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Gabriel Faust's avatar

Original Gaian

Yes Sequitur
That was like, jan 16-17
Why did you necro a thread from jan 19th?
That was like, jan 16-17
Exumer is Hardcore's avatar

Lonely Gekko

So what's your technical issue?
God Emperor Akhenaton
Let me first say this. I think these charges were extreme. However, illegal downloading is not a victimless crime. When you pay for an item, any item, most of that value goes to labor. Think of it this way, raw materials are quite cheap, but a 747 is very expensive. That is because you are paying for their labor. It's called the labor theory of value. Now I get the argument that the documents were not physical material, but the documents contained the work of someone else. Plus it's a bad argument because if you copy someone else's work, it's plagiarism. Another issue with that is that this wasn't Metallica that they stole from. These were documents made by experts whom at the very least had to go through 6 years just to form their very first thesis. These are people who deserve to get paid for what they wrote.
I think you misunderstand the purpose of JSTOR and the nature of the documents in question.

These documents are the product of scientific research; research that was funded by public monies. That is, the documents Aaron "stole" were already paid for by the American public (through Federal grants, primarily), and as such are, by law Public Domain.

United States law requires that any documents produced by public funds (that is, anything produced by the Federal government or research funded by Federal grants) automatically enter the Public Domain and are not eligible for Copyright. All of the documents stored by JSTOR are in this category.

JSTOR exists as a way to preserve and disseminate that information.

The problem is that JSTOR, which contains publicly-funded and Public Domain scientific work, is only freely accessible by students and visitors to MIT's campus. Outside the campus, it was blocked by a so-called "paywall." Aaron and others like him felt that this was an injustice to the Public, because this work that is Public Domain was largely inaccessible to the very Public that has already paid for it. (This has evidently changed somewhat, as I see you can now register and read over 1200 of these many thousands of Public Domain journal articles for free.)

Because MIT's publicly-accessible campus network allowed unfettered access to JSTOR, Aaron simply took advantage of that to "liberate" these documents himself, since MIT and the JSTOR project were, at the time, clearly unwilling to do that themselves.

You must understand that what Aaron did is neither a crime, nor was it morally wrong. The unequivocal fact is that the documents are supposed to be freely accessible to all, by policy and law. If there is any crime, it is that JSTOR is limiting the Public's access and that the US Prosecutor tried to lampoon Aaron for a "crime" that has no basis in law. Moreover, the only "victims" here are the general Public, who are not allowed to see the results of research they paid for; the Scientific Community, who are lessened by the limited scope of review that scientific research requires; and Aaron himself, who was accused of an act that was not illegal and for which there is no justification for punishment.

The authors of this work have been paid already. They were paid by way of the Federal grants that funded their work. We, the Public, deserve to see the results of that work.

And before you suggest that releasing these documents somehow denies those scientists additional funds, I will point out that not one penny from JSTOR or any scholarly journal does or has ever been paid to any scientists. These journals charge for access to their articles, but also charge the scientists for the privilege of being published; and they charge the peer reviewers, who are supposed to validate the research in these articles, for the privilege of being a peer reviewer. These publications do not pay for research. They are the end-product of that already paid-for research.

Science is not benefited by hiding research, anyway. Science can only benefit by the free and open nature of collaboration and education.

Would you rather that no one could see the results of the labor of these scientists?
Gabriel Faust's avatar

Original Gaian

God Emperor Akhenaton
Let me first say this. I think these charges were extreme. However, illegal downloading is not a victimless crime. When you pay for an item, any item, most of that value goes to labor. Think of it this way, raw materials are quite cheap, but a 747 is very expensive. That is because you are paying for their labor. It's called the labor theory of value. Now I get the argument that the documents were not physical material, but the documents contained the work of someone else. Plus it's a bad argument because if you copy someone else's work, it's plagiarism. Another issue with that is that this wasn't Metallica that they stole from. These were documents made by experts whom at the very least had to go through 6 years just to form their very first thesis. These are people who deserve to get paid for what they wrote.
This is a similar but different issue than what you mention; JSTOR is an archive you usually need an institute login to access the full published papers, it charges extreme amounts of money for downloading documents that should have entered public domain or on par with common knowledge education (eg; how to cut a cake fairly, 1961, lessons on division, 12$ download, free online reading).

These people have been paid fairly for what they wrote by the board, the journals they publish to, the institutions that fund their research, and the benefits of the world they enrich. JSTOR often times provides free summaries or access to the article online, so it isn't as if the initial creator of the medium is getting scammed out of a pair of 6$ pizzas by the downloading.

JSTOR even has a short blurb about Aaron Swartz in the about.jstor.org frontpage.
Let me first say this. I think these charges were extreme. However, illegal downloading is not a victimless crime. When you pay for an item, any item, most of that value goes to labor. Think of it this way, raw materials are quite cheap, but a 747 is very expensive. That is because you are paying for their labor. It's called the labor theory of value. Now I get the argument that the documents were not physical material, but the documents contained the work of someone else. Plus it's a bad argument because if you copy someone else's work, it's plagiarism. Another issue with that is that this wasn't Metallica that they stole from. These were documents made by experts whom at the very least had to go through 6 years just to form their very first thesis. These are people who deserve to get paid for what they wrote.
Grand Complications's avatar

Distinct Dabbler

Gabriel Faust
Je Nique vos Merdiers
I just read the rules, and no it's not, actually.

From the rules and guidelines thread:
The Admin
Commonly Misplaced Threads
The following types of threads are commonly misplaced:

Questions About Gaia Features
- Please use the Questions & Assistance forum instead.

Video Game Discussion
- Please use the Video Game Discussion forum instead.

Discussions of a Technical Nature
- Please use the C&T Tech Talk forum instead.


Discussions of a Scientific Nature
- Please use the Science & Technology forum instead.

Computers and Technology is a forum for:

    Computers & Technology
    Electronics issues? Computer problems? Resolve them here!

Tech Talk is for:

    C&T Tech-Talk Hardware or software, appliances or discoveries, talk about anything hi-tech in here.

Please note that the latter covers discussion matters.



On topic: this thread is heavily biased by the view of the poster, and credits Aaron in creation of Creative Commons.
Wiki article: Creative Commons
The organization was founded in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig, Hal Abelson, and Eric Eldred[3]

This thread also attributes Aaron Swartz to creating/starting Reddit, of which is also false.
Wiki article: Aaron Swartz
In the early days of Reddit, Swartz's Infogami and Reddit merged^
^Swartz is regularly attributed as a co-founder of Reddit, but the title is the source of controversy. After the merger of Infogami and Reddit, Swartz was an equal owner of parent company Not a Bug, Inc. along with Reddit co-founders Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. Swartz was referred to as "co-founder" in the press, by investor/advisor Paul Graham (who recommended the merger), and in early comments by Ohanian [110
].I said he helped develop these things, not that he did all of this by himself.
Gabriel Faust's avatar

Original Gaian

Je Nique vos Merdiers
I just read the rules, and no it's not, actually.

From the rules and guidelines thread:
The Admin
Commonly Misplaced Threads
The following types of threads are commonly misplaced:

Questions About Gaia Features
- Please use the Questions & Assistance forum instead.

Video Game Discussion
- Please use the Video Game Discussion forum instead.

Discussions of a Technical Nature
- Please use the C&T Tech Talk forum instead.


Discussions of a Scientific Nature
- Please use the Science & Technology forum instead.

Computers and Technology is a forum for:

    Computers & Technology
    Electronics issues? Computer problems? Resolve them here!

Tech Talk is for:

    C&T Tech-Talk Hardware or software, appliances or discoveries, talk about anything hi-tech in here.

Please note that the latter covers discussion matters.



On topic: this thread is heavily biased by the view of the poster, and credits Aaron in creation of Creative Commons.
Wiki article: Creative Commons
The organization was founded in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig, Hal Abelson, and Eric Eldred[3]

This thread also attributes Aaron Swartz to creating/starting Reddit, of which is also false.
Wiki article: Aaron Swartz
In the early days of Reddit, Swartz's Infogami and Reddit merged^
^Swartz is regularly attributed as a co-founder of Reddit, but the title is the source of controversy. After the merger of Infogami and Reddit, Swartz was an equal owner of parent company Not a Bug, Inc. along with Reddit co-founders Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. Swartz was referred to as "co-founder" in the press, by investor/advisor Paul Graham (who recommended the merger), and in early comments by Ohanian [110
].
Sen Natsu
Grand Complications
Sen Natsu
This is the computer repair section. Do you have a computer you need repaired?
Sorry you're so boring, I guess.
Dude, it's the rules. I'm trying to tell you before a mod does.

I just read the rules, and no it's not, actually.
Grand Complications's avatar

Distinct Dabbler

Lanackse-Kanvae
Grand Complications
Sen Natsu
This is the computer repair section. Do you have a computer you need repaired?
Sorry you're so boring, I guess.


A mod wouldn't necessarily as much tell you as warn or ban you. I don't know if warnings are permanent or they have a shelf life but get enough warnings and it's a temp ban. Enough temp bans nets a permanent ban.

Sassing someone who's trying to help you doesn't make your case look any better (if I was a mod looking at this, I'd be levering a slightly harsher punishment than usual for this offence but that may just be me). Ignorance is never an excuse either before you even try that one.
If a mod would like to move or delete the topic, that's fine. I saw a forum and a subforum about computers, so I posted it in one of them.
Lanackse-Kanvae's avatar

Perfect Lunatic

11,100 Points
  • Dressed Up 200
  • Forum Regular 100
  • Elocutionist 200
Grand Complications
Sen Natsu
This is the computer repair section. Do you have a computer you need repaired?
Sorry you're so boring, I guess.


A mod wouldn't necessarily as much tell you as warn or ban you. I don't know if warnings are permanent or they have a shelf life but get enough warnings and it's a temp ban. Enough temp bans nets a permanent ban.

Sassing someone who's trying to help you doesn't make your case look any better (if I was a mod looking at this, I'd be levering a slightly harsher punishment than usual for this offence but that may just be me). Ignorance is never an excuse either before you even try that one.
Grand Complications
Sen Natsu
This is the computer repair section. Do you have a computer you need repaired?
Sorry you're so boring, I guess.
Dude, it's the rules. I'm trying to tell you before a mod does.
Grand Complications's avatar

Distinct Dabbler

Sen Natsu
This is the computer repair section. Do you have a computer you need repaired?
Sorry you're so boring, I guess.
This is the computer repair section. Do you have a computer you need repaired?
Grand Complications's avatar

Distinct Dabbler

Aaron Swartz is a man you probably owe a lot to without ever realizing. He helped set the RSS standard, which you've probably used if you've ever subscribed to a website. He helped develop Reddit, Creative Commons, and Demand Progress.

However, the US government was after him because he downloaded some academic articles from the JSTOR archive illegally, which charges absurd prices for research that often uses public funding. JSTOR dropped the case, but MIT (where he accessed the archive) was not so quick to do so. The government was intent to make an example of him for previous stunts that were perfectly legal. With mounting legal fees and a massive sentence awaiting him, Swartz hung himself. He died broken financially and emotionally due to the predatory nature of America's "justice" system.

Several of his friends and colleagues have written obituaries about him on the Internet. This one is especially good. No matter what your view on his actions, this young man contributed more to the world in his short life than most of us will in triple the time. His passing deserves to be mourned.

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