Aaron Swartz was a young man who had an undeniable talent for computer engineering. He was the founder of “Reddit” which is a successful site that allows users to submit links to content on the Internet and spread the word to a younger audience about important events. Reddit is a beneficial “social networking site” that reaches out to a wide audience where people are able to share worldwide news in a blink of an eye and with a direct extension to the source. Aaron Swartz created this site because it exemplifies exactly what he believes in, which is that people should be allowed to exercise their rights to the Internet freely and openly. Unfortunately, it was reported that this internet mogul committed suicide nearly two years after being convicted of a crime that could potentially have given him 50 years in prison. It was said that the stress of the courts and conviction was the reason that pushed him to edge of suicide. The crime he was being questioned for was that of using MIT’s network to download too many scholarly articles from an academic database called JSTOR (Hsieh, 2013). He was being charged on two counts of wire fraud and eleven violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Some of Swartz’s family and friends believed that he was being extensively trialed so that the government could make an example of him in the age of “Wikileaks” and “Anonymous”. The reason Swartz targeted JSTOR was because it controls and limits the distribution of scholarship conducted by public employees, or produced by scholars with public funds, to only those with paid subscription access (Corriea, 2013). Swartz believe this type of information should be distributed to the public openly. There was no proof that he was using the information as a means to make a profit.
This story tells the public a lot about the United States intellectual property (IP) law in the sense that it does not hold true to the message it is supposed to enforce. I say that because the IP refers to the creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce (WIPO). This law is supposed to protect the intellectual property, however, this law did not pertain to or defend the integrity of the late Aaron Swartz. He was excising his right to creative thoughts and use to public information .Instead, he was being charged for something that shouldn’t have made it to trial through this law that is guaranteed to every citizen under our Constitution.
Hsieh, S. (2013, January 23). Why Did the Justice System Target Aaron Swartz? | Politics News | Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 25, 2014, from http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-did-the-justice-system-target-aaron-swartz-20130123
Correia, D. (2013, February 12). Aaron Swartz and the Case Against Intellectual Property | La Jicarita. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from http://lajicarita.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/aaron-swartz-and-the-case-against-intellectual-property/
WIPO (n.d.). What is Intellectual Property? Retrieved March 25, 2014, from http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/