Petition asking MIT to apologize for pursuing Aaron Swartz; hackerspaces contributing to projects Aaron worked on

Noah Swartz (brother of Aaron) writes, "The MIT society for open science has made a petition asking for an apology from MIT: (we understand that there is an investigation, but the thought process is to put more pressure on the institution) A number of hackerspaces are going to work on projects that Aaron worked on or that are in the spirit of his work.


    1. “Legal”…? Certainly!

      “Right”….?  Well now, that’s the question at the heart of the matter. Lots of  people (myself included) think that the “law” in this case is foul and hideously unjust. 

      My thought: MIT should have stepped in and urged restraint of what can only be called a vindictive, sadistic, and venal  process in the federal prosecutor’s office. To the extent that did not happen represents an institutional failure and disgrace.

      So, yeah, I would definitely say that MIT bears some responsibility here. That they are openly addressing it is to their credit. That no such thing seems to be emerging from the US Attorney’s office in Boston speaks volumes about the root problem.

      1. DAs have a lot of power over people’s lives and that power can corrupt some.  I think that’s what I saw in this case and in some others that I know of.  DAs get a god complex where they simply lose perspective and seek only to destroy a target because they can.  Rather than spend time and effort to see the best manner in which to address an issue that neither destroys the productive and beneficial talents of an individual and weigh the likelihood that they will lead good lives, they simply see only one direct route of action – the easy one – the one that maximizes punishment.  It’s almost this universal opening move of asking for the moon expecting to only get halfway and fearing to ask for halfway because you might only get a smaller fraction even.  In that process, the real victims are the Jason Swartzes of the world who get caught in an overreaching net by over zealous and misdirected DAs.  Jason Swartzes are easy to catch because they are not true criminals.  Police and DA like to round these people whose offenses need to be put through some creative constructionism in order to arrive at conclusions such as the 30-years and 13 Felony charges that issued from the Justice dept. 
        My faith in the justice system, from law enforcement to the courts, has evaporated.  Not just because of Jason.  But because I’ve seen this before.  Because of Daniel Echols. Because of so many others. 

    2. Not ridiculous at all. JSTOR saw the error of their ways and declined to prosecute. MIT did all it could to aid the prosecution. They do bear responsibility.

    3. That must be why they handed over all their evidence and resources without so much as a court order. “Go nuts, guys!”

    4. Groklaw posted a detailed article about how MIT may have played a more significant role in Aaron Schwartz’s arrest than initially reported:
      Yes, MIT had a legal claim but what you fail to understand is not all laws are just. It wasn’t that long ago, just a couple of generations, that it was perfectly legal to restrict people of color to designated areas in public spaces.

    5. Bad semantics here. You mean “Somebody at MIT, with nominal authority to do so, pursued this claim, leaving just about everyone else at MIT stunned and outraged.”

    6. That is not the point. The issue is one of proportionality. Nobody claims Aaron didn’t deserve some punishment. To that end,  Aaron’s lawyers had a settlement worked out that JStore signed off on and the Justice Department would have went with, but MIT would not sign off on it. The lack of signing off on the settlement, provided the Justice Department with incentive to continue with it’s case and its draconian form of punishment. I could kill somebody based on recklessly behavior and possibly received a lesser punishment. 

  1. JSTOR wanted the charges dropped and their lawyer tried to get the prosecutor to drop them. JSTOR also signed off on a plea deal. MIT did not apparently.
    A real question is that given that Aaron was a Harvard Fellow in 2011, and since then he
    had the right to download JSTOR articles, did he actually break the law? Did he even violate the JSTOR terms of service agreement?

    1. Is it because he used a script that automated the download process of the academic articles that somehow turned a legal time-consuming manual process into an illegal automated fast process?

      1.  —nothing illegal about it. And if people are  criminally charged for violating service agreements, well then, the U.S. will have to expand its prison system exponentially. Once there was a time when a user would be banned or maybe suspended for a week. In fact, the internet is absolutely packed with these “felons”.

  2. was down yesterday because it got attacked by Anonymous. There’s a good chance this petition won’t be around for long.

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