Reposting a tribute by Swaraj Paul Barooah which originally appeared on Spicy IP to Aaron Swartz. Aaron Swartz hung himself on January 11th 2013 and had been facing extensive legal charges for having downloaded 4 million articles from JSTOR which he intended to make available for free online
Some of us in India may not have heard of Aaron Swartz, a 26 year old activist who was heavily involved in copyright policy issues and issues surrounding technology freedom. He committed suicide on Jan 11th, 2013 and his story is a sad one which is certainly worth sharing. However, what’s also important to note, are the circumstances which may have led his eventual suicide.
While it cannot be confirmed, it appears that his arrest and indictment for charges of downloading academic papers from MIT and JSTOR resulting in possible jail time of over 50 years and 4 million dollars in fines may have been the cause. JSTOR apparently had dropped the charges, but the US government continued the case and racked up a total of 14 counts of felony against him. (Note: it is unclear whether MIT pursued the charges or not). Clearly he was seen as very troublesome by the government and his online activism must’ve had a lot to do with that.
Continue reading Aaron Swartz, R.I.P: Swaraj Paul Barooah