Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz was a programmer, writer, political organizer and internet activist. At 14,  Swartz helped create RSS, the nearly ubiquitous tool that allows users to subscribe to on line information.  He later became a steadfast crusader to make that information freely available. He was involved in the founding of  the organizations like  creative commons and social site like Reddit.  On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested by MIT PD  on state breaking and entering charges, because he systematically downloaded academic journal  articles from JSTOR. Federal prosecutors later charged him with two counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the computer fraud and abuse act, carrying a cumulative maximum penalty of $1 million in fines, 35 years in prison but he was later released on the $ 100,000 bail. On the evening of January 11, 2013, Swartz was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment by his friend, medical examiner reported that he had hanged himself but no suicide note was found. ( The New York Times Article).

There could be many reasons behind his mysterious demise because he left no note before apparently hanging himself. After the owner of the JSTOR sued him  there were several talks and meetings between him and the owner and Law suit was settled , but then later on Federal  government prosecuted him with heavy fines and decades of imprisonment . There were secret service agents assigned just  to break him down, may be they thought that Aaron knew a lot more than just the academic journals, or they considered Aaron as a threat to the system as he was challenging the federal government for their strict policies of availability of information to average citizens. So there are two possibilities regarding the suicide , either he was forced to commit suicide or may be he just gave up, as per his last conference where he stated that the UNITED STATES VS AARON SWARTZ  was at least one battle he was no longer up for fighting. (The Brilliant Life and Tragic Death Of Aaron Swartz, Rolling Stone Article)

  The kind of property that results from the fruits of mental labour is called intellectual property and our legal system provides certain rights and protections for owners of property. Rights and protections for owners of intellectual property are based on federal patent, trademark and copyright laws and state trade secret laws. Every firm owners have different policies towards their copy right laws but they all are based on the federal restrictions passed by congress. If Aaron had something against this law which clearly he did, so he was supposed to do it wisely and legally but not by breaking the law itself. On the other hand all the data he downloaded was only journals nothing top secret so why Federal government was pushing it so hard to prosecute him?? as a result he gave up in the end …

SOURCES

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/the-brilliant-life-and-tragic-death-of-aaron-swartz-20130215

http://www.aipla.org/about/iplaw/Pages/default.aspx

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