Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz was a programming genius who formed many organizations and companies that would give access to free internet or at least help obtain that goal.  He was also a fellow at Harvard University’s Edward J. Safra Center for Ethics (Schwartz).  He was trying to make many Web files free and open to the public (Schwartz).  However, facing criminal charges of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines, Aaron Swartz supposedly committed suicide in 2013.  Swartz, an Internet Activist, was said to have stolen millions of documents from the company JSTOR. He believed that all information/files that was put up on the internet should be free to access for everyone (Schwartz).

The U.S. Intellectual Property law was set in place to protect the owners property.   “Rights and protections for owners of intellectual property are based on federal patent, trademark and copyright laws” (AIPLA).  For example, someone’s property might consist of a piece of writing, an artistic expression of some sort, and inventions.  What Swartz did ran into problems with the IP law.  Based on the law he would have had to ask permission from the owners of the files he wanted to publish on his free library site.   However, it would be problematic and a hassle to ask everyone to borrow or post something someone else had written or said.  In an interview with Swartz, he commented on how ridiculous and hard it would be to get permission when many people are dead.  He pointed out how you would have to pretty much ask permission for every word or phrase you want to use because someone else had come up with that word or phrase.  People would get nowhere if they followed the rules so literally.   The information posted on the web was put up so people could have access to it and Swartz and many others believe that you don’t need to pay for it.  It should be free public knowledge to all.

AIPLA. (n.d.). What is ip law?. Retrieved from http://www.aipla.org/about/iplaw/Pages/default.aspx

Schwartz, J. (2013, January 12). Internet activist, a creator of rss, is dead at 26, apparently a suicide. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/technology/aaron-swartz-internet-activist-dies-at-26.html?_r=0

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