What Aaron Swartz Was Really Up Against


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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17 Responses

  1. Avatar Gene Landrum, PhQ. Quantum Theory says:

    Not knowing Mr. Swartz personally, I know his ‘Ilk’ and style! All printed material should be Free, not controlled by the few, for dollars for themselves or their organizations! Of course I know there is a need for Security, but controlled security works better than exclusive security! if the ‘legal’ beagles had their way, nobody could print, change, do a play or a movie without the original permission from the artist, author, etc.

    Grid lock could and does happen, censorship is ramped, when the Media is controlled by Whomever!

    For example; Person A takes a picture of Subject B, Person A uses the image for advertizing, Subject B wants paid because its B’s image! Person A states A owns picture, Subject B agrees but states A may own the photograph but not the image! Can’t happen; Ask Case Study on Celebrity Photo’s!Report

  2. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    First, AT&T notified its customers by e-mail. That was free, leading to a “cost” so far of zero. But then AT&T decided to follow-up the e-mail notification with paper letter notification, and the postage and paper costs amounted to about $73,000. Auernheimer’s 41-month sentence was based in substantial part on that $73,000 in loss, and he was also ordered to pay restitution in that amount.

    This reminds me a lot of the Phelps’s tactics in Synder vs. Phelps: on appeal they filed a large number of completely unnecessary documents, to increase the court costs they’d be awarded if they won.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Indeed. And since Phelps and his clan are Lawyers who represent themselves, it’s money they got to keep.

      There’s a pretty solid case to be made that Phelps and the WBC are more trolls than honest bigots, and that profiting from ill-advised lawsuits filed by their targets is the primary reason for their protests.Report

  3. Avatar Will H. says:

    The real question that I have is:
    How long is it going be, now that adequate information is readily available to all, before such common misconceptions finally come unwound?

    Been going on for awhile now . . .Report

  4. Avatar Glyph says:

    Thanks for the link, Burt. The stuff on depression is powerful (and accurately reflects my own thankfully-limited experiences of it in myself, and friends/family).

    And this bit deserves a reprint for anyone disinclined to read the whole piece:

    People think the system failed or abused or singled out Aaron Swartz. This is the system, dammit, and if you think that Aaron Swartz faced what he did because he’s a hacker and the government has it out for hackers, then I’m here to tell you that you’re full of shit. Aaron Swartz had a great, well-funded defense team and a healthy support system. Most people don’t. If you read this blog, you know the types of things the system does to people, including people with far less ability to fight back. The system sends sick people to their death in a system that can’t care for them because they smoked weed. The system denies its prisoners medical care until they have to have their genitals amputated in a fruitless effort to delay an early death from cancer. The system sticks people into cells and very literally forgets them until they’ve spent a few days drinking their own urine. The system strives and strains to execute people based solely on the word of serial perjurers — serial perjurers whose record of perjury they have concealed from the defense. The system prizes junk science so long as that junk science supports its allegations. The system treats invocation of constitutional rights as evidence of guilt. The system reacts with petulant fury to being questioned. The system detects and punishes law enforcement and prosecutorial misconduct so rarely that bad actors are hardly ever subjected to real consequences.

    These things happen every day to people less photogenic, talented, and charismatic than Aaron Swartz.


  5. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Two forces are at work here and neither are prosecutor overreach. AT&T has an enormous lobbying presence and has shown itself capable of screwing anyone who gets in its way. Then there’s the inertia of the existing body of law which has not adapted to the Internet.

    The Internet was designed on the honour code. Back in the heyday of the Beatles, there was another Apple Store on Baker Street in London, where “beautiful people could buy beautiful things” Predictably, it was a financial disaster. People just took things and didn’t pay for them. Finally, the Beatles just gave everything away. The looters descended upon the place in droves.

    And the Beatles were among the very last to license their music for the download market. Who else is holding out? Maybe Led Zeppelin?

    What’s the practical difference between Aaron Swartz, scraping JSTOR with a website copier and the folks who looted the Apple Boutique? When I configure Apache on a big site, I routinely set up a module to detect web scraping and blacklist the IP of the scraper. I mean, really, if it’s worth taking, isn’t it worth some token payment for it? I go to very considerable trouble to obtain permissions for the images I use around here: I consider borrowing without permission to be theft. The HREF tag was created to allow footnoting from one scientific paper to another, not for some jackass to hoist up someone else’s work for everyone else’s benefit.

    JSTOR solved a problem, one for which the Internet itself was designed. Plenty of good people have put up money to make it work. It’s a great force for good in the world, a repository for scholars and scientists. All they ask is a token fee, much less than the cost of subscription to the equivalent scientific journals in the Dead Tree Edition. Is that really too much to ask, to support a nonprofit institution? JSTOR do host older material for free.

    Kicking up dust because Aaron Swartz once wrote the spec for RSS is irrelevant. At what cost comes information worth having? It’s somewhat higher than free.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to BlaiseP says:

      “[T]he Beatles were among the very last to license their music for the download market.”

      Although that was due more to epic butthurt than resistance to digital downloads.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Then why are you giving so much of it away for free?
      I mean, it’s bad enough to leave the barn door open and expect the cows to stay inside.\
      But corporations steal your data all the time.

      … not that you’ll know if you don’t look.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kim says:

        Who is this mythical “I” who’s giving things away for free?Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

          I’ll lay money that it’s you.
          Let’s see:
          Ya got facebook?
          … do I need to go on, or have i won yet?Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kim says:

            Uh, no. I have a bastion Facebook account, not under my name of course. I do not have a Kindle. Nor do I use Verizon carrier service. I know who and what comes in and out of my router and I know iptables cold.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Well, shucks. Guess I lose then.
              How much info do you figure your medical insurance company is keeping on you?
              How about the doctors?

              When I head in to get treated, I sign a document saying that they’re allowed to do research on any sample they get from me, without my consent.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

              … or canvassers. that’s always a good way to raise money for a political campaign. Sell the data you get from canvassing… you know, the easy stuff. Number of satellite dishes, that kinda crap.Report

  6. Thank you for reminding me to link to Popehat more frequently, even though I read it every day.Report