Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

No-one got hurt. No damage was done. If I have to chose between "prank" or "federal crime" I'm going with prank.

'Pranks' have a history in political activism - see La Barbe or Pussy Riot or others.

> No-one got hurt. No damage was done.

If a burglar is sneaking out of a house with a sack of stolen goods, and the police catch him and return everything to the owner, you'd still consider that a crime, right?

If so, then you agree that situations where nobody is hurt and no permanent damage done can still be crimes.

If a user gets caught leaving a library with photocopies of public, published documents, would you consider that a crime too?

No, but I don't see how that's relevant to my point.. which was merely that it's possible for a person to commit a crime without harming anyone or doing damage.

Were you making that point in the abstract, or were you, I don't know, in a thread of comments on an article about Aaron Swartz?

He was responding to a comment making the argument that something cannot be a crime if no damage is done and no one is hurt. He even quoted the as much of the comment he was replying to.

Please, please, please, pay attention to context before accusing someone of ignoring context. It makes it very difficult for people to have nuanced debates about complex events if nobody is allowed to isolate a part of the problem independent of others.

> It makes it very difficult for people to have nuanced debates about complex events

Yes! Thank you, I was trying to put in words why the initial downvote wave on my comment really bothered me, and this is exactly it.

> cannot be a crime

I don't think I said that! I did say that if I had to chose between "federal crime" or prank that I'd chose prank. But if you extended the list to include misdemeanour or somesuch I guess I could see that.

> I did say that if I had to chose between "federal crime" or prank that I'd chose prank.

Sure, but that's a false dichotomy. The author was under no such constraint, so it was sensationalist and misleading for him to keep referring to it as a prank.

And when I say that, I'm not casting judgement here. The Boston Tea Party and the Rosa Parks protest weren't pranks either.

If they downloaded a copy of my car and didn't physically touch my car, then no. What were you thinking?


A private residence is not an institution. There for there is no parallel.

So many holes with your analogy. Rather than wasting my time explaining to you why it is wrong, I rather just tell you that you are showing extreme stupidity.

Rather than wasting my time explaining to you why it is wrong...

As a matter of fact, explaining why someone is wrong is generally less of a waste of time than insulting them.

Consider the benefits: they might learn things they didn't know, you will have a better understanding of your own feelings, and you may both get some insight into a different point of view than your own. These are, in my opinion, more valuable things than the fleeting satisfaction one gets from telling someone off.

Suppose it takes five times as long to write a decent comment as it would an insult. Would you rather look back at some point in the future and say "I wrote 50 insults", or "I wrote 10 good comments"?

Wouldn't MIT losing all JSTOR access for several days count as damage done? Given MIT's research focus and its size, it is hard to imagine how that could not have disrupted the work of a lot of researchers.

There's also the potential for harder-to-measure future damage. For example, when an organization like JSTOR approaches a publisher and tries to work out a deal that will allow university patrons access to one of their collections, a major factor in whether the publisher agrees is whether their data will be safe from scraping. When someone does scrape a large portion of it through just one of these arrangements, the publishers get spooked and less likely to make them in the future, and the end result is that the general public ends up with less access to knowledge than they had at the start.

I think it still has the wrong connotations. I think it's reasonable for a reader unfamiliar with the case to interpret "prank" to mean that there was no political motivation behind it. That it is better than "federal crime" is a false dichotomy.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact