back to article Anger grows over the death of Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz's death has sent shockwaves through the internet community, but among the mourning and tributes there's a growing undercurrent of anger that an enormously gifted young man may have been hounded to his death. Aaron Swartz Swartz speaking against SOPA/PIPA last year Swartz, who helped write the RSS standard at …

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Re: Not a single "noble cause"

Oh no, I wouldn't accuse Lessig of being a shill, merely a useful idiot. A sort of George Bernard Shaw of intellectual property. If one is naive enough one may be funded by the bad guys and still retain one's innocence.

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@C-N

"Theft by definition requires that someone is wrongfully deprived of their property."

So I must assume that you've never heard of "data theft", or "theft of services".

And as far as what "theft" is "by definition", then whose definition are you talking about? The one definition out of all possible definitions that most appeals to you?

"Schwartz (sic) seemed to think that academic work belongs in the public domain; most especially, academic work that was financed by the public. I completely agree."

1) As you seem to realize, not all of it was publicly funded, and how anyone other than the people who financed the research and, secondarily, the people who did the research, lost the right to decide what is to be done with the research that was the product of their investment of time, effort, money, and labor, I'd like to know. And more specifically, how did the right to decide what to do with that research devolve on Swartz and you?

2) You might completely agree with Swartz about academic work belonging in the public domain but if you think that that interests anyone but you, or if you think that that is enough to absolve Swartz of legal responsibility for his actions, then you do not really understand how the world works.

3) Here's an explanation of JSTOR by commenter Ian Johnston, on page three of this comments thread and which I am going to cite here because you seem like the kind of person would would not bother to find it and read it if I merely gave the url::

Both the article and the comments show a profound ignorance about JSTOR. It is not a publisher; it is a non-profit group run by a consortium of universities to make research papers available at minimal cost to the academic community - which effectively means to anyone with a university affiliation. That's not a cheap thing to do. As well as the storage and bandwidth costs, there is subscribing to current journals and negotiating access agreements with the publishers (who often are rapacious, I agree), and also the costs of scanning in older printed papers which would otherwise be extremely difficult to access for anyone not at an institution which subscribed at the time.

To access JSTOR, institutions pay a significant but relatively small annual fee. In return there are terms and conditions of service, one of which says, in effect "though shalt not download the entire archive and then make it available for free". Had Swartz succeeded he would have undermined the basis for JSTOR and made access to research papers, both now and in the future, considerably more difficult and more expensive. His beliefs may have been passionate and sincere, but they were also misdirected and stupid. (Note that Ian Johnston later disavowed the use of the word "stupid" in this post, but in my opinion, it is far too weak a descriptor in the first place.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: control freaks

Hear Hear. The only sensible word in this comment section.

He was being hounded by the government, probably for his actions against SOPA/PIPA.

Who knows, maybe he was even 'suicided'...

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ja

Not psychopaths

They are sociopaths. That makes their authority more dangerous.

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ja

Re: Comparing Turing to Swartz? Complete FAIL!

Turing did (arguably) save civilization from Hitler.

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Holy shit

72 upvotes at the last count - that helps offset the RAGE I got after misinterpreting the locked bootloader affair a few months ago, eh?

I'm guessing other than getting general agreement from people, I appear to have, for want of a better phrase, touched a few people. Good stuff. I was (genuinely) expecting a more negative response, or possibly even to be moderated out given how blunt and personal I was about it all.

Mental illness - painful, vicious, fascinating stuff.

Cheers all. That's made my day.

Steven R

PS: I've seen a couple of people elsewhere mention that Swartz 'chose' to commit suicide.

Trust me, it's not a choice - it's a last resort.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Holy shit

You are not alone

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Boffin

Re: Holy shit

"...... I've seen a couple of people elsewhere mention that Swartz 'chose' to commit suicide. Trust me, it's not a choice - it's a last resort." Whilst it may be a last resort, Aaron Swartz still chose to take that last resort. He put the noose round his own neck and hung himself. it is far from reality to state that the prosecutor "murdered" Swartz, which is what the more frothing ranters have claimed here and on other forums on the Web.

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Unhappy

R.I.P.

No words will erase the injustice he has suffered or the goodness he has created, nor the beliefs he has striven for.

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Black Helicopters

RIP

This is such a great loss to the industry and community.

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Re: RIP

Yes, and I wish I could better express my thoughts in the English language.

Long ago a very nice and brilliant lady (my grandmother) expressed her opinion on sin. Sin is not a catalogue of things. It is simply anything you do against your better understanding. I love that definition. It is foolproof and logical. I am a sinner no doubt, sometimes. Swartz knew it too by hiding his laptop, no doubt.

But his suicide was not caused by that, but by the incredible "legal" system hitting him, threatening him with 30 years and 1M$ plus legal fees. There is something madly wrong in the USA when there is absolutely no correlation between the "sin" and the sentence you are faced with. And because Swartz was both young and bright it made it still harder for him to cope with it. The real sinner is the "legal" system in the USA.

He was "psychologically" murdered by that system.

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Big Brother

I wonder if Anonymous will feel the need to somehow punish those responsible in the US government.

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Facepalm

Re: kode

"I wonder if Anonymous will feel the need to somehow punish those responsible in the US government." Don't worry, governments all over the World will be ordering their TV channels to show more cartoons this weekend to distract them.

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re:I wonder if Anonymous will feel the need to somehow punish those responsible

Since mit.edu just dissapeared I think somebody already did

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Anonymous Coward

Re: re:I wonder if Anonymous will feel the need to somehow punish those responsible

I don't see why MIT should be punished. It looks patently obvious to me that they'd moved to protect him. While US gov could still have made a technical argument that what he did may have been illegal under the law. I imagine it'd suddenly have been pretty difficult to prove damages or present a case for serve punishment when the actions for which he was being prosecuted had since become PERFECTLY LEGAL.

(IANAL)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: re:I wonder if Anonymous will feel the need to somehow punish those responsible

"I don't see why MIT should be punished."

MIT is not being "punished". Their website has been vandalized. That people can think that vandalizing a website is meaningful in anyway is very puzzling.

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Politician's logic

This was a good article right until the final line; "That he ended up hanging from the ceiling in a Brooklyn apartment at the age of 26 is a damming indictment of the system as it stands, and proof of the need for change."

It won't earn me any friends, but the tenuous linkage is just that: tenuous. It falls into the same camp as pushing through UK legislation to monitor all internet usage because, you know, terrorism.

If individuals have harassed an individual to death through abuse of power, then by all means, take action against those individuals. I'll gladly stand on the soapbox beside you and deplore. I just don't see a systemic breakdown of command and control here; I hate people bandying hackneyed cliche and sensationalised rhetoric over something as senselessly tragic as this. You could've just ended the article one sentence earlier.

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Re: Politician's logic

Do we really know this was suicide? He clearly had some powerful enemies.

In any case this is a great loss to us all. Lets hope his contribution is not silenced by his passing.

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Mushroom

Re: Politician's logic

Agreed, although for me the article hit a wall when they invoked Turing.

A young man driven to a desperate act as a result of the consequences of his political actions for which there have to be consequences even if you agree with his politics is one thing.

A man hounded to his death for his sexual preferences *DESPITE* what he did for his country is quite another.

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Re: Politician's logic

so even more like alan

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Re: Politician's logic

A man punished for a crime and punished according to the law commits suicide.

Another man who did something that probably amounts to a crime (not convicted and fairly minor anyway based on my view of the indictment that I read) commits suicide under threat of massive criminal penalties (35 years) having already spent all his money on legal bills and where the victim didn't want to press charges.

Stated as above the parallel doesn't seem ridiculous to me and the prosecutions handling of the case should be looked at. MIT has announced that they will look into how they handled the issue and decisions that they made.

I'm not saying that this person's contributions match Turing's but they certainly exceed mine so far and he was only 26. I'm also not saying that what he was accused of was OK and should be legal but the idea that charges worth 35 years were appropriate even as a means to pressure a guilty plea to some lesser charge seems ridiculous to me.

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Re: Politician's logic

I need to add to my post above that I believe homosexuality and homosexual acts should be legal and it is a stain (one of many) on my nation's history that they were ever criminal. I hope no one read into my comment any belief that there was anything remotely acceptable about it. I only believe that this case may not be much better and that comparisons need not be inappropriate.

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Boffin

Re: Politician's logic

Freedom is the new Homosexuality maybe? The 'Last Taboo'

nK

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Stop

Re: Politician's logic

"Freedom is the new Homosexuality...." Hoooboy, isn't about time some people went and actually READ about Swartz before trying to turn him into some form of gay martyr? Swartz expressly said he did not want to be "classified" as gay as he did not want his actions to be commandeered by the Gay community for their political benefit. Start here: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/notgay

The problem with far too many of the "internet community" rushing to eulogise Swarz is they haven't a clue about him, he's just the latest trend-du-jour, and will be forgotten in a few weeks just like Chen Guangcheng, Hu Jia, and anyone else not getting mentioned weekly on Oprah.

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@Matt Bryant

BTW

How's the volunteering for the Samaritans going?

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Thumb Down

Re: @Matt Bryant

".....How's the volunteering for the Samaritans going?" I would have thought you would have guessed by now that I am probably not the best choice of someone to be answering the phones when the suicidal call. Like many (male) techies, I have a bad habit of brusquely assuming everything is simply a problem that, if examined properly, will produce a correct and workable solution. My experiences of seeing depression in others, in particular in someone that seemed to have achived a perfectly happy and successful life, makes me think that is not the best approach.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Matt Bryant

Should be pretty good for them, cut down their phone bills immensely!

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Happy

Re: @Matt Bryant

" I would have thought you would have guessed by now that I am probably not the best choice of someone to be answering the phones when the suicidal call. Like many (male) techies, I have a bad habit of brusquely assuming everything is simply a problem that, if examined properly, will produce a correct and workable solution."

Indeed. Your sense of humor is very nearly as well developed as your empathy.

Would it help to think of it as "fault finding for humans"? Except the faults can be difficult to detect and actively hide.

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Meh

Re: @Matt Bryant

"Should be pretty good for them, cut down their phone bills immensely!"

You do know people dial in to them, right?

And BTW that's a very old joke.

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Happy

Re: John Smith 19 Re: @Matt Bryant

"......Would it help to think of it as "fault finding for humans"? Except the faults can be difficult to detect and actively hide." Probably not such a good idea. As a techie, I also dress up laziness as "the most efficient course of action", which means when a system problem gets too complex I'm liable to reach for the backups and do a re-install. I don't think that option works too well on humans!

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@AC 14.25

"Should be pretty good for them, cut down their phone bills immensely!"

Unless the UK is vastly different from the US, then it's the potential suicide that calls the suicide hotline, and since the toll for a phone call is paid by the caller and not the party being called, I don't see how a reduced volume of calls would effect their phone bills.

Of course it is possible that I don't know how things like this work in the UK. Although, frankly, it's far more likely that the AC who posted that is just stupid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Politician's logic

"so even more like alan"

Wow! You are on a first-name basis with Alan Turing!!!!111!

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Happy

Re: John Smith 19 @Matt Bryant

"I don't think that option works too well on humans!"

Well your powers of observation are certainly better developed than your empathy.

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Coat

Re: John Smith 19 @Matt Bryant

".......Well your powers of observation are certainly better developed than your empathy." Surely the best understanding would come from someone that was making a judgement based on both empathy and observation, rather than just the former? Hint - you missed this post were I stated it was a tragedy that anyone should be depressed enough to commit suicide (http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/01/14/anonymous_protest_swartz_death/#c_1693482):

".....Aaron Swartz was a very clever guy, and his death was tragic just as the suicide of any person suffering from depression is tragic......"

So, there you go, observant and empathic. My work here is done....

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Windows

Can someone explain?

* Ezra Pound made some ill judged and slightly barmy propaganda broadcasts from Musolini's Italy during the 2nd world war. He was kept in an open air cage for 10+ years until finally being admitted to a mental hospital. On this side of the pond we had Wodehouse, all sorted, and honoured in 1975.

* The strange case of "Bell South Standard Practice 660-225-104SV Control Office Administration of Enhanced 911 Services for Special Services and Major Account Centers dated March 1988", a document that you could request and pay for a paper copy of. See Bruce Sterling, Hacker Crackdown.

* McKinnon ('nuff said)

and now this.

Why the idiotic ferocity to marginal acts? Why the inflated and largely imaginary costs/monetary damage? Why the madly inflated sentences?

I say this as one who missed witnessing a double murder by about half an hour last Friday (Birmingham UK).

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Devil

Re: Can someone explain?

> idiotic ferocity to marginal acts

Because that's how state justifies its existence? You can go after the little man easily, it amuses the proles, makes the guys in uniform feel badass and the guys in robes feel useful, and the theater pleases their well-manicured, white-cat-stroking handlers. But big fish are big fish. You don't go after big fish.

Real problems are never solved, they just ....

Hey, Obama just appointed Jack Lew to be Treasury Secretary! Well, whaddya know, talk about putting the fox into the henhouse.

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Holmes

Re: Can someone explain?

> He was kept in an open air cage for 10+ years

Apparently just for a short time, but then got the full Manning treatment. He was then accused of high treason, which is bemusing considering that a well-known american crook, liar and accomlished political entrepreneur who had ceded the eastern half of Europe to Stalin under cover of secret understandings and had recently kicked the golden bucket was himself a great admirer of Mussolini.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can someone explain?

Why the ferocity to marginal acts? Because we ALL have the ability to do this. And that ability can be provided to anyone as a point-and-click tool.

Try providing the ability to scale a barbed-wire fence without injury. It takes A Long Time. Or getting into a position where you can commit fraud massive enough to take down a bank- again, it takes A Long Time.

The ferocity to marginal acts is because we all have the ability to effect these marginal acts, without significant cost to ourselves and with sufficient distance that our consciences can remain essentially clear- it's very difficult to guilt-trip someone for something they feel is Right and took very little effort to do. So they respond harshly to make you question pushing that button. Just that little second's worth of doubt they give you that what you are doing is Right is enough for them to start guilt-tripping most of us.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can someone explain?

"Why the inflated and largely imaginary costs/monetary damage? Why the madly inflated sentences?".

Yes, why are they prepared to live with that in the USA, or well.

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Re: Can someone explain?

He released the published results of 1000s of government funded researchers to the general public

imagine what would happen if the ordinary man in the street started learning about evolution and the universe being older than 4000 years and things being made of atoms. Why - they might write to their congressman !

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WTF?

Re: Can someone explain?

" Ezra Pound...." And therein lies one of the great failures of the sheeple that listen to others simply because they are famous luvvies rather than thinking "what the fudge qualifications or knowledge does that person have to actually make them qualified to comment?" I'm sure you laughed at those that calmly accepted Jenny McCarthy's unqualified blathering on about autism being caused by the MMR vaccine, yet I bet you wouldn't have accepted Ezra Pound giving advice on brain surgery. In the legal sense, Ezra Pound made his speeches after the declaration of war, and therefore was a traitor. It does not detract from his literary achievements, but by the same token his literary achievements do not exonerate him from his crimes.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Can someone explain?

because prosecutors earn their bread by sticking people away for as long as possible and more the better and if the defendant has annoyed the great and the good in someway, all the better for the ambitious young lawyer.

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Unhappy

Strange guy

He was a smart guy. I look at what he accomplished before he reached 19 and weep at my failure to match up.

Message to anyone facing problems like this: call the Samaritans. Really.

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Anonymous Coward

Makes me wonder...

This case is too big for mere LOIC, methinks.

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Joke

Re: Makes me wonder...

But not too big for Barrett Light 50.

Oops, I will probably fall afoul some anti-terror law.

Joke alert, joke alert!! Okay! It was all a joke!

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Re: Makes me wonder...

Damn, I just sold a Barrett M82A1... not joking, dead serious.

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Facepalm

Re: Makes me wonder...

Dude...........

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Holmes

I cant say this particular feeling is different

Theres one too many in the IT world, and elsewhere trying to get their leg over just to keep up with the jones' next door.

Americans on the other hand, this is not intended to offend, but can (yes CAN) tend to be a little OTT or overly dramatic as if its a religious calling.

What I believe is needed is more compassion within industry (notice industry and not commercial!), less 'one sided or unfair competition' and to put it simply, more morals and acceptance that every man has his vice, and that this is what selfish acts (particularly by government departments) can effectively lead to.

I wonder if they trust the right people to know what they're looking for in certain areas.... Since tradgedies such as this can result from what I call the 'leg humper' syndrome, particularly since nobody is perfect.

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Karma's a bitch. Sleep well, Carmen Ortiz and Steve Heymann; sleep lightly.

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