January 14, 2013

Aggressive prosecution #2: Internet activist driven to suicide.

The Wall Street Journal delves into the prosecution of Aaron Swartz:
Mr. Swartz's lawyer, Elliot Peters, first discussed a possible plea bargain with Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann last fall. In an interview Sunday, he said he was told at the time that Mr. Swartz would need to plead guilty to every count, and the government would insist on prison time....

With the government's position hardening, Mr. Swartz realized that he would have to face a costly, painful and public trial....
He knew what he was doing was criminal, and he was a very intelligent man who chose to do it anyway and conceived of what he was doing as actively virtuous. Wouldn't a public trial serve his purposes in critiquing the laws he opposed and arguing for the liberation of the data files he tried to set free? (I'm picturing Swartz as a bit like those animal rights activists who steal into a mink farm and open all the cages. They believe that they are serving a call of morality higher than the interests embodied in the law they willingly violate.) It's civil disobedience, which — in classic form — demands that you take the law's punishment. That's part of the acted-out argument that the law is immoral.
"It was too hard for him to ask for the help and make that part of his life go public," [his girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman] said. "One of the things he felt most difficult to fathom was asking people for money."
His crime was about making more information freely public, and yet he cringed at publicity about his own plight, even where his plight was something he invited into his life and believed in as an especially good thing to do. Why the shame? Why not expose yourself as a martyr to laws you oppose?

Swartz's girlfriend and family released a statement saying: "Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy.... It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach." Understandably, they want to infuse their loss with meaning. But did the prosecutors go wrong?
The Massachusetts U.S. attorney's office declined to comment Sunday, saying it wanted to respect the family's privacy. But in a news release from July 2011, when the charges in the case were announced, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said, "Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar."...

The government indicated it might only seek seven years at trial, and was willing to bargain that down to six to eight months in exchange for a guilty plea, a person familiar with the matter said. But Mr. Swartz didn't want to do jail time.

"I think Aaron was frightened and bewildered that they'd taken this incredibly hard line against him," said Mr. Peters, his lawyer. "He didn't want to go to jail. He didn't want to be a felon."
But he knowingly and willingly committed numerous felonies, did he not? I'm not hearing the lawyer say that Swartz didn't do what the prosecutors said he did. The argument was that the law ought to be different. If you break the laws as a way to make that argument, how is the prosecutor supposed to respond? Your argument is to the public and to the legislators.

To say he didn't want to be a felon is to express a wish about the past. And it's a wish that wasn't even true. Swartz wanted to be a felon who eludes prosecution. Who gets that wish in a system of law? The intelligent, educated, nice-looking, good guy with lovely friends and family? The person who credibly threatens self-murder? The activist capable of articulating why the crime he committed should not be a crime? 

158 comments:

Mike said...

It's debatable whether he committed felonies or not. You can see some technical details here. MIT has an open network. JSTOR declined to prosecute him. The professors he supposedly wronged are posting the article online as a protest. This was a dubious prosecution at best, but it was going to be financially and personally ruinous. And this is not unusual behavior from prosecutors at all.

t-man said...

He simply sounds like most of the people I know, they don't really think about the consequences of their actions. Their lives have been a blessed surf on the gentle waves of late 20th Century (now early 21st Century) America, and they think that nothing bad can ever really happen to them, because they are so special/gifted/liberal.

edutcher said...

As I said over the weekend, this goes back to the Lefty canard during the hippie dippy era that the "good people" had a right and an obligation to break unjust laws, but, except for a night's stay in the hoosegow before Daddy's lawyers bailed them out, they also had the right to expect a slap on the wrist.

Bob Boyd said...

Didn't Swartz ever watch Baretta?

"Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

Quayle said...

I am totally serious, and I don't believe I am overstating the point, when I say that this issue - equal protection under the law - as well as the issue of various parties (mostly the left) trying to use shame and scorn to shut down public discussions, are very valuable contributions at this time, and perhaps two of the most beneficial uses of the prominence of the blog Althouse.

Of course we don't know your objectives for the blog, and probably shouldn't take the liberty to suggest.

But not bad raisons d'ĂȘtre, those.

James Pawlak said...

Try reading "Three Felonies A Day". It is not only that we have unjust laws, we have too many of such excuses for selective attacks by the government.

On the other hand, suicide is one means of cleaning the gene pool.

Strelnikov said...

Thank God David Gregory didn't have to go through something like this.

Jack Wayne said...

He killed himself because he found out he wasn't part of the protected ruling class.

David said...

Maybe his suicide was unrelated to the prosecution. Hard to know. Or maybe it's because he was young. A bad thing was about to happen to him. He had not expected it, because he thought he had done something heroic and would be rewarded for it. He didn't like the negative consequence of his own actions, and he was too young and inexperienced to realize that he could survive the consequences, and even learn from them in ways that might enhance his life.

It's a hard world, but even heavy blows are survivable in many cases. This guy was an elite. Our civilian elites are not learning how to deal with harsh.

Jack Wayne said...

He killed himself because he found out he wasn't part of the protected ruling class.

TosaGuy said...

I can square the concepts in my mind that the gov't did over reach and harrass and that this guy broke the law and couldn't handle the fact that the law also applied to him.

Just because it's digital doesn't mean it's free.

Jim Gust said...

JSTOR not only declined to prosecute, they ultimately adopted Swartz' idea and made everything publicly available after all. Even then, the vicious prosecutors would not bend. And as Mike noted above, technically there likely was no crime here at all.

I disagree with you completely on this one, Ms. Althouse. What started out as minor civil disobedience was escalated by foolish, ignorant prosecutors looking for a "scalp" to further political careers. Sure, there's some logic to Swartz bringing still greater publicity against an unjust law once he began civil disobedience, but not everyone has the fortitude and strength of M. L. King to follow through like that.

Swartz' had suffered from depression, it has been noted. Should not the prosecutors, or should I say persecutors, be required to take that factor into account? Was it not the case that their cruel, hard-line stance might foreseeably lead to suicide? Should they not be held to account?

You have lost sight of the fact that our society has lost forever the contributions that a genius, Aaron Swartz, wanted to freely share with us. We have kept the pathetic, ignorant Carmen Oriz, who lives to persecute another day.

You don't see anything wrong with that picture?

SGT Ted said...

The GF is blaming the wrong people, as usual with the "information wants to be free" narcissists.

Shouting Thomas said...

Weak person.

When I think of what Solzhenitsyn survived, or what my late wife survived as a street kid in Manila... well, what can I say?

This is obviously a kid who never had to deal with a beat down in life. He collapsed the first time he had to really deal with adversity.

The fault for killing himself is entirely his own.

Michael K said...

"
James Pawlak said...
Try reading "Three Felonies A Day". It is not only that we have unjust laws, we have too many of such excuses for selective attacks by the government. "

Exactly. The most left wing administration in our history is indulging in prosecutorial overreach. Doesn't that worry some of you ? It does me.

Stevens was the first show trial.

Mitchell the Bat said...

It's hard to believe a man would rather die than take a six month hit, even if the prosecution's offer required actual incarceration.

Nonapod said...

Swartz' had suffered from depression, it has been noted. Should not the prosecutors, or should I say persecutors, be required to take that factor into account? Was it not the case that their cruel, hard-line stance might foreseeably lead to suicide? Should they not be held to account?

A lot of people who regularly commit felonies suffer from some kind of depression. Should all their feelings be spared, or only people who are young, intelligent, good looking, and idealistic?

Bob Boyd said...

This guy Swartz did some great things in helping to kill SOPA. He probably pissed off some powerful people in DC.
I wonder what would have happened to David Gregory if he'd have used that illegal magazine to make a point in opposition to gun control.

Balfegor said...

Mike has already noted, but bears repeating: it's certainly not clear at all that he committed a felony by accessing an open network and then pulling documents which had been made freely available on that open network. Apparently, MIT's network (purposely) didn't even have the usual prompt requiring acknowledgement of terms of use.

His basic conduct is not in dispute (though there might be some factual disputes around the margins). The question is whether that conduct amounted to a crime at all under the laws as they exist today. It would not be the first time prosecutors relied on an overly aggressive interpretation of the law.

Shouting Thomas said...

Stevens was the first show trial.

Maybe so.

In that case, why didn't the kid show up?

SGT Ted said...

Ler us also rememeber that the draconian intellectual copyright laws were lobbied for and written by the entertainment industry, which is hardly a bastion of conservative ideology.

But, as long as you are perceived as a hip, cool person, you can make all the cash you like without being demonized. You can support onerous, punitive laws when it comes to your rice bowl too.

PatHMV said...

It's really not at all debatable that he committed felonies. MIT took active steps to stop him from getting on their network. He appears to have hidden his face from a surveillance camera because he knew what he was doing was wrong. That JSTOR "declined to prosecute" is immaterial. They did not consent to having him access this material, and they pressed MIT to stop the unauthorized activity coming through the MIT network. They wanted the government to stop him from accessing their database.

He was breaking the law, very clearly. Orin Kerr has a post analyzing the details up at Volokh.com right now.

Balfegor said...

RE: Mitchell:

It's hard to believe a man would rather die than take a six month hit, even if the prosecution's offer required actual incarceration.

I am told the loss of liberty entailed by incarceration is actually more terrible than one would think, on the outside. Also, even without the incarceration, you have to live through trial preparation, trial and testimony, and those all represent terrible burdens. It doesn't say in the article, but I'd also be curious if the government insisted that any plea agreement contain some sort of provision barring him from accessing computers or electronic networks (e.g. the internet) for a period of years after his release. I think the government has sought that in other cases.

Dante said...

Perhaps he made the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs. That is, by killing himself, he has brought a lot of focus to the issues. Who knows what the guy was actually thinking. Maybe even he didn't know.

Mark O said...

Too bad he didn't work for NBC.

I hope no one takes seriously the idea that today's criminal "justice" system is fair in any way.

Emil Blatz said...

He didn't watch Bareta, but he had a thing for "The A-Team" when he was quite young.


But seriously, Professor, I'm with you on this, I cannot develop sympathy for someone who got about what he should have expected (in terms of legal consequences.) You want a crusade? I got your crusade, right here!

Shouting Thomas said...

I hope no one takes seriously the idea that today's criminal "justice" system is fair in any way.

Has any criminal justice system at any time or in any place been entirely fair?

No.

Balfegor said...

Re: PatHMV:

Reading Kerr's post, I find myself more or less persuaded on wire fraud. Not on unauthorized access. Kerr writes:

"This is not merely a case of breaching a written policy."

My understanding (from reading posts sympathetic to the deceased) is that there was no written policy he was violating. Arguably, the technical limitations they were implementing on the fly constituted a kind of unwritten policy that communicated to him that his access was unauthorized, but I don't think you can just assume that.

PatHMV said...

Balfegor, he seems to have known his access was unauthorized, or why would he have tried to hide his face from the security cameras?

Nonapod said...

Perhaps he made the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs. That is, by killing himself, he has brought a lot of focus to the issues. Who knows what the guy was actually thinking. Maybe even he didn't know.

I suspect that could have been part of his reason for committing self murder, combined with his depression and the general hopelessness he felt at his situation.

He probably thought he was just tweaking authority for a just cause, just a little mischief in order to draw attention to something he felt was important. After all, nobody was physically hurt because of his actions. Then things got real, and the possibility of him actually doing prison time (even if only for a short time) became a very real possibility. That terrified him.

The government was clearly overzealous and far too aggressive. The prosecutors wanted to make some kind of example of him perhaps in the hopes of staving off more mischief of this nature from others like him. They were arrogant, brash and foolish. You wonder if any of them feel the least bit guilty about all this.

Lewke said...

I think Lessig said it best: "I get wrong. But I also get proportionality. And if you don't get both, you don't deserve to have the power of the United States government behind you."

What Aaron did was wrong but violating the terms of service is not a 6-8 month prison term crime, much less 35 years.

Balfegor said...

Re: PatHMV:

Balfegor, he seems to have known his access was unauthorized, or why would he have tried to hide his face from the security cameras?

Lots of people do that all the time. Young people wear hoodies even when they're not shoplifting.

Chris said...

I think the idea that the law should be equally applied to all guilty parties is nice, but so many things in the US have been criminalized. If it is true that prosecuting everyone who is guilty of a federal law would unacceptably deplete our resources (or result in having no one free any longer), then we need to have a discussion about the honesty and ethicality of prosecutorial behavior given that we are all potentially criminals. Pretending that prosecutors should just go after every potential law-breaker is no longer reasonable. And, it is especially troubling that those who challenge the system are punished harshly and disproportionately to their crimes without any systemic checks on them. It seems like Ann isn't really saying much of anything other than "i buy the prosector's line that he was a baddy, therefore, whatever he gets, he deserves". The question here is: should prosecutors really have that kind of power?

Thorley Winston said...

Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy has gone through the charges and thinks that they were based on a fair reading of the law based on Swartz’s alleged actions. It’s well worth a few minutes to read through his analysis and particularly noteworthy given that Orin has generally been a staunch critic of prosecutorial overreach and overly broad interpretations of the computer crime statutes.

PatHMV said...

Balfegor,

Separate from what MIGHT have been, do you believe that he was actually, subjectively, under the belief that his access to these systems was authorized? Given the totality of the efforts to lock him out, and his efforts to get around those lock-outs, I feel pretty comfortable saying that he knew that he was not allowed onto the systems for the purpose he was pursuing, and chose to do so anyway.

MadisonMan said...

When someone kills themselves, you really don't know what drove them to it. Trying to find a reason is a normal thing for the survivors (and internet commentariat members) to do, but ultimately, to accept, you have to understand that you will never understand.

In other words, I don't think you can say with accuracy that he was driven to suicide.

Mattman26 said...

Personally, I treat "stay out of prison" as akin to the Ten Commandments. And I am very much aware that a prosecutor's power, even with a flimsy case, can be mind-boggling.

Still and all, if there's a plausible reading of the law that leads to the conclusion that you committed a felony, and the prosecution will agree on a six- to eight-month sentence --- almost certainly in a "country club" setting where you need have no fear for your personal safety --- I find it a little difficult to blame the prosecutor for overreach. Do your time and move on, probably as a hero to many.

How this turned out is very, very sad, but I'm hard-pressed to see it as the prosecutor's fault.

Ann Althouse said...

"Mike has already noted, but bears repeating: it's certainly not clear at all that he committed a felony by accessing an open network and then pulling documents which had been made freely available on that open network."

Why isn't his lawyer saying that?

I don't think you have the facts right.

Original Mike said...

"The professors he supposedly wronged ..."

It seems to me, who he "wronged" is the journal (JSTOR). They charge a subscription for the journal. A subscription that I assume MIT paid to provide access for their faculty and students.

jr565 said...

Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar."...

exactly. Bonnie and Clyde were folk heroes for robbing banks, but at the end of the day they were robbing banks. And their lives ended in a hail of gunfire. If they killed themselves because the cops were closing in would that mean we should ignore their bank robbing.

I wish the guy didn't kill himself. but that doesn't mean he shouldn't have paid for his crimes.

lemondog said...

Exactly. The most left wing administration in our history is indulging in prosecutorial overreach. Doesn't that worry some of you ? It does me.

Yes, it worries me.

30,000 drones in American skies, civil liberties in jeopardy

jr565 said...

People are all outraged that the Journal released the details of all the gun owners in a retain county. Why then would anyone who was against that somehow say what this guy did was defensible.

Thorley Winston said...

Lots of people do that all the time. Young people wear hoodies even when they're not shoplifting.

Here’s a summary provided by Orin Kerr of what Swartz did:

“In Swartz’ first attempt, he purchased a laptop, went into a building at MIT, and used the MIT wireless network to create a guest account on MIT’s network. He then accessed JSTOR and executed a program called “keepgrabbing” that circumvented JSTOR’s limits on how many articles a person could download — thus enabling Swartz to start to download a massive number of articles. MIT and JSTOR eventually caught on to what was happening, and they blocked Swartz’s computer from being able to access the MIT network by banning the IP address that he had been assigned.


Swartz responded by changing his IP address, and it took a few hours before JSTOR noticed and blocked his new IP address. To try to stop Swartz from just changing IP addresses again, JSTOR then blocked a range of IP addresses from MIT and contacted MIT for more help. MIT responded by canceling the new account and blocking Swartz’ computer from accessing the MIT address by banning his MAC address, a unique identifier associated with his laptop.


Undeterred, Swartz tried again. This time he brought a new laptop and also spoofed the MAC address from his old one to circumvent the ban. Using the two latops and the program designed to circumvent JSTOR’s limits on downloading articles, he started to download a significant chunk of JSTOR’s database. A day or two later, JSTOR responded by blocking all of MIT’s access to JSTOR for a few days.


Again undeterred, Swartz came up with a different plan. Instead of trying to connect to the MIT network wirelessly, Swartz broke into a closet in the basement of a building at MIT and connected his computer directly to the network — hiding his computer under a box so no one would see it. Over a month or two period, he succeeded in downloading a major portion of JSTOR’s database.


Investigators were on to Swartz at this point, however. They installed a video camera in the closet to catch Swartz when he accessed the closet to swap out storage devices or retrieve his computer. Swartz was caught on camera, and he even seems to have realized that he was being filmed; at one point he was filmed entering the closet using his bicycle helmet as a mask to avoid being identified. (Here’s the picture.) Swartz was spotted on MIT’s campus soon after by the police and tried to run away, but he was then caught and arrested. Federal charges followed.”

Donald Douglas said...

Swartz was a coward who refused to accept legal responsibility for his civil disobedience. Ann, I got you linked up here: 'The Truth About Aaron Swartz 'Crime' — Remove the Quotation Marks and It's Not So Hard'.

McTriumph said...

First, any person committing suicide is tragic is, especially if they're young.

Secondly, he was guilty, but anyone ever close to a federal prosecution knows that prosecutors lie, mislead and threaten their target. It's a continual catch-22 situation. They constantly move the goal post and renege on agreements. If you defend yourself they keep tacking on obstruction of justice charges. They do all this while people like Corzine walk the streets.

garage mahal said...

Here’s a summary provided by Orin Kerr of what Swartz did:

Careful about that fair use, looks like too much pasted content for the copyright vampires. That could get you 5-10 yrs for "theft"?

[Although you're probably okay with Volokh].

Lyle said...

As brilliant as this man probably was, he just didn't get it.



Larry J said...

Shouting Thomas said...
I hope no one takes seriously the idea that today's criminal "justice" system is fair in any way.

Has any criminal justice system at any time or in any place been entirely fair?

No.


Equal justice under the law is one of America's favorite legal myths. It has been a lie for over 200 years.

mark said...

Ann Althouse said...
I don't think you have the facts right.

Ann. You probably have access to www.jstor.org , so just go to that website and download any article that interests you. My university has JSTOR access and the only limitation on access is that I use a university computer to download the articles. And the Terms and Conditions also state that I need to be affiliated with my university in some way (student, researcher, staff, etc).

I can download as many articles as I want. And share them with people too (they are research papers, that is the point of research papers).

So what did he do? He went on campus and downloaded articles. It is just that use used a script to download them rather then his browser.

JSTOR does request that you don't use any programs to burden their servers by downloading to many to fast. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions (5d) is basically ... "Don't be a jerk and burden our servers so others have trouble getting the articles".

Which his script obviously did. So JSTOR complained to MIT and they blocked wireless downloads. Then he plugged his computer into the wire. And downloaded again.

I could download all of the Annals of Mathematics from 1884 to 2007 by taking a day or two of "click save ... click save ... click save". Or I could write a simple script that would "click save ... click save ... " for me.

That is what he did. He ran his script on the open wireless network. And then using the wired network. Any MIT student could do that.

He ran into trouble for finding a place to plug in his computer. Same as a student walking into a lab, unplug the network from the lab pc, and plugging it into his laptop.

traditionalguy said...

All of the law and order defenders need to understand that Federal criminal accusations could be made about nearly every act we modern citizens do.

Federal prosecutors love over charging against the friendless and the soon to be poor enemies of the people. Attacking mythical enemies is best to get headlines from.

They remind me of Dur Fuhrer having having no choice except to enforce the Law against mistreating Germans committed by Polish bad guys in 1939.

The law is the law! But Justice is the last thing that Federal attorneys ever want to see done.

Federal prosecutors are political appointees up to their necks in politics answering to the powerful interests in society, and thus trying to get onto short lists for lifetime Judgeship appointments.

I suppose that Swartz was very intelligent. He realized what he was up against and that he had no friends to take his side.

Original Mike said...

I don't understand why they were threatening so much jail time. What, if anything, were they trying to extract from him?

Nonapod said...

I could download all of the Annals of Mathematics from 1884 to 2007 by taking a day or two of "click save ... click save ... click save". Or I could write a simple script that would "click save ... click save ... " for me.

That is what he did. He ran his script on the open wireless network. And then using the wired network. Any MIT student could do that.

He ran into trouble for finding a place to plug in his computer. Same as a student walking into a lab, unplug the network from the lab pc, and plugging it into his laptop.


There are precedents against using automated scripts (robots, spiders) to scrape or mine data from online databases.

McTriumph said...

I'm just guessing, but surely his lawyer explain to him that a low security federal prison is a relative cake walk. He also wouldn't have done much time, but I bet his biggest fear was being banned for life from ever using a computer. Think film maker.

Original Mike said...

"I can download as many articles as I want. And share them with people too ..."

I'm new to this story. Did he post them on-line after he downloaded them?

mark said...

Nonapod said...
There are precedents against using automated scripts (robots, spiders) to scrape or mine data from online databases.

Which points out the stupidity of law versus the spread of technology. If Southwest Airlines is OK with me reading and physically clicking. But sues me if I rather write a program that reads for me and clicks for me.

That is retarded.

Let's be fair here. Soon pages will only be read by programs. Programs that will take that information and deliver it to you in useful ways. Think "Google Now". It is the entire drive of the new standards of HTML, CSS, and XML content delivery. It is NOT meant for human eyes.

David Smith said...

I continue to be amazed at the apparent lack of interest in whether Schwartz was taking one of the antidepressants known to include an increased risk of suicide as a side effect. Is Pharma a less interesting boogey man than DOJ or MIT?

ricpic said...

Not guilty by virtue of being "very intelligent!"

furious_a said...

Swartz wanted to be a felon who eludes prosecution. Who gets that wish in a system of law?

David Gregory, for starters. "Not guilty by reason of connectedness."

garage mahal said...

I'm just guessing, but surely his lawyer explain to him that a low security federal prison is a relative cake walk

For 35 yrs? I'd kill myself too.

bpm4532 said...

It's always a problem when work for which the government paid, they attempt to charge for at normal page-print prices, when downloading only costs at most a penny.

Bob Ellison said...

David Smith said "I continue to be amazed at the apparent lack of interest in whether Schwartz was taking one of the antidepressants known to include an increased risk of suicide as a side effect."

I have read that the increased risk of suicide is thought to stem primarily from decreased inhibition and volition, not from some new "now I want to kill myself" thing. But I am not impressed that therapists really know what's going on very well in individuals; they are better at estimating broad trends.

mark said...

Original Mike said...
I'm new to this story. Did he post them on-line after he downloaded them?


He didn't make them public that I know of. I'm positive that his plan was to make them basically a public JSTOR without the "you have to be part of a university" restriction. He has stated that desire time and again for academic research and walled off information.

What hoops and restrictions should a citizen have to jump through to read "The Determination of the Mass of a Planet from the Relative Position of Two Satellites" from the 1884 Annals of Mathematics?

Original Mike said...

"What hoops and restrictions should a citizen have to jump through to read "The Determination of the Mass of a Planet from the Relative Position of Two Satellites" from the 1884 Annals of Mathematics?"

I'm assuming money was spent to digitize it and put it on-line. Whoever did that has a right to sell it, don't they?

ByondPolitics said...

You've misread the information about this case. He did not "break in" to anything. MIT's network is well-known to be the most open network of any other (university, or corporate). It's easier to use than many coffee shop networks. MIT has deliberately chosen this path in the face of its entrepreneurial hacker culture. It's discussed during orientation for new students & faculty and people are urged to keep their own computers and data safe because the network is open.

Secondly, he did not "break in" to MIT or even one of its closets. MIT is an open campus. The closet in question was open and also had the belongings of a homeless man within it.

The data that he captured, through the network which he had access too, was created with taxpayers funds, typeset with taxpayers funds, and publication costs were paid for by taxpayers funds.

He was asked to stop downloading so many papers (!); this is akin to asking someone to quit writing checks in a crowded grocery store because it inconveniences other community members. This becomes an issue regarding university policy towards its guests. That's hardly worth the punishment facing the young man.

I'm hardly surprised that he was overwhelmed by the malicious prosecution by lawyers who, like you, have little understanding of the internet, or even basic informatin such as how to access it with Python scripts (or any other language) and curl.

He was prone to depression and to quick action. He did not suffer fools gladly. He had a great deal of pride. His choices, while terribly sad, were consistent with a scared,troubled, and proud man.

I can see why you don't understand him. You don't have his incredibly sharp intelligence. However, you do have a terribly thin skin. Consequently, you are prone to arrogantly stand up for yourself when you receive the slightest of insults. Perhaps, if you tap into this core characteristic in yourself, you can begin to understand why he found this public trial so overwhelming. I'm not suggesting that you would choose suicide in similar circumstances. You don't seem to have much insight or compassion for depression, even when the sufferer has publicly confessed to having the illness (witness your recent dismissal of NYT best-selling author Wurtzel).

garage mahal said...

What hoops and restrictions should a citizen have to jump through to read "The Determination of the Mass of a Planet from the Relative Position of Two Satellites" from the 1884 Annals of Mathematics?

Especially when the public is funding it in the first place.

There is a good movement of academics around the world posting their research papers on-line in tribute to Aaron Swartz at pdftribute.net

Graham Powell said...

As it happens, this post about Swartz (whom I have a great deal of sympathy for) exactly corresponds to a conversation I had with a friend yesterday about Bradley Manning (whom I have zero sympathy for). I'm not sure why I see one as virtuous and the other as a sniveling weasel.

Leaving aside the results of their actions, they did pretty much the same thing: knowingly committed a crime, then when it came time to face the consequences, tried to duck them.

I have no explanation why I think Swartz should not have faced jail time but Manning should.

Alex said...

Weak person.

When I think of what Solzhenitsyn survived, or what my late wife survived as a street kid in Manila... well, what can I say?

This is obviously a kid who never had to deal with a beat down in life. He collapsed the first time he had to really deal with adversity.

The fault for killing himself is entirely his own.


I'm with ST on this. Guy was weak.

McTriumph said...

Garage
I doubt he would't have served more than five years. The 35 years was a typical scare tactic to get a plea of guilty and make a deal. No judge was going to whack him for 35 years for a non-drug, non-violent, non-cash crime, especially when MIT didn't press charges.

mark said...

ByondPolitics said...
I can see why you don't understand him. You don't have his incredibly sharp intelligence. However, you do have a terribly thin skin. Consequently, you are prone to arrogantly stand up for yourself when you receive the slightest of insults.


Just curious as to which commenter you are attacking with that.

traditionalguy said...

Another thought that a southerner can remember concerns the noble Abraham Lincoln which is now Obama's newest image of a good Federal Tyrant we should all love.

The goal of the Armies Lincoln sent south was 1)conquest 2)elimination of the highest valued of the assets of the Confederates 3) and a declaration that all southern Currency and bonds were worth nothing.

To keep the looted rebels quiet the Army then became an occupation force that ran martial law for 12 years.

The distressed market for farm land and burned out industrial assets
and destroyed transportation assets allowed them to be stolen for pennies on the dollar by Yankee carpet baggers who showed up with a few silver coins and the Federal Army backing them up..

When you think of Federal Prosecutors, think Sherman's Army sent by Lincoln with no mercy. That's what the Federal Prosecutors want us to think! That is what Obama/Pelosi wants us to think.

garage mahal said...

@McTriump
You might be right. Even 5 years would be an eternity to me, and I suspect Swartz. The government sought to break him, and they're probably glad he killed himself. Fuckers. It was also a clear warning to the Cambridge hacker community and anyone else that they could easily be next if they continue to challenge them and their status quo. Just a revolting abuse of power any way you look at it.

SGT Ted said...

Hey when someone bans you from a very open network, maybe thats a hint to stop doing what you are doing. Not look for ways to get around the multiple times they banned you.

That being said, the prosecutor is an ass. I hope he "Nifongs" himself someday out of a job.

Cedarford said...

McTriumph said...
Garage
I doubt he would't have served more than five years. The 35 years was a typical scare tactic to get a plea of guilty and make a deal. No judge was going to whack him for 35 years for a non-drug, non-violent, non-cash crime,
==========================
The problem with your theory is that Swartz and his lawyer went and sought a plea deal. The zealot prosecutor Carmen Ortiz, who was out laying the groundwork for a Wise Latina Governor run once mentor Parick Deval was done...And promising the left and Occupy!! she would have "white collar, non-minority heads" to show them she was going after non-minorities to the Max. Ortiz rejected the plea deal.
She demanded a guilty plea to every count. And fines to wipe out what money Swartz had.
Which, along with mandatory Fed sentencing minimums and lack of judge's discretion in Federal cases absent a plea deal - meant that Swartz was facing 25-35 years with no probation.

For a "crime", as Garage Mahal notes that involved giving the public access to information their tax dollars paid to create, and the actual offended parties - JSTOR and MIT, respectively wanted no charges filed, and with MIT, minor tresspass charges.

Now the dumb Latina is Internet villain #1 and a poster bitch for the growing fear Americans have that a procesutor has the descretion to ruin any ones life with the oveerreach of all the laws they can summon up to punish anyone.

mark said...

Graham Powell said...
I have no explanation why I think Swartz should not have faced jail time but Manning should.


These really get down to what he did and how he did it.

Swartz put a non-university computer on a university network. Via wireless and then wired network. Wireless is obviously allowed. Wired was not.

Swartz then downloaded lots of papers from JSTOR. Which is allowed by JSTOR. Via a script. Which is not allowed by JSTOR

Swartz was eventually going to make the articles freely available (though he hadn't actually done that). Which we have no idea if that is allowed or not. Because a research article's purpose of existence is to be distributed and read. Similar to how he posted pages of public domain information before.

Manning used restricted government computers with restricted government access to get restricted government information. And then posted that online. In WW2 they would have shot him after figuring out everyone he was connected to.

Swartz, to me, was the kid I kicked out of the computer lab because he unplugged the lab computer Ethernet so he could use it for his laptop.

Of course it is one thing to catch a kid using your Ethernet. It is a different matter to just catch only the computer. If I found a laptop left on my network, I would assume the worst (network sniffing of passwords, etc). And try and track them down and figure out what they were doing. Once that ball got rolling it was really too late for Swartz.

SGT Ted said...

The South deserved it for keeping slavery.

Cedarford said...

From Cato - Fed 2010:

HARVEY SILVERGLATE: An average, busy professional gets up in the morning, gets the kids to school, goes to work, uses the telephone or e-mail, has meetings, works on a prospectus or bank loan, goes home, puts the kids to bed, has dinner, reads the newspaper, goes to sleep, and has no idea that, in the course of that day, he or she has very likely committed three felonies. Three felonies that some ambitious, creative prosecutor can pick out from that day’s activities and put into an indictment.

In his foreword to my book, Alan Dershowitz discusses his time litigating cases in the old Soviet Union. He was always taken by the fact that they could prosecute anybody they wanted because some of the statutes were so vague. Dershowitz points out that this was a technique developed by Beria, the infamous sidekick of Stalin, who said, “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.” That really is something that has survived the Soviet Union and has arrived in the good old USA.


Add:

1. The not untrue statement that any lawyer doing their time should be able to manipulate a grand jury into "indicting a ham sandwich". And any lawyer that fails or fails to get convictions their boss wants at an acceptable rate has suffered serious career damage.

2. As the American system is more and more about the prosecutors office as a stepping stone to political power and or wealth in other lines of work - and thus needing the favor of powerful patrons and donors - The Main Rule is never piss off the patrons and donors of the Ruling Elites.
So Gregory gets his "pass", Teddy gets sobered up and gets his "pass", all the bankers get a wink and a nodd and word that not only will they get off scott-free on corruption theft and fraud - but taxpayers are tapped with more China IOUs to "make the bankers whole on their personal losses and bonuses that could have been lost in the Meltdown..
SO more and more, the public sees law as applying to different people differently.

Poor Swartz - Bright Jew, but somehow not in the protected class that the various uber-connected Jews like Feinsteins husband, Barney Frank, the Bankers at Goldman Sachs are.

Basta! said...

I don't know where this idea comes from, that everything on JSTOR was ultimately funded by US taxpayers. Some stuff, sure, but far from all.

There are a lot of academic fields that get minimal to no federal funding. And the research and writing of articles isn't always directly funded, but rather done by people "in between" working on their dissertation, or teaching courses, on their own dime and time. And the journals that serve as the main publication venues for research in certain disciplines are largely European. So the argument that, well, we US taxpayers paid for it so we US taxpayers should get free access, when applied across-the-board, doesn't cut it.

Original Mike said...

"What hoops and restrictions should a citizen have to jump through to read "The Determination of the Mass of a Planet from the Relative Position of Two Satellites" from the 1884 Annals of Mathematics?"

Why would anybody feel compelled to steal it?

lemondog said...

Wiki opening sentence on Carmen Ortiz

Carmen Milagros Ortiz (born 1956)[1] is a colossal cunt currently serving as the current US Attorney for the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Bob Ellison said...

Orin Kerr refers to the original indictment against Swartz. It's not a good read. Trying to figure out what the prosecutors think happened is like trying to read the mind of a frog translating birdsong from a sparrow.

Nonetheless, it does appear that Swartz did some harm (using up almost all the bandwidth, for example-- see paragraphs 21 and 22), and he obviously knew that he was doing something wrong. Don't let's be precious about it. He was not stupid. He knew it was not what was wanted. Maybe he felt pink unicorns should sprout everywhere, but that's not what the JSTOR or MIT folks thought was likely, no matter how they try nowadays to get on the right side of history.

mccullough said...

This young man was very foolish. The U.S. Attorney in Boston is a fucking cunt.

PatHMV said...

I'm all for open access to stuff, but somebody, somewhere has to pay for the work it takes to put it all on-line, to administratively handle the peer-review process, etc. The funding model for JSTOR to ensure that all that research was available to academic researchers was to require universities to pay subscription fees.

If the deceased had succeeded in his plan, and no action was taken, then universities would have had no reason to continue paying the fees to JSTOR that went to pay for those necessary expenses, because their faculty members would just be looking it up for free. If you want to accomplish the goal of making all that data openly available to all (and where did this idea come from that the result of the hard work of others should be free for all?), then you have to make some plan to pay for the work that is required to bring that to us. Otherwise, you're just an anarchist.

Crimso said...

"Is Pharma a less interesting boogey man than DOJ or MIT?"

K.C. and The Sunshine Band aside, I've spent years going through various drug regimens for chronic depression. Only one drug actually seemed to severely increase my depression. Most worked, but only for 6-8 months. I have been on my current combination for 3 years and have been in better mental health during that time than at any point in my life. No one is keeping it a secret that some people react to antidepressants by apparently becoming suicidal. (Ironically, I'm listening to Ween's "Zoloft" as I type this)

How many of you know that some antidepressants can increase thoughts of suicide? How many of you know how toxic acetaminophen is? How many of you know that some anticancer drugs cause cancer?

Nonapod said...

So Gregory gets his "pass", Teddy gets sobered up and gets his "pass", all the bankers get a wink and a nodd and word that not only will they get off scott-free on corruption theft and fraud - but taxpayers are tapped with more China IOUs to "make the bankers whole on their personal losses and bonuses that could have been lost in the Meltdown..
SO more and more, the public sees law as applying to different people differently.


It's pretty sad. I guess the only small consolation is that even with all that corruption and maleficence the U.S. system is still better than a lot of places on Earth (or at least that's how it's percieved). Despite the constant struggle to reach true equality for the accused under the law, wealth and the right connections have been and continue to offer huge advantages in this country and others.

chickelit said...

ByondPolitics preached: He did not suffer fools gladly. He had a great deal of pride.

I find those traits insufferable in people. Why are you boasting again?

William said...

A terrible loss of a person. A person of obvious talent and intellect.

That said, Aaron Swartz held beliefs that I think are destructive. SOPA and PIPA were flawed no doubt. But so was Swartz's belief that Copyright is irrelevant in the age of the Internet. This misguided belief stems, in part, from the idea that just because it is easy to circumvent Copyright protections should not be enforceable. Swartz also seemed to believe that everything belongs to everyone. That collectivist ethos constrains innovation, rather than encourage it.

Intellectual property is just as real as physical property. IP has fostered enormous innovation by providing incentives to not only create but also to distribute inventions and other protected works. I am not a fan of the entertainment industry or of laws like SOPA, but ultimately IP is what has driven innovation and economic growth (as opposed to redistribution of stagnancy)

That economic growth and vitality is the fruit of the genius of the founding fathers in that the Constitution empowers the federal government to, "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" Art 1 Sec 8 Cl 8.

Sadly, people like Swartz do not respect the rights of individuals and their efforts. The internet has forced an economic and cultural transformation in which we are only in the middle of. Ultimately I believe that this transformation and technology will embrace the power of IP.

Lem said...

One of the things he felt most difficult to fathom was asking people for money...

I completely and wholeheartedly identify with that.

This is even hard when the people I am made to ask owe me the money to begin with.

Eustace Chilke said...

Everyone knows that a prosecutor can name the person he wishes to jail or bankrupt first and then pick the most expedient charge with which to accomplish his goal. All their incentives are aligned to produce exactly the sort of political criminal we find in prosecutors. I've become practically indifferent to any criminal charge more complicated than robbery or murder.

A fool who waves a red flag in the face of the justice system has asked for the horns. The kid should have known what the game was and who he was fucking with.

Lem said...

The activist capable of articulating why the crime he committed should not be a crime?

We could not possibly be talking about one journalist named David Gregory.

No... we must talking about someone else.

chickelit said...

Especially when the public is funding it in the first place.

In the chemical arts, real people still abstract, catalog, & upload structures, etc. Perhaps garage believes those people should work for free. Perhaps garage also believes that all work is publicly funded and if it's not, should be.

Valentine Smith said...

The inexplicable has been unacceptable for some time now. So, slap a jacket on the man.

The legal jacket—prosecutorial—FELON
The legal jacket—advocate—UNJUSTLY ACCUSED
The shrink jacket—therapeutic—SICK
The social worker jacket—empathetic—MISGUIDED

I go with the shrinks. Bipolar I'd say, grandiosity followed by the fall into the black hole. In old fashioned terms, which I prefer— HUBRIS.

chickelit said...

Garage mahal's notions of what should be free are exactly like his notions of healthcare: it should be "free."

Yet he fails to account (pun intended) for who pays for the "free" access. Oh yes! Why the rich do or should -- but of course!

Original Mike said...

Swartz was an anarchist and the prosecuter is a cunt pretty much sums it up for me. I have little sympathy for either side, though the young man's emotional problems do engender sympathy.

Nonapod said...

Intellectual property is just as real as physical property. IP has fostered enormous innovation by providing incentives to not only create but also to distribute inventions and other protected works. I am not a fan of the entertainment industry or of laws like SOPA, but ultimately IP is what has driven innovation and economic growth (as opposed to redistribution of stagnancy)

I agree with all you say, but I also agree that as it stands right now copyright law (and certain aspects of patent law) may be doing more harm than good in terms of innovation and need to be looked at. In particular I think the current duration of Copyright in the U.S. is absurd (75 years after the original creators death? give me a break). And the concept of Software Patents I feel is dangerously nebulous and doesn't serve the public good in the long run.

mark said...

William said...
That economic growth and vitality is the fruit of the genius of the founding fathers in that the Constitution empowers the federal government to, "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" Art 1 Sec 8 Cl 8.


Don't miss that word "limited times". It was limited because they understood that innovation required two things: reward the creator and make the knowledge owned by the public. You do that with a limited monopoly (the reward). And then make the knowledge owned by the public after.

Public control is what has lead to the internet revolution. The Linux kernel, GNU, the various BSD's, and all internet standards are developed, from day one, with the idea of public ownership. That public ownership is what has allowed Google, Apple, Amazon, Android, RedHat, New York Stock Exchange, VMware, every data center the in world, the Internet itself, and more than I can possibly name to even exist.

Development needs rewards and materials. Publicly free knowledge is the materials we all use to create something new. Whether it is mathematics or the kernels that fire up your smart phone. The more material, the more development.

You then encourage the innovator with the rights to have a limited time to their creation. Then, it gets added to the material pile for the next innovator. Of course some people just add a free license and toss it into the pile after they create it.

chickelit said...

And the concept of Software Patents I feel is dangerously nebulous and doesn't serve the public good in the long run.

You might be interested in the recent decisions called Bilski (patentability) and KSR (obviousness).

garage mahal said...

Garage mahal's notions of what should be free are exactly like his notions of healthcare: it should be "free."

Great argument. Funny how you snuggle right up to Obama when it comes to the crushing power of the government over personal freedom.

mark said...

Original Mike said...
Why would anybody feel compelled to steal it [stuff from 1884 Annals of Mathematics]?


How can you steal knowledge you own?

Seriously. You, Original Mike, own that. You can read it out loud in a crowded theater. You can make a copy and have lulu.com publish paper copies that you then sell for $1000 each.

You can read it, learn from it, show it to a smart kid. Who may then develop new ideas on applied mathematics just because he read that paper.

Because it is owned by him. And you. And me. Literally. That is why they call it public domain.

The sad part is that opportunity for a smart kid to read it and make the next great thing ... is disappearing due to the Federal Government being paid off by idiots like Disney.

PatHMV said...

mark,

How do you think the people who scan and digitize the 1884 Annals of Mathematics should be compensated?

chickelit said...

Great argument. Funny how you snuggle right up to Obama when it comes to the crushing power of the government over personal freedom.

Isn't DoJ Holder's bailiwick? I'd be glad to see him go too!

Rick Caird said...

Mark tells us: "Wireless is obviously allowed. Wired was not."

That is a bad assumption. As long as the network had DHCP to assign IP addresses to wired devices, wired was allowed. I would bet there were numerous places to connect an Ethernet wire.

Original Mike said...

@Mark - I'm not a lawyer, much less a law professor, so maybe I've got this wrong, but it seems to me that while a paper may be in the public domain, that doesn't mean the public has free access to it through JSTOR, who (I assume) expended resources to put it on-line.

I download papers all the time, using subscriptions paid by the University of Wisconsin. And I share them with my colleagues and hand them out in class. However, I see little resemblance between what I do and what Swartz was doing.

mark said...

William said...
Intellectual property is just as real as physical property.


No it is not. I can take physical property from you. And keep it from you.

I can hear your ideas. But, how can I steal them? Is my hearing or reading of your ideas ... stealing them from you? I can't actually take them. You still have the ideas.

On the other hand, I can limit your ability to gain wealth from them.

Ideas are self growing objects. They can't be used up. They can't be worn out. Then can spread without limit. They can be used to create something new.

And that last part is VERY important to any society. Old ideas are used to create new ideas. And the more people that have access to the old ideas, the more new ideas are created.

So how to grow the idea pool?

Reward the creator. And eventually add their idea to the free public pool.

That is very different from physical property.

chickelit said...

You can read it, learn from it, show it to a smart kid. Who may then develop new ideas on applied mathematics just because he read that paper.

When was a kid I read encyclopedias like Collier's. My parents bought them. They were chock full of "public domain."

Seriously, the argument of "free for nothing" information is a silly one. You're arguing for a lower price point is all. Admit it.

chickelit said...

Reward the creator. And eventually add their idea to the free public pool.

That is very different from physical property.


Initial ownership of a patentable idea belongs to the inventor. But patents are bought and sold like property. Are you suggesting that be changed?

garage mahal said...

I'd be glad to see him go too!

Why? In your view Holder is prosecuting the "right" people and not prosecuting the "right" people.

chickelit said...

Holder's decisions are hardly 100% all bad. It's the difference between the good ones and the bad ones which accumulate to a net "good" or "bad"

Original Mike said...

"And the more people that have access to the old ideas, the more new ideas are created."

I could not agree more.

For most of my life I read the literature by slogging on down to the library and manually searching for whatever it was I wanted (assuming I was smart enough to know what I was searching for in the first place). Now, I sit in my office and find things I need that I didn't even know existed in the first place. This is possible because people have expended money and effort to put them there. That effort needs to be compensated or it will cease.

You would kill the goose.

MarkD said...

He lacked the requisite connections - like David Gregory, Eric Holder or Teddy Kennedy, to commit felonies with impunity. Bug, meet windshield.

mark said...

chickelit said...
Seriously, the argument of "free for nothing" information is a silly one. You're arguing for a lower price point is all. Admit it.

... and ...

Initial ownership of a patentable idea belongs to the inventor. But patents are bought and sold like property. Are you suggesting that be changed?


Not a lower price point. That people begin to accept the new reality of communication. You could read that public domain information because the printing press made copying that information by hand obsolete.

Millions of pages for low cost brought that information to you. It is why new knowledge exploded once the movable type press along with inexpensive paper came on the scene. Old knowledge was available to a statistically larger group. Within TWO generations of the 1500's more new knowledge was created then the previous 2000 years. Today the internet is to the printing press as the press was to hand copies. More people can get more information to create more things. And the society who is most free will soon outpace the leftovers wringing their hands at protecting buggy whip manufacturers.

And just as many businesses centered around the control of hand copies died with the press. Many businesses and concepts centered around the press will die as well. Research Journals are just one of those entities.

And buying copyrights or patents is buying the temporary government enforced monopoly on the ideas expressed in them. That monopoly is one way to encourage new ideas for some people. Let them make money on it. For a REASONABLE amount of time.

25 years after creation at most.

Anything beyond that is killing innovation and starving the development of the next innovator.

mark said...

PatHMV said...
How do you think the people who scan and digitize the 1884 Annals of Mathematics should be compensated?


The same way we reward Google for doing it ... make Google figure that out. Google does go into libraries and scan public domain documents and make it "free" to the world.

They choose to make their money on how the distribute that knowledge. Ads, links to paper copies, etc.

And what is a scan worth?

I grab an 40 year old textbook for free at a trash recycle. Cut off the binding and pass it through a feed scanner. Run it through OCR. All for essentially zero cost. And I have an editable version of the information. Far better then any paper or .pdf.

That specific information was dead and near lost to the world. Now I have it in a format who's cost of sharing and reproduction is near zero. And the worth to the original author was zero.

But, the law would have me go to jail if I email it to a friend? If I share it with students of the textbook's field?

jr565 said...

garage mahal wrote:
For 35 yrs? I'd kill myself too.


So, then, don't do illegal shit and you won't have to.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
And buying copyrights or patents is buying the temporary government enforced monopoly on the ideas expressed in them. That monopoly is one way to encourage new ideas for some people. Let them make money on it. For a REASONABLE amount of time.

25 years after creation at most.

Anything beyond that is killing innovation and starving the development of the next innovator.

Have you seen the movie, Searching for Sugarman? There the guy was a singer in the 60's who's music went nowhere in the states. ANd he had to give up music and live and work in menial jobs as a nobody. Yet, in South Africa his music was famous. 30 years later someone tries to find who this guy is and makes a movie out of his life.
Under your interpretation of copyright he shouldn't get anything for them using his music or making a movie about his life.
That doesn't sound right.
Also, 25 years doesn't seem like that long. Granted Paul McCartney is fabulously wealthy. By the same token though, why shouldn't he and Ringo be able to determine how their work is used if they're still alive?

Original Mike said...

"It is why new knowledge exploded once the movable type press along with inexpensive paper came on the scene."

Gutenberg (rightfully) expected to be paid.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
That specific information was dead and near lost to the world. Now I have it in a format who's cost of sharing and reproduction is near zero. And the worth to the original author was zero.

But, the law would have me go to jail if I email it to a friend? If I share it with students of the textbook's field?

It depends on whether someone is still selling that book, and even moreso if someone is selling that book as a PDF.
IF you share it with enough people where you undercut the makers of the books ability to earn a profit, then yes, you should have to deal with the law.
Take an example of music. Apple goes into contract with AC/DC to sell AC/DC's music in a digital format. To do this, both Apple and AC/DC are going into business together and signing an agreement to split proceeds of said sales.
They could refuse to ever sell their music online, but instead choose to go into business with APple. That should be the only distribution model whereby you are getting digital copies of their music.
If you have a file with all of their music in a bit torrent and you then share it on the internet you are in effect sharing it with millions of people.

You didn't go into business with AC/DC to use their music like that. Why should Apple have to engage in a multimillion dollar agreement with AC/DC if you can simply take that same music and "share it". Further, those companies sharing the music are not exactly non profits. They make money by either advertising or charging for higher upload speeds or however they've determined their business model to run. All on the backs of AC/DC's music.
Did THEY go into business with AC/DC? Apple, did. Amazon did. Did you?

jr565 said...

IF you're scanning and sharing a book that is not sold anymore and noone has the copyright then it's fair game.
And note, the real issue is the sharing, not the copying. The law can't really stop you from making a copy of that work, even if they wanted to.

mark said...

jr565 said...
Also, 25 years doesn't seem like that long. Granted Paul McCartney is fabulously wealthy. By the same token though, why shouldn't he and Ringo be able to determine how their work is used if they're still alive?


Original USA copyright was 14 years with a right to make an extension for a second 14 years. Then it went public domain. I like that better then my 25 year rule.

And the reason why it should be limited is that it is better for the NEXT Beetles to have the old Beetles work in public domain. And for the public to actually have access to their work in the future.

One person feeling robbed of his lottery chance is not a reason to cripple development and continued access to knowledge. There were recordings of musical work in the 1920's that, I'm sure, are far better then your example. And their work is lost forever. Because we couldn't make copies of it. By law.

What of bands who only released on 8 track? Or someone who's last copy of their poems is in WordStar on a 5 inch floppy? Or a song only recorded in a DRM protected real media format?

Long time frames of protection kills each of those works. It is one core reason for public domain ... survivability of knowledge. Especially for patents.

Before that the only way to make money was trade secret. Just don't tell anyone. But that meant the knowledge died with you. How much was lost to that? Patents were a way to get people to tell everyone about what they did, in exchange for a limited monopoly on its use.

After that the knowledge would never be lost to time. Copies and improvements would be made. And real development would usually explode after the patent expired.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
I can hear your ideas. But, how can I steal them? Is my hearing or reading of your ideas ... stealing them from you? I can't actually take them. You still have the ideas.

A movie contains my ideas. To see the movie you have to go down to a movie theater and pay 10 bucks for a ticket. If you sneak in the back door you havne't stolen my idea but you did not pay for your ticket the way you're supposed to.
You just want to make all things open source for your convenience.
If Linux whants to make its OS open source then you should download it to your hearts content. If Microsoft doesnt' then you should pay what they want you to pay if you want to use Windows 7.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
And the reason why it should be limited is that it is better for the NEXT Beetles to have the old Beetles work in public domain. And for the public to actually have access to their work in the future.

One person feeling robbed of his lottery chance is not a reason to cripple development and continued access to knowledge.

How is The Beatles charging for their songs crippling development, OR denying access? If you want access you pay the cost for access. IF you don't then you don't.
BUt it's not as if there is no shortage of access to The Beatles. THe cost of access is .99 cents for a song.

mark said...

@jr565

Copyrights, patents, and knowledge are about more then the few rich. Who cares about Apple, Google, AC/DC, The Beetles, etc. Corporations may be able to survive longer then people, but the extensions of their ability to continue to make wealth beyond a reasonable limit makes society poorer.

The DRM digital formats of Apple guarantee that much its music will be lost in 120 years. More knowledge pre-1922 is available today then post-1922. And more and more of post-1922 is being lost to the landfills and age because copyright extensions are killing copying.

Have any files in WordStar? AmiPro? Lotus 123? WordPerfect? Specialized database programs of the DOS era? Even a 14 year copyright will most likely have still killed your access to them.

The only way to survive time is to copy. And if you can't copy. You killed the text.

Original Mike said...

You can have my WordPerfect when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
What of bands who only released on 8 track? Or someone who's last copy of their poems is in WordStar on a 5 inch floppy? Or a song only recorded in a DRM protected real media format?

There is some gray area whereby certain information falls through the cracks. But in the case of the band who's music is only on 8 track. Is it still under copyright? If so, then shouldnt the band be the ones making the determination to put their music on CD or online? If you see a market opportunity to put the bands music up on iTunes or sell it yourself I would think you should clear it with the band first. Or go into the business with the band to releast their music in a different format.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote: The DRM digital formats of Apple guarantee that much its music will be lost in 120 years. More knowledge pre-1922 is available today then post-1922. And more and more of post-1922 is being lost to the landfills and age because copyright extensions are killing copying.

Have any files in WordStar? AmiPro? Lotus 123? WordPerfect? Specialized database programs of the DOS era? Even a 14 year copyright will most likely have still killed your access to them.

The only way to survive time is to copy. And if you can't copy. You killed the text.

Copying is not the same as distributing. If you find a copy of DOS that's on a floppy disk that will otherwise be lost, and you make a copy of it so long as you aren't distributing it there's nohting that can really be done about it. But if you are distributing it that's another story. It's not yours to distribute.

jr565 said...

For example, AC/DC just, after years of not doing so, put their music up online to sell. That is their right. What if all the CD's of AC/DC were gone and all that was left was your 8 track tapes.
Shouldn't AC/DC determine whether to sell their music on itunes or to go open source and give their music away? Why do YOU get to make that choice?

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
The DRM digital formats of Apple guarantee that much its music will be lost in 120 years.

Apple allows you to change the format of the music you bought through iTunes to non DRM copies. But if Apple's format does guarantee that the music is lost so what? It's Apple's music to do with as it sees fit. (not that Apple actually writes or distributes music). In 120 years Im sure they can update their format so that the music will not in fact be lost. Can't they just make a copy of a digital file?

mark said...

jr565 said...
There is some gray area whereby certain information falls through the cracks. But in the case of the band who's music is only on 8 track. Is it still under copyright?


Copyright is 70 years after the death of the last copyright holder. Or 120 years if it is a contract work.

Be kind of hard to talk to the band. I'm not good at raising the dead.

No. It would be safe to say that ALL that music will be lost. The grey area will be the random illegally copied songs that survived. The black and white is the lion's share of dead material in landfills.

Biff said...

I'm amused/intrigued/dismayed by the number of people who seem to think that all scholarly research is paid for by "the public," i.e. the government. Even at state schools, quite a bit of research is funded from private sources, like private foundations, private donations from wealthy individuals, endowment proceeds, and yes, even general funds raised by tuition.

That's not to say that government does not play a large role in our universities; of course it does. At the same time, when I was in academics, there were periods when the direct costs of my research, including my personal compensation and benefits, were covered by non-government grants. (To be fair, government funding did help pay for indirect institutional costs, like the chairman's three administrative assistants.)

Quite a few universities put their financial statements online. Look at some of them; you might be surprised at the extent of non-government funding, especially at major research schools like MIT, Harvard, Yale, etc.

Biff said...

Eustace Chilke said..."A fool who waves a red flag in the face of the justice system has asked for the horns. The kid should have known what the game was and who he was fucking with."

He was not a kid. He was an adult...an adult with supposedly genius-level intelligence, sterling credentials, influential friends, and a (formerly?) large bank account obtained from selling a technology company to a media giant.

My parents expected more responsibility from me when I was fifteen than society expects today from twenty-six year olds.

Harrumph.

Methadras said...

James Pawlak said...

Try reading "Three Felonies A Day". It is not only that we have unjust laws, we have too many of such excuses for selective attacks by the government.

On the other hand, suicide is one means of cleaning the gene pool.


Not only own it, but i've read it many times over and use it as a clear example of the prosecutorial over-reach and the onerous laws we all live under and don't even realize we are unconvicted felons. From murder to jaywalking, the law is and always was about one thing and one thing only, money.

jr565 said...

William wrote:
That said, Aaron Swartz held beliefs that I think are destructive. SOPA and PIPA were flawed no doubt. But so was Swartz's belief that Copyright is irrelevant in the age of the Internet.

He was a douche. Even if he felt that way that was no reason he should feel entitled to act that way. Especially if the laws say otherwise.
ANd if you run afoul of the law, even if they are stupid laws, you just might get brought before a magistrate.

Joe said...

Reading comments by people who knew Swartz, like Cory Doctorow, and it becomes clear that Swarts suffered from debilitating depression and other mental maladies. In short, this was one fucked up guy, however brilliant.

Some of the reaction to this event seems to suggest that because he was so smart, Swartz should have been given a pass--should have been treated with kid gloves. Why?

insurance said...

uptil I saw the bank draft four $9703, I be certain that...my... neighbours mother was like truley taking home money in there spare time online.. there neighbor haz done this 4 less than 21 months and as of now paid for the dept on their appartment and bourt themselves a Dodge. we looked here.... CLICK HERE

Original Mike said...

"I'm amused/intrigued/dismayed by the number of people who seem to think that all scholarly research is paid for by "the public," i.e. the government."

Hell, 47% of the public didn't pay for the government supported work.

mark said...

jr565 said...
Shouldn't AC/DC determine whether to sell their music on itunes or to go open source and give their music away? Why do YOU get to make that choice?

and

In 120 years Im sure they can update their format so that the music will not in fact be lost. Can't they just make a copy of a digital file?


First. Because I'm part of the public. We make that choice because we grant limited copyrights via law. And because we understand that copyrights are beyond music. Like I said. I don't care about protecting AC/DC. And their imagined rights for eternal money long after they are dead.

The laws to protect them, harm YOU. They harm the public at large. For a reason. This was hashed out years ago with the creation of copyright laws. And the understanding that government monopolies are harmful for society. But, required for short term insentives to create works.


And how can Apple make a copy if they don't exist? They will not exist in 120 years. Name a corporation older the 120 years. Not many of them.

Here is a simple example.

I had a series of 20 year old 5 inch floppies handed to me. On them were a backup of a propritary database and operating system made right before they destroyed the computer. They asked if I could get the information out of the database.

ANY work I would do for them would have been illegal.

Copy of the OS, illegal. Copyrighted by the OS software company for the next century.

Copy the program, illegal. Copyrighted by the database software company no longer in existance for the next century.

Copy the data structure, illegal. Copyrighted by the database software company no longer in existance for the next century.

Hack out their information from the database, illegal. File format copyrighted by the database software company no longer in existance for the next century.

Too bad. They really really needed the data.

My advise. Go back to 14 year + 14 year extension copyrights. And use 10 year + 10 year extension copyrights on software.

William said...

Mark,some interesting thoughts many of which are not inconsistent with the point of my post.

That IP rights are limited by time is part of the genius of the Constitutional underpinning of IP law.

There is indeed a lot of open source code, art work, music and invention which has lifted mankind technically, economically and culturally. Invariably commercial extension of open source IP is shrouded in some form of protection. Apple, Google, etc are hardly eleemosynary institutions even though they have built business models around adaptations of open source. At the same time, they are fiercely protective of their innovations.

All of which leads me back to my original point. That is the genius of IP is not solely in the incentive to create, but the incentive to make innovation available to others.

Added to that is the idea that once IP is available, others can innovate around it, extending it, adding to it, improving it. IP does not create an impenetrable monopoly. It creates a system of rewards to original authors and inventors, while at the same time providing a basis for further innovation.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
Copy of the OS, illegal. Copyrighted by the OS software company for the next century.

Copy the program, illegal. Copyrighted by the database software company no longer in existance for the next century.

Copy the data structure, illegal. Copyrighted by the database software company no longer in existance for the next century.

Hack out their information from the database, illegal. File format copyrighted by the database software company no longer in existance for the next century.

if its legal or illegal that's the rules. Suppose you had to make a copy of the database and it fell in the time frame that you felt copyright should be allowed. It would still be inconvenient to not be able to copy the data off of the database, right? Would you then make the argument that copy right law should be changed from what you just said it should be set to because it was inconvenient to copy info from a database in that time frame too?

I'm a fan of macs. And as you know they replace os 9 with OS X close to ten years ago. Some suggested try should release OS 9 as open source. It may be a good idea, but in my view its Apples to make. If they don't want that info to be freely available then even if its inconvenient for the rest of us, so be it. If you get your hands on Os 9 you can tinker with it, but do it on your time and try not to get caught. If you decide to distribute it though, you are clearly in violation.

ByondPolitics said...

I'm still troubled by how badly you described Mr. Swartz's actions. Our society is in real trouble when lawyers blather on about subjects as if we were in a previous century.

It's ludicrous to equate him with one who knowingly committed a felony when he purposefully chose an open campus for his actions.

It's bizarrely cold to question his motives before his mother has even had the chance to hold his funeral. Surely as a mother of similarly aged young men, you must see that.

Perhaps one of your readers will find the following interesting: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mtpiii/the-terrible-logic-behind-the-governments-case-ag
It's written by an attorney with a better understanding of the facts.

lemondog said...

Video of Aaron Swartz on SOPA and its defeat
Freedom to Connect: Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) on Victory to Save Open Internet, Fight Online Censors

Fear of intrusive government. A passion for freedom.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
And how can Apple make a copy if they don't exist? They will not exist in 120 years. Name a corporation older the 120 years. Not many of them.

why would apple not be able to copy their own applications. This smacks of Y2k type fears.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

Look, the prosecutors didn't force him to kill himself. He did that on his own. And some of this is starting to smack a bit of emotional blackmail. The idea that we have to somehow validate him or make him into a martyr because he was hounded to his death by Javert.
Screw that. If you are going break the law on principle then you shold defend that principle. When MLK was marching for civil,rights he went to jail for his beliefs. This guy didn't have the courage to stand on principle. Hell, he might have won the case (he wouldn't have ,but lets pretend).
He would get to state his principles and defend them in court. Instead his followers are now trying to do a run around and validate their position because of his death. See for example the takeover of MIT as if MIT caused this kid to commit suicide. MIT is the one that this kid downloaded 4 'million articles from.

I have to say, I have a major problem with this kids belief that he was entitled to all this information simply be ause it was available on the Internet.
Your banking info is available online. Why isn't that something that should be freely available and distributed.
Here's how someone's described his beliefs:
"He was also known for promoting free distribution and access to information on the Internet, sometimes called “free culture” — he also clashed with authorities over this. Last year, he was accused of illegally downloading 4 million academic articles.

For Swartz, this wasn’t stealing. To him knowledge truly was power. He believed access to information on the Internet was a basic right — or should be — for everyone. To him, the idea was that unfettered access to knowledge would help everyone to realize their full potential.

Put another way, Swartz advocated a redistribution of intellectual wealth.

His view was pure and in many ways true. However, it has a major flaw. Free culture advocates ignore, or don’t care, that the producers of information — those who toil to produce research, report on issues, solve problems — deserve rewards for their work.

Many of the free culture school believe information is like the right to breathe, and intellectual property rights just got in the way of a more perfect world. A flat-screen TV could be designed, produced and sold, but if you worked years to study microbes, paint the Mona Lisa, or produce psychiatric research, the Swartz school argued that if it could be uploaded and then downloaded, then tough luck."

I have such a problem with his view of what he felt he was entitled to. Totally not respecting privacy, intellectual property or law. It's not his information to distribute. Who is he, Tyler Durden?
So he got caught after downloading 4 million articles. If you don't want to do the time, don't do the crime. Or stand on principle and defend why that is right. It isn't right. And in fact he was nothing but a saboteur.

jr565 said...

Also, wasn't Swarz offered a deal to only go to jail for 6 months? He should have taken the deal.

His suicide was his choice alone.

jr565 said...

Why is the publishing the list of gun owners online somehow some horrible thing, but downloading or distributing I formation that a company doesn't want to publish some noble thing. if information should be freely available, then I want to see all the free cultures bank records, as well as the address of their kids.
As well as their address and phone numbers and credit card information. Because its simply 1‘s and 0's bits and bytes tht should be freely available, and because knowledge is power.
How can you even say you stand for privacy if you think that info should be freely avaiable for people to hack and distribute.
We should see all of Swarz's medical records. We should know what ant depressants he was taking, who he was screwing, where his mom lives. And if she works for a company we should have her work phone number and any data tht her company produces.
We should know when the funeral is and have cameras there and blog it live, even if the parents want privacy.

I'm just channeling Shwarz's free culture ethos.

jr565 said...

It's a good thing Aaron created Reddit because frankly he's not trustworthy enough to work at any company anywhere, what with his propensity to disseminate other people's work and ideas without permission.
Imagine if he worked for a law firm. He's leak all the info from Mwrgers and acquisitions in he intersect of disemminating free info.
Or he'd probably hack into all the partners accounts and then release whatever info he thought should be released.

That goes for anyone believing in free Internet. Any company you work for should be fearful that you are going to violate your terms of agreement and just leak or reveal or distribute their data for your purposes or
Just because.

jr565 said...

Someone should leak the personal information of anyone who ever posted in Reddit. Their bank records, their social security numbers their credit card info. And host a site for those who want to, say, engage in identity theft.
And why not? It's bits and bytes. No one is stealing anything by revealing the info (ie you still have your bank account and credit card) and its important (to me) that said info is disemminating. And Redditt is a company with info online. As such it's fair game. Your info is fair game.

I

Fly said...

You are one of the best authors of legal articles I read during last year. Would you please write something to the section of legal articles on Attorney Online. There is also an Attorney Directory where lawyers can submit for free their contacts. I hope to gather there all best US lawyers.

William said...

Lemondog - while I share Swartz's abhorrence of intrusive government, I believe freedom and liberty include rights of ownership of property.

Swartz's notion that the "right to connect" on the Internet means that there is no intellectual property right protection is illogical. You can connect any way you want without usurpation of others work and innovation.

SOPA/PIPA were bad pieces of legislation. Swartz aligned with "information companies" who fiercely protect their own work, while building business models that exploit other's work -- and there is nothing wrong with that so long as intellectual property rights are protected.

SOPA was classic governmental overreach - as is involuntary collectivism by way of sanctioned theft of the work of others.

lemondog said...

I believe freedom and liberty include rights of ownership of property.

And I don't disagree.

The video shows his clear fear of government intrusion.

His hacking, a crime, seems an issue separate from SOPA, or perhaps it was an extension of it as his idealistic challenge to government interference.

mark said...

jr565 said...
I'm just channeling Shwarz's free culture ethos.

and

It's a good thing Aaron created Reddit because frankly he's not trustworthy enough to work at any company anywhere, what with his propensity to disseminate other people's work and ideas without permission.


You are sounding a little bit loony you know. That accusation that "all your information belongs to us" is rather crazy. This isn't about making all information public domain you nut.

This is about balancing two conflicting ideas. Isolated Knowledge and Public Knowledge. A good balance between the two is needed for a healthy growing society.

Do you have any real idea of public domain? And intellectual property? You really need to read the history and the reasons why the USA had 14+14 copyrights. And not just public domain. And not just permanent control by the creator.

If you don't like things like public domain, creative commons, general public licenses, BSD licenses, and other aspects of publicly owned knowledge. Please hit your Mac with a hammer (BSD Kernel). Smash your cell phone. Never access the internet. Never use mathematics. Or science. Or medicine.

Strip naked and live outside.

Because without building new stuff on public ideas you have nothing. The simple fact is that if we accepted today's insane copyright time frames back in the 1600's. Then we would be living like any poor dirt farmer of the 1700's.

Thomas Jefferson was an advocate of the public building upon old knowledge proposed that a short time span for copyright be added to the Bill of Rights!

Ever wonder why Germany in WW2 was so far ahead in science then the rest of the world? In mathematics? In rockets? In metal? In the study of atoms?

Their LACK of a copyright law in the early age of the printing press made sure their mathematics and science development outpaced the world for then next 250 years.

I don't advocate anything that extreme. But, it is a simple metric that the shorter the copyrights. The faster the development of mathematics, sciences, and the arts. The longer the copyright, the slower the development.

It is a fact of life. And using insulting comments with no basis in reality, like you did in your last statements, doesn't help your position. And stating that my comments for a return to the 14+14 copyright system as wanting to publish gun owner addresses or your bank accounts or whatever silly thought entered your head. Is plainly dumb.

Can you explain why a return to 14+14 copyright would be harmful to the USA?

My argument is that it would speed development of education, mathematics, sciences, etc. As demonstrated in the past.

ByondPolitics said...

More, about Swartz: http://www.technologyreview.com/view/509841/why-aaron-swartzs-ideas-matter/

As a commenter points out, the prosecution was warned that Swartz was suicidal. Through other sources, I've heard that the prosecution offered to lock him up immediately.

All ignorant lawyers who bully should be shamed.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
You are sounding a little bit loony you know. That accusation that "all your information belongs to us" is rather crazy. This isn't about making all information public domain you nut.

Here is Swartz's manifesto about what he thinks he's entitled to:
http://archive.org/stream/GuerillaOpenAccessManifesto/Goamjuly2008_djvu.txt

Now, I have no problem if Swartz felt the best way to prove his point was to make his information that he wrote or produced free to all. THat is his right as a producer and a writer or artist to do so. Maybe his way is better and the world will learn from his example. But that's the extent of what he should be allowed to appropriate. HIS data. NOt your data and not my data.
Lets take abit of his manifesto and apply it to what you say sounds looney and I'll admit "Yeah it sounds looney" but thats because it is looney. THe free internet crowd are looney.

Here's his manifesto in part:


"but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they
make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it's perfectly legal —
there's nothing we can do to stop them." But there is something we can, something that's
already being done: we can fight back.

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been
given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world
is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for
yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords
with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.



Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been
sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by
the publishers and sharing them with your friends.

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It's called stealing or
piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a
ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn't immoral — it's a moral imperative. Only
those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate
require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they
have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who
can make copies.

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It's time to come into the light and, in the
grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public
culture.

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with
the world. We need to take stuff that's out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need
to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific
journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open
Access.



OK, so I just said I think that all of the info of reddit users should be put online for all to see. Their credit card info their personal info. I'm just fighting for Guerilla Open Access. Not only would it not be stealing it would be a moral imperative to get your credit card info out. Why should only Amazon or Google or your bank only have access to that data?



jr565 said...

But sharing isn't immoral — it's a moral imperative. Only
those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate
require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they
have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who
can make copies.

Fuck him!It costs millions of dollars to make a product. If the company sees fit to charge for that product and you decide to steal it and give it to all your friends, you have no right to do that. YOU are the greedy one for thinking you are entitled to the diseminating of someone else's work without recompense. And this jackass thinks he has a moral imperative to make things that people are charging free.
Robin Hood may have been stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but he was still stealing.
In this case corporations are allowing access if you pay the cost to acccess. If the cost is too high, they don't force you to gain access to their info.
WHat doesnt this kid get though? If you want to see Star WARs in the movie theater you buy a ticket.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
If you don't like things like public domain, creative commons, general public licenses, BSD licenses, and other aspects of publicly owned knowledge. Please hit your Mac with a hammer (BSD Kernel). Smash your cell phone. Never access the internet. Never use mathematics. Or science. Or medicine.

I have no problem with any of it. However, a company can set the terms of the use of it's product, not the consumer. Linux may be open source but that doesn't mean that Mac OS X must be simply becasue some jackass thinks it's the moral imperative to make all things free.
That goes for music, that goes for movies, books, and pretty much anything protected by a copyright.

IF an artist, like say Paul McCartney decided he and his business partners made enough from their Beatles royalties and decided to give it all away for free and host it online and allowed free downloads. I certainly would welcome it. But only he should be allowed to make that determination. Not some doofus who thinks its a moral imparative to make all music free.
LEt the Aaron Swartz's of the world make that decision for the products or ideas THEY design not decide for others who aren't so inclined to agree.

jr565 said...

Mark wrote:
I don't advocate anything that extreme. But, it is a simple metric that the shorter the copyrights. The faster the development of mathematics, sciences, and the arts. The longer the copyright, the slower the development.

It is a fact of life. And using insulting comments with no basis in reality, like you did in your last statements, doesn't help your position. And stating that my comments for a return to the 14+14 copyright system as wanting to publish gun owner addresses or your bank accounts or whatever silly thought entered your head. Is plainly dumb.

Can you explain why a return to 14+14 copyright would be harmful to the USA?

My argument is that it would speed development of education, mathematics, sciences, etc. As demonstrated in the past.

Except I think you have a problem with things that are public knowledge versus Isolated Knowledge.
What is Public Knowledge? If you are referring to a proprietary database, the very fact that it has the word Proprietary suggestst that it is not in fact Public.
And yet it is my argument that you are assuming things should be public which are not in fact so simply becuase it's more convenient for you.

LEts take the idea of Music versus the idea of a song. Noone can own an A chord for example. But if Paul McCartney writes a song that incorporates music into a melody, that is his melody. You can build on the structure known as music wihtout making Paul McCartneys music Public Knowledge freely distributed to all. You write your own melody. You don't need to ever reference Paul McCartney EVER to still come up with your music. Therefore what is the point of making him lose copyright on his ideas after 12 years or whatever time frame you want to put on his creative content. Why should someone else get the benefit of using his song "Yesterday" if it's his song? They can write their own song, no? Music isn't ended as an idea if someone can't use his song is it? How does copyright then impact the development of music, when it comes to artists work? It doesn't. No artist MUST reference another artists work in order for art to continue.
The same is true for old databases. Or programming languages, or drugs.
Or take education. Copyright is on a specific work, not on history itself. If you write a book about the Civil War it doesn't mean that noone else can ever write a book about THe Civil War. But why shoudln't your individual thoughts on the civil war be protected from others appropriating your words in ways you didn't intend. (and i dont mean things like including a quote from your book in a bibliography of a separate work. so long as you give credit that is covered under fair use).

You whole argument about how copyright stifles innovation is bunk. You can't copyright the law of relativity. BUt if you write a book about the law of relativity, why should you not be protected by copyright for your entire life for your own work? Does the fact that you wrote that book mean noone else can write a book covering the same topic? Where then is the stifiling of innovation you are talking about?

jr565 said...

Mark you write of General Public Licenses as if all licenses MUST be General Public licenses simply because some licenses are.
Arguing the efficiency of general public licenses versus licenses that require you to buy software is a different question than whether you can force individuals or companies to adopt General Public Licenses for their work because other companies or work use General Public Licenses.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_General_Public_License

Why is Linux free and Windows not free? Because that's how the makers of Linux want it. That doesnt mean that somehow you are now entitled to Windows simply becuase Linux is free does it?
And you can go through your computing experience never touching any aspect of Windows, or MS Office or anything MS related. How did that then stifle innovation on Linux's end? If you don't want to use Photoshop you can use Gimp. Gimp is free, though you still have to abide by the terms of the license. But having Gimp be free and Photosphop not being free says nothing about degrees of innovation does it? Both exist, one as a free product and one as a product you pay for. And you either pay for it or you find an alternative.
Why should someone else or some other company be able to tell Adobe that they, after spending millions on making Photoshop can't profit from Photoshop after a set period of time? or that someone who has had nothing to do with the making of Photoshop can simply give it away to a million of his friends on a filesharing service when Photoshop wants to charge for its usage.
Having Adobe allowed to make Photoshop didn't provent Corel from making it's product or Gimp from making it's product, which all ostensibly do the same thing. And yet the copyright is on those products and not on the concept of "A program that allows you to manipulate pictures". Noone HAS to use one porgram over the other and innovation isnt stifled if Adobe gets to keep making its' product for 12+12 years.
Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse. Why should he or the company that owns Mickey Mouse lose the right to continue to use Mickey Mouse if they want to keep it in perpetuity. Noone else HAS to use Mickey Mouse if they don't want to in order for animation or childrens entertainment to continue on.

jr565 said...

If you don't like things like public domain, creative commons, general public licenses, BSD licenses, and other aspects of publicly owned knowledge. PleaseMac with a hammer (BSD Kernel). Smash your cell phone. Never access the internet. Never use mathematics. Or science. Or medicine.

I never said I don't like public domain or creative commons or publicly owned knowledge. But take pPple. A mac uses the BSD Kernel (thanks BSD) which is free. But the OS isn't free. Apple didn't HAVE to use the kernel and having used it doesnt mean that their product must now be free. A kernel is not the same as an OS. Apple determines the terms of it usage as well as what programming language to use and whether to charge or not for its OS. Not Aron Swartz and not you. And if they do charge and you don't want to pay the cost you have no right to use the OS in any way other than how Apple detemrined you should use it.
Cell phones? How has copyright stifled Cell phone creation? Does the fact that the idea for a cell phone being public knowledge meant that iphones or Androids are free? ARe they not distinct products built on a concept but unique in their own way? Should Apple be able to start making Androids simply becasue it wants to? SHould somoeone somewhere be able to use a 3d printer and sart manufacturing Androids simply because technology allows it?
Never use the internet? THe internet was built as an open platform, but if I go to my bank I ahave to enter a password. MY info is supposed to be secure. The fact that the internet itself is open shoudlnt give you access to my data, should it? It's a framework that allows people to build on it but that doenst mean that was is built is similarly free, any more than the fact that the land we stand on has roads built on top of it and houses on the roads. Just because I can drive down the street doesnt mean I can walk into your house, or appropriate your car.
Never use mathematics? How much has been built on mathematics? The idea that you somehow could copyright "mathematics" or "science' is ludicrious. But what a bout a text book on mathematics. If I wrote the DEFINITIVE text book on mathematics, why should I not be entitled to the proceeds of my text book for as long as I want to keep publishing it. Why should the Aron shit's of the world get to appropriate my work and disseminate it if I didn't give him permission to do so? Math is free, but my book isn't. And my book would not be the only means by which you could learn about math. If Aaron wants to distribute free books about mathematics to everyone he can write his own book and then put it up on a file sharing site. I wouldn't hold it against him. It's his work.
But I dont see how we should only allow him to have access to the rights to publish HIS book for 24 years beacuase someone else wants to give his book away after that or wants to publish it instead.

jr565 said...

Knowledge and interpretation of knowledge are two different things. Lets say the laws of grammar is knowledge and Elements of Style is the interpretation of knowledge. THAT'S what's being copyrighted. Now, there are almost infinite ways to learn the laws of grammar. You could go to school and learn it or you could buy any number of books on the subject or you could see a movie about it or you could scour the internet for a free web page that has the same data.
In the interest of getting "The Elements of Style" you are not simply, learning grammar. No, you are in fact getting a product that was designed and contructed by those making "Elements of Style" which is an interpretation of the Rules of Grammar as defined by STrunk and published by the publisher.They dont own a copyright on "grammar" they own a copyright on "Elements of Style" which is about grammar.
How does them having a copyright on The Elements of Style inhibit any one anywhere from either writing a separate book about grammar not called "Elements of Style" or getting the information from another source that is not the book "elements of Style".
So then, what is the point of limiting the copyright on that expression, other than to say you've sold a lot of copies of Elements of Style, now I want a cut.
So long as the author is alive I don't see why you would penalize them for continuing to want to publish THEIR OWN WORK.

jr565 said...

Or to put it ore succintly. "there are only seven main plots in all of literature". Yet how many novels were written on those basic plots.
If someone wants to learn about literature plots does taht entitle them to acces to every book every written?