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From the prosecution's vantage point --- and please stop for a minute and consider that perspective even though there's no chance you'll agree with it --- this was not a victimless crime.

As the prosecution sees it, Aaron broke into a service and took information that JSTOR charges 5 figures for access to with the intent of putting it on a file sharing network and thus destroying the commercial value of that information. If you read the indictment, the prosecution's vantage point seems to show that Aaron did this with the intention of destroying the commercial value of the information, because he opposes the commercialization† of that kind of information.

The prosecution's charge is that Aaron deliberately set out to harm an organization because they were incompatible with his own ideology.

† JSTOR is a nonprofit but you get the drift




>"The prosecution's charge is that Aaron deliberately set out to harm an organization because they were incompatible with his own ideology."

Sort of like how Rosa Parks decided to harm an organization because it didn't agree with her ideology. I mean, we're a nation of laws, she should have just sat where the bus driver told her to, am I right? Do we even have to debate the idea that sometimes laws are dictated to the people, not by the people?

Thankfully there are people who are actually willing to take action, rather than shilling for the powers that be. Academic research by public institutions should be free, in both senses of the word.

>"the prosecution's vantage point seems to show that Aaron did this with the intention of destroying the commercial value of the information"

Of course they will claim that, what else would they argue?


Of course they will claim that, what else would they argue?

Aaron's been pretty clear on his stated goals I'm not sure he can even argue that sentiment. Take a look at his "Guerilla Open Access Manifesto"

http://pastebin.com/cefxMVAy


_Wow_.

That is not a good thing for him to have said before trying to liberate JSTOR.


Maybe, but reading through, he does appear to be right.


Huh? Rosa Parks didn't set out to harm the Montgomery Bus Line. She just took the "wrong" seat.

It's funny that people can play the Anti-Godwin without even really knowing who Rosa Parks was; at least you can assume the people who invoke Hitler actually know why Hitler was evil.


>"Rosa Parks didn't set out to harm the Montgomery Bus Line. She just took the "wrong" seat."

And Swartz didn't set out to harm JSTOR commercially. That's only the view of prosecutors, which is completely expected.

Are you being deliberately obtuse? The point of bringing up Rosa Parks is that you make claims like, "We are a nation ruled by laws, not people. It is not up to Aaron Swartz". Substitute Aaron Swartz for Rosa Parks/Gandhi/whatever other examples people have brought up, and you should see what a ridiculous statement that is.

>"It's funny that people can play the Anti-Godwin without even really knowing who Rosa Parks was"

What's really funny is that, between calling opposing ideas "dumb" and "retarded", you've managed to conceal from most of the HN community the fact that you're really an arrogant blow-hard.


Yes he did. He even posted a manifesto saying it.


Funny, because I see him repeating, over and over, that the purpose is to set academic research free. It's called the "Open Access Manifesto" for crying out loud, not "Let's bankrupt JSTOR!"

And it's that idea that myself and other "retards" here are able to get behind, despite the fact that he broke the law to try to accomplish it, and will likely suffer consequences.


Only on a message board are these two dots hard to connect. Because after JSTOR's whole database is made public, people will continue to pay JSTOR because they're nice guys.


>"Because after JSTOR's whole database is made public, people will continue to pay JSTOR because they're nice guys."

Because Universities and research facilities are going to download the JSTOR torrent as opposed to purchasing access, just because it's available, right?

That sounds a lot like the argument the record labels and MPAA make. I can't remember, do people still pay for music and movies?


Just like everybody pays for all the movies and music they torrent after they decide which ones they're keeping.


> Huh? Rosa Parks didn't set out to harm the Montgomery Bus Line. She just took the "wrong" seat.

Ah, the intellectual inconsistency of conservatism, where condemnation or condonation is so dependent upon the arrow of time. Urging caution to slow down the rate of societal change is valid; fallacious arguments to further that goal are not.

At the time, the same cryptofascist arguments were bandied about for dear Rosa - she's upsetting the system of segregation between seats, she's destroying the value of the bus lines because white people won't want to ride them, she's delaying the bus and inconveniencing others, she's destroying the value of all businesses that rely on serving white customers, etc etc etc.

But since Rosa Parks is in the past, we embrace Rosa Parks and claim her as part of our American Heritage, responsible for helping usher in an era of freedom and equality. She was guilty of breaking the law, but consciously and respectfully submitted to the immutable system. But the system was wrong back then, so we no longer consider her a criminal.

But Aaron Swartz? He's guilty of stealing (hold pinky to mouth) millions of dollars. For a straightforward downloading of too many articles combined with an upsetting mens rea. Use the vague modern-witch hunting laws to lock him in the clink and throw away the key!

I agree that Aaron Swartz is guilty - of breaking into a closet. If MIT wishes, he should be prosecuted by the Middlesex DA and given the same punishment any non-poor white kid would receive - restitution and probation.


I'm not a conservative. Your argument goes downhill from there.


Oh boy.. I had wondered if you were going to say this. Sorry to break it to you, but you are conservative. (at least as far as your HN comments go)

Just go back and reread any thread of yours regarding TLS versus designing new protocols. The liberal cryptographers will design dozens of protocol implementations with starry-eyed visions of new unformalized properties that don't actually exist. Most will be used in places where TLS would have sufficed and most of them will be broken. But eventually something new will come out this mess, provide enough advantages to gain traction, and become hardened canon over the years. Conservative philosophy will never design a crypto protocol, but it will prevent a lot of damage from the redundant badly-designed protocols. Both philosophies are needed.

One could be both liberal and conservative in different areas, but your non-technical comments read the same way. Or perhaps you're just a bit confused about what conservatism actually is. Totally reasonable given the shifty name calling that masquerades as political "debate". This is quite long, but got me started on seeing where the continuum underlying the political spectrum actually comes from. http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2009/01/gentle-... . Eventually, despite that series's mischaracterizations and slightly wrong decomposition, I realized I am liberal (sorry MM) (also, this does not imply that I support politicians who use that label).


"you are conservative" ... "Just go back and reread any thread of yours regarding TLS versus designing new protocols".

Here I stopped reading.


A pity. I chose a technical topic so there would be some chance at making impartial judgments or understanding opposing views.


Harm? No, certainly not. But to make sure it's totally clear, she knew exactly what she was doing and had been trained in non-violent protest and civil disobedience at the Highlander Folk School.


During that era, having Rosa Parks (and potentially many other men and women of color) in "the wrong seat" could have potentially diminished the attractiveness of taking that Bus line for the patrons, thus damaging the Bus Line's profitability.

A more modern example of the presence of something "unwanted" bringing upon "damages", is Walmart moving into a high end town (which from what I understand, leads to a decrease in property values).

I am playing devil's advocate here, but Rosa Parks certainly could harm the Montgomery Bus Line with her inaccurate seat occupation.


> Sort of like how Rosa Parks decided to harm an organization

You may as well shortcut the argument and go straight to mentioning Hitler.


I remember him. Funny mustache. Did a lot of silly black and white movies or something. No sound for some reason.


The prosecution's perspective is warped by incentives - we should never care about how prosecutors feel or think - they are just tools of the people. Prosecutors need convictions, promotions, and press to succeed at their jobs. At this point, it's not JSTOR who wants this case prosecuted, it's just government agents. And they are just going through the motions.

It may be up to a jury to do the right thing - they stand a better change of being unbiased, thankfully for Aaron.


"We should never care about how prosecutors think" is a nonsense statement even for someone who believes that AUSAs and DAs are invariable corrupt and self-interested.


How does that follow? Their job is to prosecute. They're not corrupt--they're doing their jobs. No one is faulting them. They're just part of a system that is meant to be punitive even in the face of doing net damage to society.

What does putting him in prison accomplish? Obviously they're prosecuting him just because he broke a law. Not because he hurt anyone, or because he stole a bunch of money, or because he is a danger to society. They're trying to put him in prison as punishment for breaking a rule. Which is fine, except that in this case, he's obviously someone capable of making meaningful contributions to society. It just doesn't make sense to lock him up like they're trying to.

And all of this doesn't mean he shouldn't be punished--its just very plain to see that prosecutors have a job to do, and being sympathetic to who they're prosecuting isn't part of their job. If they're particularly good at their job, it would be a net loss to society.


Nobody is suggesting that the outcome of every case should follow what prosecutors think. What we are instead now discussing is the ridiculous notion that nobody should even care what they think. Well, pretty Aaron Swartz cares a whole lot about what they think, despite disagreeing strongly with all of it.

The subtext of this argument is obviously, "prosecutors are self-interested, and what they claim to think has nothing to do with what they really think, which is 'I am going to pursue whichever cases present the best opportunity for career advancement'." This, too, is a dumb way to think, because however much prosecutors may or may not think that way, judges and juries do not think that way, nor do they believe prosecutors are entirely animated by career concerns.


A prosecutor's job is to seek justice, not convictions. If a prosecutor believes a conviction would be unjust despite being technically compatible with the law, it would be unethical to pursue such a conviction.


A prosecutor's job is to seek justice, not convictions.

No, a prosecutor's job is not to seek justice, their job in adversarial legal system is to prosecute a case in the guidelines of the law. Its pretty clear that the prosecutor has a case against Aaron and its not their job to decide on whether the law is "just" or "right" their job is to prosecute that case to the fullest extent of the law. The last thing we need are prosecutors choosing what laws should and should not be enforced.

Its the judge and jury's job to decide what and what is not just.


Wrong. "The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done." -- Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88 (1935)

http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=5318644154387676...


That's not true. The prosecution definitely does have discretion in which cases to bring and they are expected to use it in the service of justice.

Prosecutorial discretion doesn't enter into this case; this is a prosecution-driven case. They are bringing this case very deliberately.


Even if you don't care what prosecutors think generally, do you think they characterized his intent pretty accurately? To destroy the commercial value of the information by making it freely available to everyone?

Would you characterize his intent differently?


I doubt, that releasing a torrent would have destroyed the commercial value of the service. Torrent is a rather poor way of distributing scientific articles. I doubt researchers would use it much, or that there would be a huge loss of revenue.




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