Rogue Downloader Prosecuted; Rogue Banks Off the Hook

As a researcher, I can breathe safely posting my papers online, knowing that the federal government will do its best to stop anyone from downloading them in a way that violates a website’s terms of use. According to Wired,

Federal prosectors added nine new felony counts against well-known coder and activist Aaron Swartz, who was charged last year for allegedly breaching hacking laws by downloading millions of academic articles from a subscription database via an open connection at MIT.
Swartz, the 25-year-old executive director of Demand Progress, has a history of downloading massive data sets, both to use in research and to release public domain documents from behind paywalls. He surrendered in July 2011, remains free on bond and faces dozens of years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted.

Thank goodness, because without the royalty checks from my articles, I’m not sure how I would be able to keep myself afloat.
I am also grateful that federal prosecutors have had the time they need to concentrate on important cases like these, instead of wasting time on small fry like Goldman Sachs.

6 Replies to “Rogue Downloader Prosecuted; Rogue Banks Off the Hook”

  1. Wait, let me get this straight… you’re paying the rent with royalty checks from your published papers?!?
    You should be using your cut of the merchandise and ad money instead. You did negotiate that in your contract with the journals, right?

  2. Don’t give a pass to Swartz because of government’s ineptness. I routinely wonder you, me, or anyone spends time moralizing about, say, the misdeeds of Wall Street when virtually all of it amounts to protected free speech i.e. a pretty low threshold in the US. Why do we entreat them to improve? Why don’t we just prosecute? Instead we fine with requiring one to admit guilt. We fine with no criminal charges. Indeed, the USA could be using its resources to far greater effect than it is now.

    1. The problem is that I’m not allowed to prosecute the banks myself. I can only do so via the DoJ, the SEC, and so on, and if I don’t like what they’re doing, then I can only change that by complaining via my blog, or donating hundreds of millions of dollars to both parties.

        1. And he’s welcome to get thrown out of court for not having standing. I find the structural setup of our court system immensely fascinating.

          1. Of course it is a good question why Morgan Stanley doesn’t sue Goldman Sachs. I’m not sure about that one. I tried googling for this, and found instead this article that argues that in general private lawsuits are a way for Congress to enforce laws that the executive branch may not want to enforce.
            Here though, a lot of what the government should go after the banks for are criminal, not civil. Interestingly, you could have said the same thing about Swartz: why not just let JSTOR sue him?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *