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Message 1327908 - Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 12:47:03 UTC
Last modified: 16 Jan 2013, 12:52:13 UTC

A very sad final end to some very overly heavy handed bullying:


Calls for internet law reform and open access after activist suicide

The funeral of Aaron Swartz, the 26-year-old internet activist who killed himself last week, is taking place today. The activist's death has led to calls for reform of internet law and more open access to publicly held information. ...

The felony charges could have led to thirty-five years in prison. [!] ...

... Many feel that the threat of decades in jail may have contributed to Swartz's state of mind [Ya don't say!!?]...

... The Electronic Frontier Foundation says the case: "shines a spotlight on profound flaws in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)". It points out that the law is so vaguely worded that it allows prosecutors to charge violations of terms of service as criminal acts... include punishments ranging "up to ten years, twenty years or even life in prison"...

... Swartz, who was a co-creator of the RSS 1.0 specification and co-founder of Reddit...

... On Twitter, the #pdftribute hashtag has emerged as part of the open access movement's response to Swartz's death. Academics and other writers are asked to publish their papers and make them available by tweeting a URL to retrieve them with #pdftribute. ...



Aaron Swartz was 'killed by the government,' father tells mourners

... “He was killed by the government, and MIT betrayed all of its basic principles,” he said.

Facing the possibility of a long prison sentence if convicted of charges that he illegally downloaded millions of academic journal articles, Swartz hanged himself in his New York apartment Friday. The death of one of the founders of news and entertainment website Reddit and a longtime activist for an open Internet has ignited outrage among many in the electronic community who view him as a martyr to government prosecution. ...

... “His suicide followed an over-zealous prosecution for a crime with no victims...

... “Steve Heymann had shown no interest in justice,” Swartz’s girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, 31, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. “His only interest was a notch on his belt, another young kid he could claim to put away. But I think as the case wore on, as it became clearer how weak his case was, he became more and more of a bully.”

She added, “I also hope that, frankly, Steve Heymann should lose his job. Aaron’s not the first person he’s tried to do this to. And MIT needs to implement serious policy changes, because MIT could have stopped this. They could have stopped this cold in its tracks...

... MIT contributed to his death. The U.S. attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims.”

MIT President L. Rafael Reif announced Sunday that he was ordering a review of the university’s actions in the case. “Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT,” Reif said in an email to the university community. ...



Nasty bullying stuff where the perpetrators should not be able to claim that they were 'just doing their job'...

In this case, looks like the threat of 35 years in jail did really mean, LIFE.


The really stupid aspect of all this is the fantastically disproportionate threat and persecution when the academic publications concerned are supposed to be freely available to the community in any case!

Is there a crime of fatally vexatious prosecution?...


Only in the USA?...

Dismayed,
Martin
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Message 1327977 - Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 17:00:15 UTC - in response to Message 1327908.



Only in the USA?...

Dismayed,
Martin


Would have received a +1 but for the above.....

It's also happening here & in Europe.
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Message 1328001 - Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 17:45:31 UTC - in response to Message 1327977.
Last modified: 16 Jan 2013, 17:47:19 UTC

Only in the USA?...

Dismayed,
Martin

Would have received a +1 but for the above.....

It's also happening here & in Europe.

Your examples for something so trivial initiating such dire extraordinary threats of punitive 'justice'?


Another that comes to mind is that recently of Gary McKinnon:

... If extradited to the US and charged, McKinnon would face up to 70 years in jail. He has expressed fears that he could be sent to Guantanamo Bay...


That example of persecution was strung out over about ten years and sent the victim suicidal. Again, prosecuted by some very zealous 'lawyers' hiding in the USA...


What and who next?

All in the USA...

Dismayed,
Martin
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Message 1328003 - Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 17:48:02 UTC

Was it copyrighted?
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Message 1328063 - Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 20:41:14 UTC - in response to Message 1328003.

Was it copyrighted?


If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.


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Message 1328104 - Posted: 16 Jan 2013, 23:45:28 UTC - in response to Message 1328001.

Only in the USA?...

Dismayed,
Martin

Would have received a +1 but for the above.....

It's also happening here & in Europe.

Your examples for something so trivial initiating such dire extraordinary threats of punitive 'justice'?


Another that comes to mind is that recently of Gary McKinnon:

... If extradited to the US and charged, McKinnon would face up to 70 years in jail. He has expressed fears that he could be sent to Guantanamo Bay...


That example of persecution was strung out over about ten years and sent the victim suicidal. Again, prosecuted by some very zealous 'lawyers' hiding in the USA...


What and who next?

All in the USA...

Dismayed,
Martin



Sorry I bash the US of A when its deserved & compliment also when its deserved. Your statement about "over zealous lawyers hiding in the USA" is insulting even though it may be true!

Does the name "Theresa May" ring a bell with you? Those very same lawyers wouldn't have had a leg to stand on if she did her job correctly!
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Message 1328116 - Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 0:37:42 UTC

So, as further details trickle out, the story gets worse:


Aaron Swartz’s illusion over research

The death of the internet activist Aaron Swartz at the age of 26 has rightly evoked tributes to his creativity and selflessness. Swartz, who faced jail for illegally downloading millions of academic papers from an electronic library, committed suicide last week.

... exploited the electronic network of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to download most of the database of Jstor, a non-profit group that digitises academic journals and articles. He did not share or sell the material – he later handed it back – but prosecutors took...

... Free access to academic research – the system Mr Swartz advocated – could bring public benefits. It would enable anyone to read, analyse and build upon privately and publicly funded research. However, someone would still need to pay for it and the costs to universities such as MIT and Oxford would rise, not fall.

Critics of the current system, under which research libraries pay up to $50,000 annually to use online databases, tend to blame profiteering by companies such as Reed Elsevier and Springer for this cost. George Monbiot, the activist and Guardian writer, describes it as “pure rentier capitalism”, arguing that people should “throw off these parasitic overlords and liberate the research that belongs to us”.

Allied to this is the belief that publishing costs have fallen heavily in the shift from print to digital. ...



So... Driven to suicide with the threat of a multimillion $ fine and decades imprisonment, when after all nothing had actually been 'lost'!


To use a crass term: I rest my case.

Disgusted! All in the USA?...
Martin


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Message 1328189 - Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 6:13:19 UTC - in response to Message 1328116.

... exploited the electronic network of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to download most of the database of Jstor, a non-profit group that digitises academic journals and articles. He did not share or sell the material – he later handed it back

So it is okay if you shoplift but give it back to the store after you leave the store.

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time ...

BTW, did he pay them back for the data charges they had to pay for the bandwidth? Did he pay them back for the increased electricity costs to keep the hard drives spinning? Everyone here should remember that was a key item in the flap over NEZ.


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Message 1328248 - Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 12:46:55 UTC

... Free access to academic research – the system Mr Swartz advocated – could bring public benefits. It would enable anyone to read, analyse and build upon privately and publicly funded research. However, someone would still need to pay for it and the costs to universities such as MIT and Oxford would rise, not fall.


Why would any private funded research want their work downloaded with out permission and freely given to anyone who wants it. That sure sounds like stealing to me.

And it sounds like Mr Swartz was more of a renegade advocate than Just a man with lofty goals.

Big deal he gave the stuff back. Maybe I can download all your bank accounts and passwords and pin numbers to credit cards. Then copy all that stuff to another Russian website, But I will give you back the CD I used to download it.

Im sorry but hes was a internet thief. If he didnt get permission to do what he did. Then hes guilty.

I admit the penaltys were to harsh, But he needed more than a slap on the hand too.
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Message 1328337 - Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 18:19:55 UTC - in response to Message 1328248.
Last modified: 17 Jan 2013, 18:21:24 UTC

... I admit the penaltys were to harsh, But he needed more than a slap on the hand too.

THIRTY FIVE YEARS too harsh? For the sake of academic papers that are supposed to be publicly available in the first place!


Why not chop off limbs and decapitate and be done?...

Sounds like some in the USA are making a fast buck at going Biblical with their bullying threats...


All still highly disproportionate and it understandably drove the victim to suicide. Meanwhile, the perpetrators get their pay checks for being unscrupulously OTT nasty...

Whichever way you look at the circumstances, the proceedings were way way OTT.

Only in the USA...

Dismayed,
Martin


OTT: OVER THE TOP!
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Message 1328353 - Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 19:14:45 UTC - in response to Message 1328337.

For the sake of academic papers that are supposed to be publicly available in the first place!

Says Martin and Swartz. US Copyright Office certified they were not publicly available. Penal code says you don't use someone's computer without permission. Martin, do you want unauthorized use on your computer?

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.


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Message 1328423 - Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 21:55:24 UTC - in response to Message 1328353.
Last modified: 17 Jan 2013, 21:58:42 UTC

... Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

So let's see past your Hang 'em Judge Jeffreys rhetoric:


Fans of dead data 'liberator' Swartz press Obama to sack prosecutor

A new online petition has called for the firing of US attorney Carmen Ortiz for pursuing Aaron Swartz with charges that could have put him in prison for at least three decades.

Meanwhile, Democrat congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has drawn up a new bill called "Aaron's Law" to amend the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act used to prosecute Swartz until his death last week.

Internet prodigy Swartz, 26, took his life on Friday in the midst of a lengthy computer fraud case against him. The charges were brought after he copied 4.8 million scientific articles from the nonprofit journal archive JSTOR to allegedly redistribute online.

In the days after he was found dead at his New York home on Friday, Swartz's family said their son's suicide was "the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach".

Now Lofgren has announced on Reddit, the immensely popular discussion website Swartz helped build, her intention to put forward Aaron's Law. The bill aims to tighten up the Act's definition of fraud.

"There’s no way to reverse the tragedy of Aaron’s death, but we can work to prevent a repeat of the abuses of power he experienced," she wrote.

"The government was able to bring such disproportionate charges against Aaron because of the broad scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the wire fraud statute. ...

"Using the law in this way could criminalise many everyday activities and allow for outlandishly severe penalties." ...



Various of the comments to that article make for interesting reading:

what I find bizzare

is that JSTOR (the aggrieved party) actually urged the prosecutor to drop the charges. I understand why the state has the right to prosecute without the consent of the aggrieved but cases such as this make me wonder for a moment if that shouldn't be changed.


Re: what I find bizzare

That prosecutor must have thought that "making an example" of somebody famous, in a Corporate America friendly sort of way, would make for a cracking career move.


Re: Time to get real

"10-30 years in prison and fines/legal fees that would bankrupt J.R. Eweing is utterly disproportionate. Aaron Swartz wasn't a serial rapist, murderer or child molester - any of whch might deserve such punishment. He was a misguided guy who broke the law."

But hacking and/or copyright infringment is a far more serious crime than rape, murder or child molestation...


So...

It had to take Swartz offing himself for someone to actually propose limiting the CFAA so that something exaggerated like this doesn't happen. I hope it doesn't take, say, Jammie Thomas suiciding as well for copyright maddness to be fixed as well!

Something's wrong when distributing files earns 30 in the slammer + millions in fines, and songs cost $10k each.


More info and opinions here on Aaron Swartz case

Folks,

In order to hear some more valid viewpoints on Aaron's so called crime, you should probably read some of the articles here: http://boingboing.net/tag/aaronsw particularly those written by Cory Doctorow and here: http://unhandled.com/2013/01/12/the-truth-about-aaron-swartzs-crime/

That page is by Alex Stamos who is well known in the cybersecurity business and who was going to testify on Aaron Swartz behalf in his trial.

In his considered opinion, there was no crime of trespass, nothing was "stolen" and Aaron even returned the documents he had downloaded back to JSTOR who dropped the charges and the Fed's continued the prosecution even though without Jstor pressing charges there can be no further prosecution.

MIT's network (wired or wireless) was open to all just like free wifi so there was no trespass.

The Fed's wanted a guilty verdict and the piled on the charges threatening him with sentencing up to 35 years in prison if he did not accept a "guilty" plea of 33 charges but only 6 months in jail.

This is a common tactic in the US justice system where the cost (both mental and monetary) of fighting such a case will take a toll on the plaintiff to the point where they usually capitulate and take a guilty plea just to be rid of the problem.

The trouble is that people of principles like Aaron usually don't want to be tagged as guilty when they believe they are not guilty. This wore him down financially and mentally until something broke and he committed suicide.




Meanwhile, a little sooth saying and backtracking by the prosecutors now accused?

"us_attorney_defends_swartz_prosecution":
Swartz prosecutor: We only pushed for six months in the cooler

US attorney Carmen Ortiz, who led the fraud case against Aaron Swartz until his suicide last week, has defended her prosecution of the internet prodigy. ...

... Swartz faced 13 felony charges including counts of wire fraud, computer fraud and recklessly damaging a protected computer, which could cumulatively carry a sentence of more than 30 years.

The federal attorney's statement, the first time she's been drawn to comment on Swartz's death, also offered her sympathies to his family and friends.

"I know that there is little I can say to abate the anger felt by those who believe that this office’s prosecution of Mr Swartz was unwarranted and somehow led to the tragic result of him taking his own life," she said.



And a few comments from that article for what to me appear to be career damage limitation crocodile tears:

They can say what they want and try to defend themselves over the case.

You take your victim as you find them, Swartz became the victim in this, but these prosecutors have skin thicker than battleship armour.

Sadly it is unlikely they will be tormented by this.


Obama's Justice Department is Cruel and Vindictive.

Here in Boston, the news is more disturbing. This was originally a local matter for MIT security and Boston police. It was a simple illegal entry violation for breaking and entering into an MIT storage closet where he had his laptop stashed,.

Swartz would have gotten off with a slap on the wrist, maybe a fine. But then...

... Six months later, Obama's Justice Department tripled the intimidation with a 13-count indictment. The Boston Globe reported that the DOJ was pushing for the full 35-year sentence.

These journals were paid for by Federal grants, and BY LAW must be freely available. ...


Re: @AC 16:49

How can it be fair when innocent people are effectively forced into pleading guilty as the between the cost of defending yourself (forget the public defenders) and the sentences being so ridiculous. ...


@Fibbles - Re: Prosecutor not to blame

What crime ? We was entitled to download those articles but he did it too fast instead of downloading one at the time. MIT has a liberal access policy allowing anyone free access to these documents without any authentication all you need is to walk on their campus and plug your laptop into their network. Is this a crime which deserves 30 years in prison ? This is exactly what prosecution did, they ignored all this evidence and went for the harshest punishments. ...


Some words

US Attorney Ortiz "makes clear" that she decides what is reasonable and appropriate for her office and staff to do. Not you. So take your public outcry about injustice and stuff it. "I've looked into it and found that, after further review, I did the right thing."




So... In the USA you must chop your hands off lest you dare type anything? Rip out your tongue also lest you speak out of turn?


All just my own random personal opinions as must be the case...

Disgusted,
Martin
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Message 1328427 - Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 22:20:32 UTC
Last modified: 17 Jan 2013, 22:46:45 UTC

Ferociously damning and Damned?


Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann: accountability for prosecutorial abuse

... The Wall Street Journal reported this week that - two days before the 26-year-old activist killed himself on Friday - federal prosecutors again rejected a plea bargain offer from Swartz's lawyers that would have kept him out of prison. They instead demanded that he "would need to plead guilty to every count" and made clear that "the government would insist on prison time". That made a trial on all 15 felony counts - with the threat of a lengthy prison sentence if convicted - a virtual inevitability. ...

... meaning "the sentence could conceivably total 50+ years and [a] fine in the area of $4 million." That meant, as Think Progress documented, that Swartz faced "a more severe prison term than killers, slave dealers and bank robbers".

Swartz's girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, told the WSJ that the case had drained all of his money and he could not afford to pay for a trial. At Swartz's funeral in Chicago on Tuesday, his father flatly stated that his son "was killed by the government".

Ortiz and Heymann continue to refuse to speak publicly about what they did in this case...

... Clearly, the politically ambitious Ortiz - who was touted just last month by the Boston Globe as a possible Democratic candidate for governor...



To my mind, this is starting to look like a murder inquiry over trumped up charges for the sake of a petty politics career jump by fatal victimization.

A shamefully sorry affair.


Only in the usa? (Not deserving of uppercase letters for this one.)

Disgusted,
Martin


All merely my own person opinions as always.
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Message 1328431 - Posted: 17 Jan 2013, 22:27:57 UTC


Petition on the White House's website to fire Ortiz


Similar petition aimed at Heymann



A shamefully sorry affair.


Only in the usa? (Not deserving of uppercase letters for this one.)

Disgusted,
Martin


All merely my own person opinions as always.
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Message 1328455 - Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 0:15:48 UTC - in response to Message 1328423.

http://about.jstor.org/statement-swartz

we must be careful stewards of the information entrusted to us by the owners and creators of that content.

Sounds to me like the material is covered by copyright and not freely available!

Some fail to understand what a jury trial is. Perhaps in their country the prosecutor's word is the final say. Not so in the USA. Here the prosecutor has to prove the case to the jury and juries are free to nullify. If the prosecutor overcharges they run the risk the jury will nullify in disgust. If they undercharge they are doing the people a disservice.

Martin says he broke and entered a cabinet. Under most state penal codes that is FELONY burglary and will net you around a five year sentence.

Contrast that with the six month MISDEMEANOR sentence that he was offered in a plea agreement.

BTW a misdemeanor conviction doesn't automatically bar you from professional status jobs such as corporate boards or professional licenses.

Ask any con if they would rather serve time in a state pen or a federal pen.

When you go out and do an act of civil disobedience there may be consequences. They government may set the dogs lose on you. (Ask about Selma.) Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.


I more wonder if there is a malpractice case in this against his lawyer for not explaining how the system works and allowing him to become overly concerned with the big numbers which always get lower. Either the judge throws stuff out of the prosecution does because it realizes as it preps its case for the jury it doesn't have the evidence.

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Message 1328489 - Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 1:25:24 UTC - in response to Message 1328455.

In our system even if one is acquitted you have lost. The cost of defense is quite impressive even if no crime is found.
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Message 1328492 - Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 1:35:33 UTC - in response to Message 1328353.

For the sake of academic papers that are supposed to be publicly available in the first place!

Says Martin and Swartz. US Copyright Office certified they were not publicly available. Penal code says you don't use someone's computer without permission. Martin, do you want unauthorized use on your computer?

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.


Is JStor free?

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Message 1328522 - Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:29:59 UTC - in response to Message 1328492.

For the sake of academic papers that are supposed to be publicly available in the first place!

Says Martin and Swartz. US Copyright Office certified they were not publicly available. Penal code says you don't use someone's computer without permission. Martin, do you want unauthorized use on your computer?

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.


Is JStor free?

http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp
the Publisher Sales Service

Not so free.

Authorized Users' use of JSTOR implies no rights to Intellectual Property ...
JSTOR is relying on fair use under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act, educational exceptions

Very copyrighted.


Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

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Message 1328524 - Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 4:58:14 UTC - in response to Message 1328489.

In our system even if one is acquitted you have lost. The cost of defense is quite impressive even if no crime is found.

You have the right to an attorney if you can not afford one


Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

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Message 1328702 - Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 17:43:30 UTC

Which led me to ask right up front ^ if the stuff was copyrighted. It seems it was.

No matter how you stack it, The man did wrong!. What he deemed free access was not.

So lets say I was working on a privately funded reasearch project for finding a cure for stupidity. Ive found the cure and have copyrighted and or patented my material. And Joe Shumck rips open my filing cabinet and or breaks into my computer and copys the files. YOU DONT THINK THATS A CRIME?
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