Shocking news: Moments ago former Demand Progress Executive Director Aaron Swartz was indicted by the US government. As best as we can tell, he is being charged with allegedly downloading too many journal articles from the Web. The government contends that downloading so many journal articles constitutes felony computer hacking and should be punished with time in prison. We disagree.
The charges are made all the more senseless by the fact that the alleged victim has settled any claims against Aaron, explained they've suffered no loss or damage, and asked the government not to prosecute.
I've had firsthand personal experience in how hard it is to get prosecutors to file charges against someone even when there is a victim willing to step up and say they've been victimized. That they would go to the effort of prosecuting someone like Aaron without a victim is simply mind boggling. Either these people are complete morons, or there's something sinister going on behind the scenes.
Here is JSTOR's statement about the case.
Did he mess with the wrong people? (a giant group of lawyers, showing how many law review articles are written by scholars in a for-pay manner: "In conjunction with Shireen Barday, he downloaded and analyzed 441,170 law review articles to determine the source of their funding; the results were published in the Stanford Law Review." See http://www.stanfordlawreview.org/content/article/punitive-damages-remunerated-research-and-legal-profession
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