First, the Analogy IS correct. Reg's account is incomplete and misleading.
The correct accounts of the facts (and see wired link as well)
He did have legal access to those documents as a guest on the MIT network for a limited time (14 days). Though even at Harvard, he had access to JSTOR. He started the automated downloading script. JSTOR then decided to block his IP address. Only after a cat and mouse game did he decide to use the MIT network closet to evade the sysadmins.
“This makes no sense,” the group's executive director, David Segal, said in a statement. “It’s like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library.”
Sorry, but didn't Schwartz break in to a networking closet and gained access to a network/server where he was not specifically granted access?
That's criminal trespass.
But that's not in the charges. There's nothing to do with criminal trespassing of property at all, perhaps because he did need to break into any property to gain access to the closet. Apparently it was just in the basement of a building. All the actual charges deal with "hacking" (Wire Fraud, Computer Fraud, Unlawfully Obtaining Information from a Protected Computer, etc) but none of that actually deals with real hacks or breaking of systems to obtain confidential info i.e. password cracking, security exploits; all of it stems from the idea of evading enforcement of the TOS.
Second, people are jumping to the wrong conclusions:
JSTOR considers Mr. Swartz to be a criminal:
Please show where it mentions or even implies "JSTOR considers Mr. Swartz to be a criminal". Hint: you won't find it. They simply detailed the incident and merely reported the case the government filed against him.
“It’s even more strange because the alleged victim [JSTOR] has settled any claims against Aaron, explained they’ve suffered no loss or damage, and asked the government not to prosecute,” Segal said.
JSTOR doesn’t go quite as far in its statement on the prosecution — though there are clear hints that they were not the ones who wanted a prosecution, and that they were subpoenaed to testify at the grand jury hearing by the federal government."
4) Why in the name of fuck would you assume he's innocent when all the evidence suggests he isn't? He tried to sell the documents he obtained. Were they his to sell? Was the money going to save orphaned baby seal kittens who were starving in africa (free steve biko)?
Please show me anywhere it says "he tried to sell the documents" or where he was to profit from them in any way?
"The indictment alleges that Swartz, at the time a fellow at Harvard University, intended to distribute the documents on peer-to-peer networks. That did not happen, however, and all the documents have been returned to JSTOR.
Contacted by e-mail, Swartz declined to comment on what he was planning to do with the documents. But he pointed to his bio in the Demand Progress statement, which notes that "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." ''
He has done the exact same thing as JSTOR before of mass-downloading documents with PACER, a court record search system:
"Swartz went to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals library in Chicago and installed a small PERL script he had written. The code cycled sequentially through case numbers, requesting a new document from PACER every three seconds. In this manner, Swartz got nearly 20 million pages of court documents, which his script uploaded to Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing service."