The brilliant mind, righteous heart of Aaron Swartz will be missed — MSNBC by Chris Hayes, @chrislhayes, 10:19 am on 01/13/2013
Aaron was one of those preternaturally brilliant, precocious hackers who, at the age of 14, co-developed the Really Simple Syndication or RSS web protocol that is the key component of much of the web’s entire publishing infrastructure.
By 19, he’d co-founded a company that would merge with Reddit, a user-generated social news site that is now one of the most highly trafficked news sites in the world. He read voraciously, uploading reviews of the dozens of books he read a year to his blog, and wrote beautifully and prolifically. He worked as a progressive activist with the group Progressive Change Campaign Committee and founded Demand Progress, which was instrumental in fights to keep the internet open and free, and in the battle to defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act.
He developed the architecture for the Creative Commons licensing system ….
You should also know that at the time of his death Aaron was being prosecuted by the federal government and threatened with up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines for the crime of — and I’m not exaggerating here — downloading too many free articles from the online database of scholarly work JSTOR. Aaron had allegedly used a simple computer script to use MIT’s network to massively download academic articles from the database that he himself had legitimate access to, almost 5 million in all, with the intent, prosecutors alleged, of making them freely available. You should know that despite JSTOR declining to press charges or pursue prosecution, federal prosecutors dropped a staggering 13 count felony indictment on Aaron for his alleged actions.
The family of celebrated internet activist Aaron Swartz has accused prosecutors and MIT officials of being complicit in his death, blaming the apparent suicide on the pursuit of a young man over “an alleged crime that had no victims”. …