.

    Absolutely wrong, my friend. Not what I am saying at all.

    I am objecting to the rush to judgment and the leaping to conclusions, not to a discussion of the issues.

  85. 85
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @dr. bloor:

    A three minute phone call would have been sufficient to persuade Ms. Ortiz to think seriously about whether this was a wise use of DOJ resources, and if she really felt so, to pursue a penalty appropriate for the circumstances.

    Who brought this up to the Justice Department to say ‘Hey there’s something wrong here?’ I just did a search for ‘Swartz’ on petitions.whitehouse.gov. Zero results. Where was the public outrage to get Justice’s attention? Heck, the first I heard of Swartz was today’s eulogies.

    Pursuing the case and going for 50 years after JSTOR dropped out is complete bullshit, but that’s why you have Doctorow and Lessig and the EFF fighting alongside you. You go to court and make ’em make their case. Its a sad tragedy for everyone he felt he had to make the choice he did.

  86. 86
    Raven says:

    @WaterGirl: None of these “experts” know any more than you do about why. Don’t let the blind you with bullshit.

  87. 87
    J R in WV says:

    @dmsilev:

    In your own words you say that JSTOR cut MIT off from using their archives. Not Mr. Swartz, JSTOR cut the productivity of staff and students at MIT.

    So I disagree with your condemnation of Mr. Swartz for damaging the academic careers of MIT folks, because that isn’t what happened.

    Further, the possibility of receiving a sentence of decades in jail for moving data from one place to another – not stealing it, but copying it – in a world where convicted murderers get sentences of a few years is just sick.

    Lastly, Mr. Swartz was never convicted of anything – he died an innocent man in every American sense of the word. Far more innocent that the DA who decided to try to get Mr. Swartz behind bars for the majority of his productive life!

    And F U Cactus for being an unfeeling, unAmerican piece of swine dreck!

  88. 88
    Brachiator says:

    I really liked this part of the headline of the NY Times piece:

    Precocious Programmer and Internet Activist

    I did not know much about him before his sad death, but people like him, who have contributed so much to the technology I use every day, are my heroes.

    I hope that the best things about his life inspire many precocious programmers yet to make their marks.

  89. 89
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Our world and our country is a lesser place with the loss of Aaron.
    We can argue about what he did, but there is no argument that this man made a positive mark in a world which sorely needs it.

    My condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and admirers.

  90. 90
    Raven says:

    @eemom: This moron is your friend?

  91. 91
    Citizen_X says:

    @eemom: Ordinarily, I’d say yeah, I agree with you, but a potential 35-year sentence for an act of hacking (basically) is a big fucking black cloud to have hanging over one’s head.

  92. 92
    am says:

    @xian:

    And his partner, Trollis Trollington III (of the Trollbury Trollingtons). Seriously, if this were IRC cacti would have gotten the /KICK like a new FILA ball in the middle of a favela.

    Enjoyed your comment on an otherwise sad day.

  93. 93
  94. 94
    MikeJ says:

    @WaterGirl:

    Am I right in thinking that this young man committed what was essentially an act of civil disobedience to make the point that information like that should be free to everyone?

    When you do civil disobedience you do it with the knowledge you probably will go to jail. I would agree with James at #74 that it’s impossible to draw a straight line from his legal troubles to his suicide, but I think it’s probably wise for people who are already clinically depressed to find other outlets than civil disobedience.

  95. 95
    Tom Levenson says:

    @WaterGirl: I don’t ban unless the conduct is overwhelmingly destructive of the community or an individual within it. Judgment calls — but that’s the broad outline. Publishing real names, emails, that kind of thing gets an instant ban hammer. Persistent, flagrant nastiness directed at other individuals in the thread can accumulate into banning for me. Blunt racism or bigotry. But I’ve only banned a couple of folks in several years on the net, and I do so with reluctance.

    ETA: but that’s not to say I don’t encourage folks to starve the trolls. By all means.

  96. 96
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    Tom L.: A genius mind and kind soul has taken his own life, let’s take a moment to reflect-

    BJ Commentariat: Fuck that, we’ve got axes to grind! FIREBAGGERS! OBOTS! JSTOR IS THE EVULZ!

    *sigh* This is why we can’t have nice things.

  97. 97
    tc says:

    It’s a little presumptuous to assume that his suicide was prompted by the lawsuit. The guy had a history of depression and we have no idea what was going on in his personal life.

  98. 98
    scav says:

    Here, I’ll copy somehing from elsewhere on the net, a poem by Kiki Dimoula

    The plural
    Love,
    a noun – alias substantive,
    indeed substantive,
    in singular form,
    neither feminine nor masculine,
    etymologically defenceless.
    In plural form
    defenceless loves.

    Fear,
    a common noun,
    at first in singular form
    and then in plural:
    fears.
    Fears
    of everything from now on.

    Memory,
    the first name of sorrows,
    in singular form,
    only in singular
    and with no inflection.
    The memory, the memory, the memory.

    Night,
    a common noun,
    etymologically feminine,
    in singular form.
    In plural form
    the nights.
    The nights from now on.

    This poem was published as part of the collection ‘The little of the world’ (1971).

  99. 99
    Ruckus says:

    @eemom:
    I thought your comment last night was good and I’m glad you made it.
    People were replying pretty strongly, but…

    It is or can be a delicate issue and dealing with it really depends on the person. Some require kid gloves and some almost boxing gloves. Unfortunately without being in the same room it can be extremely hard to determine which. On the phone at least you have inflection but in the room you also have body language. On a blog, you have text. That is much easier to misinterpret about intention, reason, reactions, actions and needs than live contact. And here is that but again, there are only two ways to have a positive outcome. First the person decides on their own to stop, which is unlikely to happen with someone who has tried before. Second, they have to talk to someone in person and they have to talk about the event. And be able to deal with the reactions to that frank discussion. Some are not ready to deal with that. That’s where the type of glove comes in.

  100. 100
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    The computer crime AUSA in Boston, fresh from a big NYT profile, wanted another high-profile scalp, and now he has it. I hope it looks good on his DOJ resume.

    @Warren Terra:

    The fellow burglarized MIT in order to steal their bandwidth–

    MIT has an open campus network; JSTOR’s agreement with MIT allowed unlimited downloads. As the person who would have been Swartz’s expert witness noted, what he did was inconsiderate, but if the cost of being inconsiderate is 35+ years in federal prison, then I’ll report you to the Feds for streaming Netflix and sucking up the local bandwidth.

  101. 101
    dr. bloor says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    Who brought this up to the Justice Department to say ‘Hey there’s something wrong here?’

    Eric Holder is Ortiz’s direct supervisor, and this really hasn’t been some obscure matter being kicked around a backwater office somewhere. I don’t think the exercise of prosecutorial judgement should be a function of how many We the People petitions a case generates.

  102. 102
    Emma says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: That’s what’s been bugging me, and I had to step away from the thread to think about it. MIT is one of the leaders in the open access movement. You work for them, you are contractually obligated to give them copies of your work, including your data sets, to be placed in their D-Space repository, which is completely open to the public. they leave their network open — all you need to do is give them an IP address and it’s all yours.

    What the heck were they thinking?

  103. 103
    Warren Terra says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:
    I’m sorry, that’s not true. Having been at MIT for many years, I can tell you that each (wired) IP address is individually assigned. Also, that breaking into a locked wiring cabinet to install unauthorized hardware is not using an open network.

  104. 104
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    The picture of Mr. Swartz is heartbreaking — so young, so smart, so sweet. My condolences to his friends and family; my regrets that I didn’t know about Mr. Swartz until now.

    And I find his prosecution appalling — how is this different from giving your HBO Go password to a friend? Which has been an article in Salon — don’t see that person facing prosecution.

  105. 105
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Warren Terra:

    Having been at MIT for many years, I can tell you that each (wired) IP address is individually assigned.

    And the wifi network?

    Also, that breaking into a locked wiring cabinet to install unauthorized hardware is not using an open network.

    Please point to where in the indictment it says that the wiring cabinet was locked. Perhaps it’s hidden, unlike your sanctimony.

  106. 106
    Raven says:

    Football thread please.

  107. 107

    @WaterGirl: yes, you are correct on all counts. :(

  108. 108
    Donut says:

    @Emma:

    Really? How many successful CEOs have you met? I’ve been lucky enough to be associated with a few people who would qualify as CEOs, or who are CEOs, and to a person, the ones who are successful directly involve themsleves and meddle in every thing going on in their organizations. At the very least, they have a better than passing understanding of what pretty much all of the people working for them are doing, both broadly and specifically.

    I’m not happy with Obama’s Justice department on a lot of issues, and stuff like this is included in things that really bug me. I’ll leave it at that in this thread, but to say he has no responsibility for cases like this is letting him off far too easy, IMO.

  109. 109
    e.a.f. says:

    I am just amazed at some of the comments regarding this young man’s suicide. Have they no shame?

    The political process which decided to prosecute this young man, with the idea of sending him to jail for up to 35 yrs, is beyond the pale of reasonableness. Doesn’t the American justice system have better things to do. From my reading I have concluded the Americans have a deficiet problem. There is an over crowding in jails, lack of probation services, cost of jailing all the people they do. So why would the “justice system” want to continue to prosecute this young man. I think it not unreasonable to conclude it was to promote someone’s career and to send a message to other computer experts. theft might be theft, but people don’t go to jail for up to 35 yrs. for armed robbery, murder, drunk driving, running major corporations into the ground–step up AIG, or stealing from the library.

    The government had an agenda in dealing as it did with Mr Swartz & the U.S.A. lost a brilliant mind. When Americans complain about China & the Taliban’s lack of human rights & misuse of their criminal justice system they should have a good long look in the mirror. The American justice system is just as fXXked as any dictatorship & fascist government.

    May Aaron Swartz rest in peace & his prosecutors burn in hell.

  110. 110

    […] DeLong,  Crooked Timber, The Agonist, The Atlantic Online, Guardian, Balloon Juice, The Lede,Le·gal In·sur·rec· tion, Gawker, TechCrunch, Althouse and Lessig Blog, v2, The […]

  111. 111
    Lojasmo says:

    @Jimmi the Grey:

    I think cacti is Ted and Hellen’s sock puppet.

    Two sides of the same fucking coin, those two.

  112. 112
    General Stuck says:

    RIP Mr. Schwartz – suicide is never painless and brings on many changes to those left behind. depression never sleeps/

    RIP U.S. Treasury Kills The Platinum Coin. euthanized, thank the lard.

  113. 113
    Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn says:

    @Raven: I was looking for one, too. Maybe no one around here is much into the game?

  114. 114
    Lojasmo says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    I think if he raped a little boy in a shower I’d be pretty fucking pissed.

    Unless that’s okay, or something.

  115. 115
    Emma says:

    @Donut: Quite a number, including being related to some of them. I guess mileage varies. But in my experience there’s no-one more hated than the helicopter CEO, who makes rules and then proceeds to order his managers to break them right and left. Usually he’s also the guy who’s never guilty when the fecal matter hits the air-moving unit.

    I am seriously unhappy with the DoJ myself, but I do not go as far as blaming Obama for every decision made by the people assigned to deal with a case. That is was a rotten decision, there’s no doubt, but the law is the law, and some prosecutors are stupider or more rigid than others.

  116. 116
    Lojasmo says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    “break into” typically implies some sort of lock.

  117. 117
    Xenos says:

    @Lojasmo: No, breaking, as in ‘breaking and entering’, does not imply some sort of a lock. A door can be ajar, and if your push it the rest of the way open, that can be ‘breaking’ (in some jurisdictions, at least). Sticking your hand into a cabinet could count as ‘entering’. These terms are not clearly defined in the Mass statutes, and I am not about to search the caselaw to get an answer. Maybe there is a bored law student in the house who can look this up.

  118. 118
    Dick Move says:

    Every day, I’m aware on some level that I live the life I live at the whim of a government gone rogue. I’m also aware that those who own and run said government are driven primarily by the desire to hold on to the biggest possible personal chunk of an economy in decline, as well as whatever power that chunk carries with it into the unknown future. And I know that the declining society of which I am a part once gave birth to an empire, which we’re all stuck with as it now undergoes the early spasms of what will ultimately be a death by its own hand. I know all these things. I mostly block them out, because they are killers of optimism, and I need to maintain enough optimism to smile, laugh, love and work hard. Nothing is so important that just knowing about it is worth losing the ability to see life as an essentially optimistic endeavor, or losing the belief that human beings are basically good.

    This sort of event just stops me cold. No more internet for a while.

  119. 119
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    This couldn’t in any way be one of the effects of Congress’ slavish legislative response to the entertainment industry’s pogrom against illegal downloaders.

  120. 120
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    When I think about all the assholes (neocons et al) still enjoying their liberty; all the torturers and their enablers making big bucks as lobbyists or corporate dupes, it makes me sick. The scofflaws are the beneficiaries of Selective Prosecution (not to be confused with prosecutorial discretion) and this kind of crap should be a hangin’ offense.

    How can anyone, not grafted into the Public Graft, believe in the concept of Justice?

  121. 121
    David Koch says:

    if u really think obummer reviews every prosecution made by the 93 us attorney’s offices then u have some serious daddy issues.

    it’s as dumb as the wingers saying obummer should have known the security situation of every us consulate and mission and annex.

  122. 122
    Ohio Mom says:

    @xian: I remember reading about the case against Swartz last year. I was too intimidated by the technical aspects to follow through until I understood exactly why what he did was such a big deal, but today, your link cleared some things up for me, so thanks for it.

    Mark Kleinman’s take (“A sacrifice on the altar of intellectual property”) helped me see exactly what the bigger issues were, and I’d recommend it to anyone catching up on Swartz — what Kleinman says is similar to what aimai and e.a.f @109 said. This was a witch hunt.

    http://www.samefacts.com/2013/...../#comments

  123. 123
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Yes. It’s just one of those unfortunate situations no one is responsible for.

    Cuz shit just happens spontaneously, sometimes.

  124. 124
    cyntax says:

    I’m just glad this this terribly damaging act was met with the punishment it deserved.

    And that the food people at Goldman Sachs (and other illustrious institutions) have never been charged. It’s a relief to say the least.

  125. 125
    MikeJ says:

    @cyntax: 1)Swartz was never punished for anything either. 2) The thing that was so bad about the financial crash was that everything done was perfectly legal.

  126. 126
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    paraphrasing;

    ‘The Law was made for People, not People for the Law’

  127. 127
    mtraven says:

    @Warren Terra: Everyone should read this piece by a computer security expert who was involved in Swartz’s case. tl;dr — he didn’t commit burglary or really any crime at all. Can anyone really defend the threat of 35 years in prison for questionable downloading?

  128. 128
    Tractarian says:

    I don’t know him, never heard of him, don’t give a rat’s ass about him.

    But, from what I can tell, this is a guy who was blessed with incredible intelligence, all the opportunities any young person could ever wish for, and yet he couldn’t be bothered to take care of his own mental health. (Yeah, even being under federal indictment isn’t a rational reason to off yourself.) Which means that a lot people are going to be mourning today.

    Which, frankly, makes him a schmuck.

  129. 129
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Tractarian: You have no idea about depression. You should STFU until you do.

  130. 130
    dr. bloor says:

    @Tractarian:

    Which, frankly, makes him a schmuck.

    Interesting conclusion for a guy whose psychiatric issues might well have limited his ability to gain insight into his own condition.

    I’ll let those who knew him decide whether they should just feel appropriate anger over his actions or dismiss him as a “schmuck.”

  131. 131
    Valdivia says:

    Didn’t know about him until today. Having experienced the pain of losing someone dear and near to suicide I can’t help but think of his family and close friends. It takes years, if ever, to get over losing someone this way.

    Though I am not a believer I will say a quiet kadish for him today.

  132. 132
    MathInPA says:

    Suicide is a horrible thing; a wound on the world. My younger brother committed suicide at UC Berkley, and the pain of it still hurts. I’ve also been fairly suicidal myself, of ten, something that ongoing work with SSRIs has pushed me into dopamine blockade and -its- consequences.

    However, I have to wonder at the irony of an author advocating that scholarly articles, which have both their own technical writing as well as scientific/other research discipline skills and expenses, should be utterly free. I would respectfully disagree with the idea that this is any confirmation of the idea that such things should be free, in any way.

    Instead, it is a much more urgent call to arms in two respects: first, public and comprehensive health care, especially mental health care, and second, public funding of research, scientific and otherwise. The former is a no-brainer. It would help, far more than some stupid database of the mentally ill with preventing Sandy Hook incidents or suicides like this, let alone millions of other tragedies, small and large alike.

    The latter is less immediate, but in many ways, nearly as toxic to our society. We’ve turned away from basic research and in many cases, specific research, from lack of public funding. Our academic knowledge base as a society is becoming increasingly fragmented because organizations like JSTOR and their paywalls are necessary for some recoup. If we really want information to be available– and to advance, technologically and otherwise, it must be– then we need to pay for it.

    Sadly, I suspect we’re going to have mostly idiots whining about what a thief he is on one side and how this should nevar EVAR have been prosecuted on the other. At most, we might see a reduction in sentencing, but I find the likelihood of even that much mitigation depressingly doubtful.

  133. 133
    Warren Terra says:

    @mtraven:
    He had been ordered to stay off the MIT campus, and he broke into a wiring cabinet to install unauthorized hardware, for the purpose of stealing their bandwidth and making unauthorized use of their contracted access to privately owned data. I’m not a lawyer; maybe that doesn’t fit the technical definition of “burglary”. The distinction rather escapes me, though.

    Look: I despise the way the for-profit journal owners like McMillan (owners of Nature, among a lot else) or Elsevier (owners of Cell, among a lot else) claim to own knowledge, knowledge generated almost entirely using public or charitable funds. I especially despise the way supposedly not-for-profit, public-service journal owners like the AAAS (owners of Science) make similar claims (and a lot of not-for-profit journal owners have made their back catalogs freely available since JSTOR started operations). But Swartz – may he rest in peace – abused MIT, and abused the not-for-profit JSTOR. JSTOR exists as a public service to provide access to journal articles they have spent money to digitize, index, and host – articles that JSTOR does not own. What Swartz did was like burglarizing a food bank or a soup kitchen to protest the agricultural policies of Archer Daniels Midland. Everyone he directly hurt was on the side of the angels, and the logical consequence of his actions is to make it even harder for not-for-profit organizations like JSTOR to provide subsidized access to others’ copyrighted material. Swartz – who, I want to be clear, I mourn and whom I would have surely found fascinating to have talked to and would in many ways have admired – chose the wrong methods, and the wrong targets.

  134. 134
    delia says:

    @ James E. Powell:

    I can ignore all the trolling here, but I object to the perception (not just yours) that Swartz’s condition can be chalked up to disease.

    I tried to kill myself twice during my adolescence, and my depression was no more extreme than any teenager’s. I certainly wasn’t facing 35 years in prison, but my crises were equally unsolvable in my mind, and I couldn’t think of any other way out. The actual idea to act was spur of the moment and unplanned. It was gone within seconds, and it was my ineptitude that kept me alive.

    I don’t think mental health professionals pay enough attention to the fact that the prefrontal cortex — the part of our brain we need the most in times of crisis — is the last part of the brain to develop. The skills we need the most — impulse control, sound decision making, weighing consequences — are not available to us until mid-20s at best (and I’d bet now it’s even later, with all the attention deficits and short attention spans).

    Swartz might have thought better of doing what he did if he could have conceived of the consequences. Sure, striking a blow against the machine is all well and good, but did he really think through what might happen to him?

    I’m sick of “experts” waving their little checklists and determining who’s in need of help and who’s not. How about all authorities everywhere just keep in mind that people of Swartz’s age are not mentally defective, they just haven’t developed all the skills it takes to navigate the world of adults? And based on that, treat them a bit more gently?

  135. 135
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    You should STFU until you do.

    Tom, that reply was rude and inconsiderate toward another commenter. Fee fees surely were hurted.

    Please ban yourself.

    Thank you.

  136. 136
    Laertes says:

    @David Koch:

    There’s been a lot of this kind of thing in the thread, and while this one isn’t the best-written example, it’s the last one I saw so that’s the one I’ll link.

    The oft-repeated idea is that a President isn’t responsible for any decision made by people who ultimately answer to him unless it can be shown that he was personally involved in the taking of that decision.

    That’s not what responsibility means, and it’s not how accountability works.

    There isn’t some magic wand that’s waved on inauguration day that transforms the entire federal bureaucracy, top to bottom, into a perfect agent of the President’s will. It’s a gigantic machine full of tradition and institutional knowledge and long-serving staff and his predecessor’s appointees and old procedures and cases and FSM knows what else.

    But here we are nearly four years in.

    The reason Obama is responsible for the doings of his justice department is that he’s had plenty of time to orient that department to his way of thinking. Either he’s done so, in which case he has set the priorities that led to this, or he hasn’t done so, in which case he has implicitly endorsed the direction in which the department is drifting.

    Nobody’s saying Obama put that young man’s head in the noose and gave him a shove. Nobody worth responding to, anyway.

    But if you reach the conclusion that that prosecutor was overzealous, and given what we know so far that’s not a crazy conclusion to draw, it’s perfectly legitimate to say that the priorities of President Obama’s Department of Justice need some adjustment. The President is as good a person as any to complain to. “The buck stops here.”

  137. 137
    mclaren says:

    The prosecutor in the Swartz case needs to be indicted, convicted, and executed. We can argue about the method of execution. Hanging? Gas chamber? Electric chair?

    That’s the only argument here.

  138. 138
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Warren Terra: Okay, I get that you think what Swartz did was wrong — but decades-in-prison worth wrong?

  139. 139
    mtraven says:

    @Warren Terra: I’m really not very interested in debating the legal details of Swartz’s case today. There are plenty of better-informed people who will be doing that. Even under the worst possible construal, what he did does not merit the threat of 35 years in prison.

    I can’t really let this go by though:

    What Swartz did was like burglarizing a food bank or a soup kitchen to protest the agricultural policies of Archer Daniels Midland. Everyone he directly hurt was on the side of the angels,

    What Swartz did hurt nobody. He removed nobody’s wealth and harmed nobody’s well-being. You gracefully transitioned from his “abusing” JSTOR and MIT (which might be true) to having “hurt” them, which is certainly false.

  140. 140
    Ohio Mom says:

    I swear I only clicked “submit” once!

  141. 141
    mtraven says:

    @MathInPA:

    However, I have to wonder at the irony of an author advocating that scholarly articles, which have both their own technical writing as well as scientific/other research discipline skills and expenses, should be utterly free. I would respectfully disagree with the idea that this is any confirmation of the idea that such things should be free, in any way.

    You seem to be unfamiliar with the economics of academic publishing.

    The real costs of research and writing are born by the authors of articles, and their funders, which in most cases is the public.

    The subscription fees charged by for-profit journals do not go to the authors. They go to publishers who contribute very little in value to the end product. When journals were on paper, this arrangement was somewhat justifiable, since the costs of paper and presses and physical distribution were sigificant. Today, distribution costs are negligible but the institutional inertia of academic publishing has allowed publishers to extract ridiculous rents from the process. I used to work for Elsevier (although not the publishing arm) so I know a bit about this racket.

    This is not to say that Aaron Swartz’s way of protesting this was right, but the system he was protesting is definitely broken. New journals and publishers like PLoS will eventually displace them.

  142. 142
    Narcissus says:

    I had a job in the periodicals department of my university when I was in grad school and it’s a fucking racket

  143. 143
    WaterGirl says:

    @Ohio Mom: I liked your question a lot, so I didn’t mind at all that it was asked 3 times.

  144. 144
    David Koch says:

    @Ohio Mom: but nobody ever gets the max.

    for example, some kid hacked into Palin’s personal email account during the 2008 campaign. He was prosecuted by the feds and faced 50 years of prison. he was convicted and was sentenced to 1 year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....email_hack

    In the Barry Bonds steroid case, he faced 110 years of prison and he was convicted and he received 30 days of house arrest.

  145. 145
    Warren Terra says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    Okay, I get that you think what Swartz did was wrong — but decades-in-prison worth wrong?

    No, not decades-in-prison wrong. MIT and JSTOR backed off entirely, and the federal prosecutor offered him a plea deal for one year in prison, although I don’t know what the probation conditions were, and they could easily have been absurd (no computer use, for example). An admission of guilt and a reconsideration of his methods would satisfy me; adding a year of prison doesn’t make me happy. But when you see claims that he was being threatened with life in the pokey, it’s worth remembering that is a description of the maximum possible penalty if he insisted on pleading not guilty, not a description of the prosecutor’s stated goal.

    I swear I only clicked “submit” once!

    Comments want to be free!

    @mtraven:

    What Swartz did hurt nobody.

    I’m sorry, this isn’t true. If you steal some form of intellectual property and distribute it freely, you haven’t hurt the property owners directly (they still have the files), but you’ve damaged their ability to make money from it. If you do so in a way that takes advantage of a popular, not-for-profit, subsidized IP-distribution channel, you threaten the very existence of that channel; they can’t recoup their operating expenses, and even more importantly the owners of the intellectual property they distribute and even more so other intellectual-property owners are warned not to perpetuate or to enable access through that channel, lest they lose control of their property. JSTOR, and the existence of future resources on a model similar to that of JSTOR, were directly threatened by the idealistic but misguided efforts of Mr. Swartz. And JSTOR, for all its flaws, is a huge boon to our society; you may justly criticize our intellectual-property laws, but JSTOR is a tool to minimize the damage they cause, not a method of that infliction.

    The damages to MIT (trespassing, vandalism, termination of services by their contracted data provider because of Swartz’ abuse) are more direct, shorter-term, and more obvious.

  146. 146

    @Warren Terra:

    I’m not a lawyer; maybe that doesn’t fit the technical definition of “burglary”. The distinction rather escapes me, though.

    “Dowdy Superego” is perhaps not the best response to this poor kid’s pointless, utterly fucking pointless death.

  147. 147
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Warren Terra:

    I’m sorry

    Sorry. That’s the only portion of your comment that’s printable.

    Everything else has nothing to do with anything except the derivative conservatism in your perspective which places property over People.

    Go fuck yourself with some depleted uranium.

  148. 148
    mclaren says:

    @Warren Terra:

    If you steal make unauthorized copies of some form of intellectual property and distribute it freely, you haven’t hurt the property owners directly (they still have the files), but you’ve damaged their ability to make money from it run their corrupt and socially destructive mafia-style racket by illegally and immorally walling off as private property the results of publicly-funded basic scholarship and research.

    There. Fixed that for ya.

    I applaud Aaron Swartz. When he copied millions of JSTOR articles from MIT servers, he performed a huge public service. JSTOR needs to be disbanded and its perpetrators/owners need to be indicted for racketeering. MIT needs to be indicted on criminal charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, interstate wire fraud, extortion, and racketeering.

    Someone else needs to take up where Aaron Swartz left off. All extortion-racket academic publishing scams need to be destroyed in the most public way possible, by siphoning off the millions of articles they illegally and immorally hold behind paywalls as a protection racket, and making that publicly-funded research available to everyone, everywhere, for free.

    Also, cowardly Quislings and bully-worshipers like you need to socially shunned, stripped naked, have their heads shaved, and run through the streets while crowds of jeering onlookers curse you and hurl rotting garbage at you. Bully-worshiping thugs like you need to be evicted from America and denied fire, water, food or shelter within 500 miles of any major American city.

    A thousand Aaron Swartzes should spring up to continue his work. Mass civil disobedience is needed urgently on a vast scale to destroy America’s current unconstitutional immoral mafia-style protection-racket “intellectual property” laws by mass public flouting of said laws in such a huge tidal wave of civil disobedience that they become dead-letter laws as socially discredited and as completely unenforceable as Prohibition.

  149. 149
    Turbulence says:

    I should say, as an MIT alum, I’ll cosign everything Warren Terra has written here.

    @mtraven: What Swartz did hurt nobody. He removed nobody’s wealth and harmed nobody’s well-being. You gracefully transitioned from his “abusing” JSTOR and MIT (which might be true) to having “hurt” them, which is certainly false.

    This doesn’t make any sense. MIT has ~20,000 scholars using its network, including JSTOR and Swarz denied them all access for days and days. Those people were hurt.

    If you think the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is overbroad and has ridiculous penalties, then good for you. I do too. But you should actually learn about the relevant laws under discussion so that you can advocate for their change.

  150. 150
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @mclaren:

    Mclaren, you missed Obots Emma and Watergirl upthread.

    Did you know that Mr. Obama has no responsibility for the behavior of his justice department, even after four years of rule?

  151. 151
    Turbulence says:

    @mclaren: run their corrupt and socially destructive mafia-style racket by illegally and immorally walling off as private property the results of publicly-funded basic scholarship and research.

    Serious question: JSTOR spends real money scanning old journals and making them available on the internet. They’re not making real profits. If they didn’t exist, many fewer people would have access to those journals (i.e., only those who could drive to a few major libraries). Without JSTOR, there’d be much less access to information. How would that be good for anyone?

  152. 152
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Turbulence:

    But you should actually learn about the relevant laws under discussion so that you can advocate for their change.

    But, in the Spirit of that advocacy for change, leave Turbulence out of it, because…………………...THE LAW.……..

  153. 153
    handsmile says:

    Via TPM, “Official Statement from the Family and Partner of Aaron Swartz”

    Our beloved brother, son, friend, and partner Aaron Swartz hanged himself on Friday in his Brooklyn apartment. We are in shock, and have not yet come to terms with his passing.

    Aaron’s insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept injustice as inevitable—these gifts made the world, and our lives, far brighter. We’re grateful for our time with him, to those who loved him and stood with him, and to all of those who continue his work for a better world.

    Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge. He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place. His deeply humane writing touched minds and hearts across generations and continents. He earned the friendship of thousands and the respect and support of millions more.

    Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles.

    Today, we grieve for the extraordinary and irreplaceable man that we have lost.

    Tom Levenson: if you are still reading these comments, would you be willing/able to post a link corroborating your assertion (#51 above) that “MIT did withdraw its claim.” The fourth paragraph of the family’s statement would seem to cast some doubt on that. My reading of it raises the question whether the family would accept that “the indictment was all on the US attorney here.”
    (I hope you realize this is a sincere, non-trolling request, if you care to reply.)

  154. 154
    Warren Terra says:

    @mclaren:
    Your complete inability to achieve anything other than vituperation of people who share many of your goals but disagree with your methods and your proximal targets is utterly par for the course. People like you are a threat to any cause they embrace, inspiring only derision and disgust whenever they are so foolish as to reveal their opinions.

    You assert that the villain in the copyrighting of research articles is the not-for-profit organization that digitizes them and makes them cheaply available to students and researchers, with as their coequal partner in receiving abuse the academic organization that Mr. Swartz chose to burglarize in order to attack them. Apparently, to you these people, and those who espouse their cause, are not trying to ameliorate the problems our current system creates but are instead quislings adding their weight to the boot grinding everyone down. This Manichean obloquy upon those who don’t join you in the bravely but emptily confrontational pronouncements you declaim from your comfortable sofa is exactly what I expect from you, and no better.

  155. 155
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    CHRIST !!!!!

    The Loobertarian Trolls are out in force to justify…..The Law.

    Any Hasbara trolls want to chime in?

  156. 156
    mclaren says:

    @Turbulence:

    This doesn’t make any sense. MIT has ~20,000 scholars using its network, including JSTOR and Swarz [sic] denied them all access for days and days. Those people were hurt.

    You’re an ignorant incompetent sociopath and liar. Much worse disruptions to large computer networks like MIT’s are routinely caused by the fools and clowns who run those networks and crash their servers due to their gross ineptitude and clueless arrogance.

    In any case, the “~20,000 scholars” allegedly working at MIT are using public resources to generate publicly-funded knowledge. Most or all of them are getting paid by grants, stipends, and using publicly-funded infrastructure to produce their work. These people should be down on their knees with gratitude that they’re being paid with public monies to do their research. In many other parts of the world, public funds don’t pay for this kind of research, and the scholars have to support themselves on their own, without grants or low-interest college loans funded by the government.

    You’re a sociopathic nit, an ignorant fool, and an excellent poster boy for everything that’s wrong with the elite colleges in Shithole America. With any luck, you’ll graduate MIT and get recruited by Goldman Sachs as a quant on Wall Street and then you’ll promptly bankrupt ’em. I look forward to seeing it.

    You, sir, are proof that the worst rise to the top in Shithole America. You are a lump of excrement stuck in the craw of academia. You are a suppurating hemorrhoid in the arse of America’s so-called elite, who are almost without exception today fools and sociopaths. You are living proof that America’s self-styled intellectual leaders represent a cesspool of incompetence and self-centered arrogant folly unequalled since Gaius Caligula appointed a horse as a Roman senator.

  157. 157
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @mclaren:

    You are living proof that America’s self-styled intellectual leaders represent a cesspool of incompetence and self-centered arrogant folly unequalled since Gaius Caligula appointed a horse as a Roman senator.

    I must point out you seem to forget Caligula had every legal right to do so…..

  158. 158
    eemom says:

    @Warren Terra:

    fwiw, you’re on my list of intelligent comments on this thread.

    And you know what’s ironic about fucktards like mclaren, and Machine Gun, aka Ben Franklin would fucking roll over in his grave? I didn’t agree with Cacti’s harsh comments up above, but they are totally illustrating his point about ignorant dipshits who call themselves liberals and their moronic mindset that anyone who sticks it to “the Establishment” is by definition a hero.

  159. 159
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @eemom:

    ignorant dipshits who call themselves liberals and their moronic mindset that anyone sticks it to “the Establishment” is by definition a hero.

    You seem intelligent, so mayhaps you’ll come around, in time.

  160. 160
    Turbulence says:

    @mclaren:

    Can you please answer the question I asked you above? It was very simple.

    You’re willing to rage on at me for paragraph after paragraph. Surely you could spare a sentence or two answering my very simple question. Unless that would be too hard for you. You are capable of doing more than mindlessly raging, right?

    You, sir, are proof that the worst rise to the top in Shithole America. You are a lump of excrement stuck in the craw of academia. You are a suppurating hemorrhoid in the arse of America’s so-called elite, who are almost without exception today fools and sociopaths. You are living proof that America’s self-styled intellectual leaders represent a cesspool of incompetence and self-centered arrogant folly unequalled since Gaius Caligula appointed a horse as a Roman senator.

    All this because I asked you a question?

  161. 161
    mclaren says:

    @Warren Terra:

    Scream your lies louder, sociopath. The more you talk, the more nakedly clear it becomes to everyone that here in Shithole America, our so-called “betters” are fools and sociopathic incompetents.

    Of course, we already knew that, courtesy of the gaggle of elite-educated clowns surrounding Obama — the clowns who doggedly pursued austerity policies in defiance of 80s years of basic economic knowledge, and who now profess themselves astounded that the U.S. economy has nosedived into yet another recession (according to at least three prominent economists).

    We already realized by early 2009 that the elite-educated zitbrains who crashed the world economy were the top of the heap only in their arrogance and ignorance and incompetence…but it’s wonderful to get another refresher course in the addlepated empty-headed circular reasoning and total absence of basic knowledge of law or history exhibited by a typical elite-educated clown who passes through the golden anus of America’s elite educational institutions.

    You assert that the villain in the copyrighting of research articles is the not-for-profit organization that digitizes them and makes them cheaply available to students and researchers, with as their coequal partner in receiving abuse the academic organization that Mr. Swartz chose to burglarize in order to attack them.

    Thank you for telling that particularly ignorant lie!

    Let’s take a look at how “not-for-profit” JSTOR actually is. If you don’t happen to be paying $10,000 per year to $43,000 per year for a college education, this is what you get when you try to access an article through JSTOR:

    A demand for $35 for a five-page article.

    So much for “not-for-profit.” Notice, ladies and gentlemen that our arrogant incompetent elite-educated MIT fool Warren Terra is so clueless and so stupid that he doesn’t realize that Aaron Swartz was under indictment for allegedly “stealing a hundred million dollars worth intellectual property” from JSTOR.

    So riddle us this, MIT genius: if JSTOR is such a not-for-profit organization, how could the intellectual property he copied possibly have been worth 100 million dollars?

    Of course the ignorant incompetent fool Warren Terra has no answer for this question, as we would expect since MIT pulled down its pants and squatted and micturated him onto the pavement with the full benefits of an MIT education: blind hubris that makes him blissfully unaware of the self-contradictions in his own garbled reasoning; shocking ignorance of the absurd devolution of copyright law by which, only a few short years ago, prior to 1978, Aaron Swartz’s actions would not even have been a crime because the length of copyright has been grotesquely and artificially and absurdly lengthened at the behest of bribing thieving giant monopoly corporations like Disney; and appalling incompetence in both scholarship and basic logical reasoning.

    All standard stuff for the ignorant incompetent fools graduated by America’s so-called “elite” universities. When you hear the clueless clown Leon Panetta proclaim that America needs to increase its defense budget to protect us from our enemies like India (which is actually an ally), that’s the voice of America’s elite education speaking.

    When you hear woolly-headed caitiffs like Tim Geithner sneer that stimulus funding in the wake of a major recession is useless because “a stimulus is like a sugar high” (in flagrant defiance of 80 years of economic knowledge and experience), that’s the voice of America’s elite education speaking.

    And when you hear George W. Bush jeering that “the constitution is just a piece of goddamn paper,” that’s the voice of America’s elite education speaking.

    Thank you, Warren Terra, for giving us an up close and personal view of the vast panorama of ignorance and folly which passe for “elite education” in Shithole America. It shows all of us even more clearly than the 2008-9 economic collapse or the 2003 Iraq War or Harvard constitutional scholar Barack Obama’s order to murder U.S. citizens without even charging them with a crime, just how deep the alleged intellectual crème de la crème of the United Snakes of Amnesia has sunk into a bottomless social chum bucket of folly, ignorance and self-congratulatory imbecility.

  162. 162
    Cassidy says:

    @mclaren: Thank you for being you and reminding me I needed to add another name to the pie filter.

  163. 163
    eemom says:

    @handsmile:

    as a general, and sincere, observation unrelated to the present discussion, permit me to say, sir, that you are one of the classiest acts ever to comment on this blog.

    IOW, dare I say…..yes, I’m almost 100 years old, so why not: a real gentleman.

  164. 164
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Cassidy:

    And, thank you for your sagacious contribution.

  165. 165
    Cassidy says:

    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) Says:

    There once was a man from Nantucket
    Whose pie was so moist he would…

    It briefly flashed my name before the filter kicked in so:

    1) Don’t hurt yourself trying to form coherent thoughts. While I do believe that anything can happen, I wouldn’t take that bet.

    2) I’m really not paying attention to anything you have to say. I have better things to do than paying attention to holier than thou purity trolls with a strong streak of bigot.

    3) Go jump in front of a fast moving bus, preferably before you pass on your defective DNA.

  166. 166
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @mclaren:


    Scream your lies louder, sociopath

    He’s not screaming. He’s purrfectly rational, and objective. That’s the same cool, collected persona we need. It keeps the necessary comity, kinda like carbon-monoxide poisoning, for total population control.

  167. 167
    General Stuck says:

    This blog is hard time on a prison Psych ward. Or should be.
    Jeebus the fuck Christ, on a RIP thread.

  168. 168
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Cassidy:

    Well, I certainly hope that means pie, in my future….

  169. 169
    mclaren says:

    @eemom: Sociopaths praising sociopaths.

    Standard operating procedure for the sinkhole of Balloon Juice commentariat.

    Warren Terra proclaims that JSTOR is a non-for-profit organization, when in reality JSTOR charges outrageously exorbitant fees of $35 and up for a couple of pages of printout — for which JSTOR itself paid nothing! Academic publishing today is paid for by the professors and grad students who do the research, NOT by organizations like JSTOR.

    Naturally, Warren Terra’s obvious and flagrant lie earns your fulsome praise. As we would expect. Nothing delights eemom more than an outright lie combined with garbled logic and scrambled reasoning. Birds of a feather, as the saying goes.

    Both eemom and Warren Terra blissfully ignore the well-documented fact that JSTOR itself repeatedly begged the U.S. government not to prosecute Aaron Swartz. Even the greed-choked thugs at JSTOR realized that what Swartz did wasn’t remotely deserving of a 30-year prison sentence.

    But of course both eemom and Warren Terra are sociopaths, and the key to any sociopath’s mindset is that the sociopath yearns to watch others suffer, regardless of the reason. The sociopath doesn’t care why other people get crushed and destroyed, the sociopath just wants to leer with sadistic voyeurism and delectate in the victim’s agony.

    That’s why both eemom and Warren Terra applaud the government’s insane decision to prosecute Aaroz Swartz on trumped-up charges that would embarrass even the prosecutor in a Stalinist show trial in the 1930s. That’s why both eemom and Warren Terra delight in MIT’s sadistically greed-choked insistence on prosecuting Aaron Swartz — because they just wanted to see Swartz sent to prison and get butt-raped by Columbian drug mules. They don’t give a damn about justice, they just want to watch an innocent victim suffer.

    And that’s why eemom and Warren Terra have provided no facts or arguments to defense the indefensible outrage of Swartz’s punitively vengeful and probably unconstitutional (violating the 8th amendment against cruel and unusual punishment) prosecution for trival crimes…which, prior to the corrupt rewriting of U.S. copyright laws 1978, were not even crimes at all, and which today are not crimes in most other countries in the world.

  170. 170
    Cassidy says:

    170 Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) Says:

    That all may be so, but I notice that you didn’t say anything about pie.
    Reply
    January 12th, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    171 mclaren Says:

    Ashes to ashes, funk to funky, we know Major Tom’s a pie junky.

    This makes the rye taste so much better.

  171. 171
    Li says:

    @Emma: It’s hard to imagine how you think this doesn’t fall on Obama’s doorstep. His DOJ chose to not prosecute the slimeballs at HSBC who made billions being the favored banker of mass murderers, terrorists and drug lords, but did choose to prosecute this case for 35-50 years in the slammer. His DOJ is also choosing to prosecute cases like seeking 35 years in prison for war protestors armed with spray paint, and ruining the life of one whistle-blower after another with vindictive prosecution. While, let’s not forget, promoting war criminals who get the whistle blown on them to higher and higher positions.

    Either Obama has control over his DOJ, or he is an empty figurehead with no real control over the US government. I don’t think there is any middle ground here.

    If it is the former, then prosecuting activists and whistleblowers while protecting war criminals, torturers, and criminal bankers is the policy of the Obama administration. If it is the latter, then our government has gone rogue and is acting outside of their authority and we are at the (not so tender) mercy of the unelected. Own that. It’s the situation we find ourselves in.

  172. 172
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Cassidy:

    You should try ergot, instead of plain ol’ rye. Even rye whisky would be better.

  173. 173
    Corey says:

    Here’s a dumb thing ABL wrote about Swartz a few years ago: http://www.balloon-juice.com/2.....ail-fraud/

  174. 174
    Turbulence says:

    @mclaren: Hey mclaren, is it really so hard to answer the question I asked here?

    I mean, is the question too difficult for you? Do you want to write another few thousand words spewing your rage-gasm before you get to it?

  175. 175
    mclaren says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin):

    He’s not screaming. He’s purrfectly rational, and objective. That’s the same cool, collected persona we need. It keeps the necessary comity, kinda like carbon-monoxide poisoning, for total population control.

    Well, Warren Terra is trying hard to seem rational. But when you tease apart his garbled threads of logic, you realize within about 15 seconds that nothing Warren Terra says makes any sense at all. It’s a word salad composed of buzzwords like “stealing” that don’t apply here at all.

    I mean…think about it: Warren Terra claims that Aaron Swartz “stole” intellectual property from JSTOR. But stealing has a clear and well understood definition: it means “to deprive someone of possession of something.” If I steal your car, it means you have been deprived of the use of the car.

    But Aaron Swartz stole nothing. No one anywhere was ever deprived of the use of anything by Aaron Swartz’s copying of JSTOR articles. JSTOR still had the articles, anyone who wanted to access those JSTOR articles could still do so. Aaron Swartz did not “steal” anything.

    And then, in a master display of self-contradictory incoherence, Warren Terra in the very next sentence goes on to admit that, yes, Aaronz Swartz didn’t actually steal anything (even though he claim in the previous sentence that Swartz did steal the JSTOR articles) and then Warren Terra goes on to dump a bunch of garbled smoke-and-mirrors flim-flam word salad in so as to convince us that even though Warren Terra admits Swartz never actually stole anything, somehow, Swartz actually did in effect steal the JSTOR articles.

    Warren Terra’s posts aren’t rational. They aren’t cool or calm. They’re the gibberings of an authoritarian sociopath who wants any upstart brutally punished who dares challenge the corrupt and bribery-generated copyright status quo…

    …A status quo of copyright law which, by the way, the rest of the world indiginantly eschews, and regards as demented, obscene, outrageous, unacceptable, and a thinly-disguised form of mafia protection racket.

  176. 176
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @mclaren:

    When I say cool, I mean dispassionate, or rather without any normal human emotion,

    He thinks it elevates his pov, when in reality, it makes him cold.

    He has only The Law. Absent that touchstone of complacent reality, he has nothing.

    That is all. Carry on.

  177. 177
    mclaren says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin):

    The irony, though, is that sociopaths like Warren Terra don’t even have the law on their side. Because when you look at the law governing copyright outside the United States, no other country recognizes as absurd an extension of copyright as America does, to 95 years. The rest of the world regards that as insane, and rightly so.

    Moreover, even within America, copyright law prior to 1978 ended copyrights after two terms of 28 years, and then only if the copyright was renewed.

    Lastly, the eighth amendment of the constitution explicitly prohibits the kind of punitive prosecution to which Aaron Swartz was subjected. 30 years in prison for copying some files is insane and clearly violates the cruel-and-unusual clause.

    So the law is against Warren Terra here, as well as common sense, the facts, basic logic, and the entirety of legal history. But facts and logic mean nothing to the products of America’s elite universities…as the Iraq War and the fumbling stumbling bumbling bungling response of elite-educated economists like Time Geithner and Ben Bernanke to the 2008-9 financial crisis proves so fulsomely.

  178. 178
    Turbulence says:

    @mclaren: don’t even have the law on their side.

    Ah, I see you don’t understand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and how it has nothing at all to do with copyright law. Ah well.

    Are you still too terrified to answer my question? Are you quaking in fear? Or will you get to it when your current rage-gasm expires?

  179. 179
    mclaren says:

    @Cassidy:

    Cassidy says: “I like to molest underaged girls.”

    Better be careful about that, buckaroo. When you tell lies in public about what other people have said, someone else may do the same to you.

  180. 180
    eemom says:

    @Corey:

    That actually is a very interesting thread.

    And there is a lot of interesting discussion that could be had on this one — but it’s late in the day, it’s been buried under football and other stupid shit, and Squeaky Fromme mclaren is in full metal psycho-meltdown mode, so never mind.

  181. 181
    Ted & Hellen says:

    IANAL, so…for those who know, is it possible Swartz’s family can successfully sue the Justice Department for hounding him?

  182. 182
    Ohio Mom says:

    Sorry, not impressed by JSTOR being “non-profit.” Most 501c3s are legitimate charitable organizations but others are scams. When I see things like this, JSTOR starts sounding pretty avaricious: “Universities have to pay thousands of dollars every year to read their own research online.” http://www.theatlantic.com/bus.....ch/251649/

    Also not impressed with the observation that some people were inconvenienced for a few days. That’s the nature of protest acts, they inconvenience people.

  183. 183
    Ohio Mom says:

    Sorry, not impressed by JSTOR being “non-profit.” Most 501c3s are legitimate charitable organizations but others are scams. When I see things like this, JSTOR starts sounding pretty avaricious: “Universities have to pay thousands of dollars every year to read their own research online.” http://www.theatlantic.com/bus.....ch/251649/

    Also not impressed with the observation that some people were inconvenienced for a few days. That’s the nature of protest acts, they inconvenience people.

  184. 184
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Warren Terra:

    No, not decades-in-prison wrong. MIT and JSTOR backed off entirely, and the federal prosecutor offered him a plea deal for one year in prison, although I don’t know what the probation conditions were, and they could easily have been absurd (no computer use, for example).

    You seem to be on better terms with the prosecutor than most of us, or perhaps you just have your own set of facts that don’t comport with what we know. If it’s the former, ask him if he’s made any progress in scrubbing the blood from his hands.

    Steve Heymann is a careerist thug; American taxpayers pay his salary. Let’s not have that happen any more.

  185. 185
    eemom says:

    Here’s an interesting note for the “I blame Obama” crowd. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last year issued a decision limiting the scope of the statute under which Schwarz was prosecuted, creating a split in the Circuits such that, if the DOJ had appealed to the Supreme Court, the Court almost certainly would have taken the case — and, pursuant to the CW among the legal geniuses on this blog and elsewhere, the DOJ would almost certainly have won.

    However, the DOJ did not appeal.

  186. 186
    handsmile says:

    […returning here, and finding I must be about to be Raptured…]

    @eemom:

    Thank you for such a moving and unexpected gift (especially from one who enjoys such a formidable reputation here, as well as one rather a bit shy of 100). I am deeply grateful.

  187. 187
    mclaren says:

    @eemom:

    Here’s an interesting note for the “I blame Obama” crowd. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last year issued a decision limiting the scope of the statute under which Schwarz was prosecuted, creating a split in the Circuits such that, if the DOJ had appealed to the Supreme Court, the Court almost certainly would have taken the case — and, pursuant to the CW among the legal geniuses on this blog and elsewhere, the DOJ would almost certainly have won.

    How wonderful that you’ve now developed mind-reading powers and clairvoyance in addition to all your other superpowers.

    Rule of thumb: anyone who claims to know how the current federal appeals courts or Supreme Court will rule under the influence of all those Reagan- and Bush-appointed far-right Clarence-Thomas-type fringe lunatics is either hallucinating or delusional.

    No one predicted the Citizens v. United ruling. No one. Not you. Not anyone. On the other hand, a huge majority of self-styled ‘experts’ just like you confidently predicted that the Supreme Court would strike down the ACA.

    Can you provide us, Madame Psychic, with a list of predictions of federal court and supreme court rulings which you got correct, so that we can objectively judge the reliability of your mind-reading and fortunetelling skills?

    Of course you can’t. You’re just another loud-mouthed sociopath who favors the long-debunked method of argument by empty assertion.

    Got to hand it to: your comments continue to be interesting — in a scary forgot-to-take-the-Haldol kind of way.

    Keep it up. You’re now well into “worse reputation than syphilis and cockroaches” and still heading downward. The more you post, the less your credibility. Go for it, kiddo. Flip the safety off your foot and aim it at your own mouth and go for the gusto.

  188. 188
    mclaren says:

    @Turbulence:

    Serious question: JSTOR spends real money scanning old journals and making them available on the internet. They’re not making real profits.

    JSTOR is making tons of money. They’re making drug-dealer-levels of money. JSTOR demands $35 and $45 to allow access to 3 or 4 badly-scanned pages of old journals. This is profit on the level of the Mexican drug cartels, except that it’s technically legal.

    If they didn’t exist, many fewer people would have access to those journals (i.e., only those who could drive to a few major libraries).

    Thank you for telling that stupid lie. Now I’m going to explain to you simply and clearly, in words as monosyllabic as possible (whoops!) why and how you’re lying, and why your lie is so stupid.

    There exists something called “interlibrary loan.” I live in a small town. In my small town, the local library has an interlibrary loan service. This service applies to individual articles as well as books. I can request (and often have requested) interlibrary loan of obscure journal articles, sometimes as old as the early 19th century, from the collections of major university libraries throughout the united states. The total cost is $3. That’s the cost to xerox or print out the micofiche of that journal article and mail it to me.

    Yet JSTOR charges $35 or more merely to allow access to data which already exists on their servers.

    And yet you try to claim with a straight face that JSTOR “makes no profit’ — and that without JSTOR, I wouldn’t be able to access those old journal articles (even though I don’t have JSTOR and can access ’em through interlibrary loan, and at only a fraction of the exorbitant prices JSTOR charges).

    Now let’s move on to the second part of your lie — namely, the portion of your ignorant and foolish lie in which you falsely and ignorantly claim

    Without JSTOR, there’d be much less access to information. How would that be good for anyone?

    The only people who have access to JSTOR right now are the people who are paying tuition at colleges, or who work at colleges. No one else has access. Even if you wander into the free-use computers at a major university and try to access the articles, you cannot do so. You will be asked to provide a student ID. And without one, you will never ever ever be able to access that article via JSTOR, even if you say at a university computer with a university which has JSTOR acecss to that journal article.

    So what JSTOR really is, isn’t “access,” it’s a method of preventing access. It’s a scam which generates artificial scarcity in order to confect a phony market for a wildly overpriced product which would otherwise not exist.

    I say, shut JSTOR down. Indict all the people who set it up and profit from it and work at it. Put ’em all in prison on racketeering charges. Then, in the meantime, while the ever-growing open access movement increases public availability of journal articles and while the academic equivalent of the Gutenberg Project for research journal articles gets underway, people can do what I do — order xeroxes or microfiche printouts of journal articles for $3 a pop.

    Right now, JSTOR and mafia operations like it (and Elsevier is much, much worse than JSTOR: JSTOR is mild compared to the thieving monopolistic crooks at Elsevier) are working hard to prevent something like the Gutenberg Project for resarch journals, because these sadistic and totalitarian monopolies exert total copyright control over the material which would otherwise we scanned in by volunteers and put online — but now cannot be, because of America’s perverted copyright laws and the bribed legislation which now mandates insanely draconian criminal penalties for trivial unauthorized copying of digital information like ancient research journal articles form the 1940s.

  189. 189
    eemom says:

    @mclaren:

    a huge majority of self-styled ‘experts’ just like you confidently predicted that the Supreme Court would strike down the ACA.

    Congratulations. As anyone who ever read a single one of the many BJ threads on the ACA decision (before it was handed down) on which I commented will tell you, your self-caricature is now complete.

  190. 190
    ulee says:

    Rest in Peace, Aaron. I am so sorry to hear that you have left us. Depression is a terrible thing and I hate that it stole you. I did not know you, but I am very upset to read that you have left us so suddenly. My thoughts are with you and your family and everyone that loved you.

  191. 191
    Turbulence says:

    @mclaren: The only people who have access to JSTOR right now are the people who are paying tuition at colleges, or who work at colleges. No one else has access.

    Actually, I can walk to MIT, login as a guest with my laptop and access JSTOR for free. Even though I’m not a student. Anyone else can too.

    Also, everyone in Africa can get free access to JSTOR. Also, non-university-affiliated people can get free access to a few JSTOR articles per week.

    So, in conclusion, you are completely wrong. As usual.

  192. 192
    Jack the Second says:

    @Another Halocene Human: While more traditional white collar crime — stealing from pension funds and the like — is committed by insiders against outsiders, and thus not really a crime, hacking — stealing IP — is a white collar crime committed by outsiders against insiders. Hence, it is even worse than normal crime, and must be punished even more harshly.

  193. 193
    xian says:

    i like this trend where our trolls have started attacking each other

  194. 194
    xian says:

    @Cassidy: it’s the mouth frothing. even when i agree with the thrust of one of its points, the constant resort to the rhetoric of sadism, totalitarianism, and apocalypse sets my teeth on edge and has me backing slowly toward the door.

  195. 195
  196. 196
    xian says:

    @Ohio Mom: no problem. this stuff is complex, and having the usual pompous blowhards pronouncing that something is obviously horrible or heroic etc doesn’t help much

  197. 197
    Trixie Belden says:

    @David Koch:

    but nobody ever gets the max

    Well, that raises a question: why even have these grotesque sentences?

    for example, some kid hacked into Palin’s personal email account during the 2008 campaign. He was prosecuted by the feds and faced 50 years of prison

    I thought that was a ludicrous maximum sentence, too

    In the Barry Bonds steroid case, he faced 110 years of prison

    as was that one.

    Why are they even allowed to threaten with such appalling sentences? It must be to give them the ability to bully. It would come as no comfort to me, were I in such a situation, to hear someone say “well, nobody gets the maximum”. It’s out there isn’t it? It has to be a possibility, or they wouldn’t be able to say it. All I know is, if I was in a situation where the words “30-year sentence” were being thrown around, I would be terrified.

  198. 198

    Because I have very good reason to understand, my heartfelt sympathies are given to this family. They have become members of a club of those who only understand and it is a club no one should wish to belong, you can empathize but that’s about it.

    The act of civil disobedience includes and understanding that a government has the ability and authority to try to protect itself, which includes its laws. You sign up for that. When I signed up for the draft the Vietnam war was in operation and I’d decided that I would not kill people for the reasons put forward. I accepted that the government would put me in prison and that it wouldn’t be… well, a good thing. The stupid luck of a Lottery took me out of that situation, but I had plenty of time in between to contemplate just what I’d committed to and I sure didn’t like the outcome. For me, I was right and I’d get to pay for it. They also weren’t offering to lock people like me up for most of their lives – and that is something to consider in a crime like this.

    I will also mention that one will fare much better if they are too big to fail.

  199. 199
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    I will also mention that one will fare much better if they are too big to fail.

    But you MISUNDERSTAND.

    It is all so very COMPLEX, you see.

    Best to trust in DL and move on, citizen. Nothing to see here either.

  200. 200

    At least once a day for several years some one accesses this article of mine and when I see that it is like hitting a poorly healed scar on a doorknob or some such. When somebody asks me how many kids I have I get bumped and usually I only say one stepson rather than two because that leads to more stuff like where do they live and if I say only one is alive the friendly person feels like shit.

    I leave the thing up because several people have told me that it dissuaded them from that course, maybe that is something he gives back, anyhow it is worth the jar of pain when I see it hit. I don’t read it but if I see someone has gone to comments I look to see if there is a cry for help.

    I’m rapidly closing in on a quarter century clean and sober so I know that a shitheels (nothing to do with Aaron) can reform unless they stop it all. No one can read the mind of a dead person and a note may not be at all explicative. What you can try to do is understand that it is like throwing a very large rock into a small pool and the ripples hit and may well swamp the unintended. You do not “get over it” about the best you can do is get by it and keep on.

  201. 201
    tradegy says:

    this is a tragedy.
    But I don’t think he was mentally ill.
    He was a brilliant mind, and he chose death because he could not face the pain and suffering that was coming his way as a result of the violations of law he chose to do.

    To deny him the ownership of his choices is to disrespect the gifted mind he possessed.

  202. 202

    […] above from his blog in November 2007 (via Balloon Juice). And a good, though way-sad read at […]

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