'Could Have Done More'

Colleen Flaherty, Ignatia Webs, Jul 31, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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MIT has released a report summarizing and evaluating its actions in the wake of the Aaron Swartz case. Swartz, readers may recall, was at MIT when he attempted to download the entire JSTOR library, violating the company's terms of service. They threw the book at him, MIT went "hem, haw" and Swartz eventually committed suicide. "MIT took the position that U.S. vs. Swartz was simply a lawsuit to which it was not a party." But as MIT washes its hands the case against Swartz appears even less fair; Lawrence Lessig comments, "If indeed Aaron’s access was not 'unauthorized' — as Aaron’s team said from the start, and now MIT seems to acknowledge — then the tragedy of this prosecution has only increased." MIT claims it was neutral, but as Joi Ito says, "there are obviously plenty of contexts in which to be “neutral” is simply to be wrong."

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