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MIT Warned of a JSTOR Death Sentence Due To Swartz

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the stewards-of-knowledge-locked-safe-within-their-walls dept.

Crime 390

theodp writes "The NY Times takes a look at how MIT ensnared Aaron Swartz, but doesn't shed much light on how the incident became a Federal case with Secret Service involvement. Still, the article is interesting with its report that 'E-mails among M.I.T. officials that Tuesday in January 2011 highlight the pressures university officials felt' from JSTOR, which is generally viewed as a good guy in the incident. From the story: 'Ann J. Wolpert, the director of libraries, wrote to Ellen Finnie Duranceau, the official who was receiving JSTOR's complaints: "Has there ever been a situation similar to this when we brought in campus police? The magnitude, systematic and careful nature of the abuses could be construed as approaching criminal action. Certainly, that's how JSTOR views it."' Less than a week later, a Google search reveals, Duranceau notified the MIT community that immediate changes to JSTOR access had to be made lest the University be subjected to a JSTOR 'death sentence.' 'Because JSTOR has recently reported excessive, systematic downloading of articles at MIT,' the post warned, 'we need to add a new layer of access control. This is the only way to prevent recurrence of the abuse and therefore the only way to ensure ongoing access to this valuable resource for the MIT Community.' The post concludes, 'The incidents that prompted this change involved the use of a robot, which is prohibited by JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use. ...Continued access to JSTOR and other resources is dependent on the MIT Community complying with these policies.' Hope you enjoyed that freewheeling culture while it lasted, kids — now Everything is a Crime."theodp continues " MIT's Wolpert, who was recently named to an advisory board for JSTOR parent Ithaka, also chairs the Management Board of the MIT Press, where her reports from 2008-2010 included JSTOR Managing Director Laura Brown and MIT's Hal Abelson, adding another twist to Abelson's analysis of MIT's involvement in the Swartz tragedy."

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What is this crap? (5, Insightful)

Garridan (597129) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655161)

Seriously? Death sentence? Yes. They used the words "death sentence" but it was for their access to JSTOR, not anything to do with Swartz. This is not news, this is grasping at straws.

Re:What is this crap? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655191)

I don't know if they changed the tittle but it clearly state's the death sentence is to JSTOR.

Re:What is this crap? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655225)

I'll give GP the benefit of the doubt. That summary is a grammatical train wreck.

Re:What is this crap? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655355)

+1. Very poorly written. Tough to understand

Re:What is this crap? (4, Informative)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655703)

The only ambiguity there is 'warned', and whether it's an active or passive verb doesn't significantly alter the sense.

Maybe your parser needs upgrading. Mine handled this just fine.

Re:What is this crap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655707)

I'll give GP the benefit of the doubt. That summary is a grammatical train wreck.

Is the summary the quality of material available on JSTOR?

Re:What is this crap? (5, Interesting)

Coisiche (2000870) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655197)

Well it is news. The Swartz case has been a discussion topic here in previous articles and this provides a bit more insight into what drove it into becoming a criminal case in the first place; JSTOR pressure on MIT was probably the trigger for MIT's later actions.

Re:What is this crap? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655227)

No it doesn't, it provides no insight at all into that at all.

Those events took place long before JSTOR settled their case with Swartz and if MIT uses that as an excuse to deflect the blame they're grasping for straws.

Re:What is this crap? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655303)

Do you "bronies" realize that you are a disgrace to humanity? Your mere existence is worse than Hitler, the Soviets, Native American Genocide, and all suffering and death to come combined. Know why? Because your predecessors survived through it, and you spend your days wishing that you could have sex with a horse. How would your medieval ancestors, breaking their backs in fields just to have their towns pillaged and raped feel about you slobbering over this shit? You are literally the lowest of the low, the scum of the earth.

Re:What is this crap? (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655491)

All they needed to do is change the focus to make it into a decent FA and being a nice guy allow me to do so:

If MLK or any of the other freedom fighters of the 60s were to pull that same shit today they would have all their rights stripped away as EVERYTHING is a felony now.

Now THAT should have been the focus of TFA, Go to some occupy protest? You end up on a list of possible terrorists and if you are arrested they will pile on as many charges as it takes to make it a felony. Go to some rally and hold up a little sign? Same thing, if the PTBs decide to break it up a good portion of your rights will be stripped away. Do you know how many homeless single mothers we have because of the "zero tolerance" crap they passed in the 90s?If you get busted for pretty much anything in many states including protesting you will end up being able to get ZERO help for the rest of your life, in fact a fucking illegal will have more help than you will, you'll have pretty much zero rights and the cops will fuck with you at will for the rest of your life. "do the crime do the time" simply no longer exists as its "Do a crime do a life sentence as a second class citizen"

It was THIS kind of bullshit that killed the kid, not JSTOR or any other corp. Sure corps now have Godlike powers but those Godlike powers are granted them by a broken corrupted system that has turned into a giant revolving door with so much conflict of interest its not even funny.

Re:What is this crap? (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655519)

It sometimes feels like Les Miserables comes to life.

Re:What is this crap? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655713)

After watching Les Miserables recently I actually felt that this is the basis of our legal system. Nothing has evolved since then and we they didn't need big brother to destroy lives, now we have "the system" it's pretty much end game for any form of redemption from any past errors in life, disgusting.

Re:What is this crap? (3, Insightful)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655731)

You think this is any different now? You are aware that the FBI bugged MLK, aren't you? And that the guy who assassinated him likely had help from the Feds, don't you?

Only the names have changed.

Re:What is this crap? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655861)

"It was THIS kind of bullshit that killed the kid"

No, him killing himself did that. There are no scapegoats in suicide, sorry.

Re:What is this crap? (4, Insightful)

abirdman (557790) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655887)

Thank you sir, you are completely correct. Corps have convinced government at every level that their needs-- for protection of future profits, for protection of trade secrets, for maintaining their own security rubrics, for protecting their IP)-- make it necessary they be able to interpret and prosecute their own lines of inquiry, sanctions, and punishments against citizens. Government at every level (and on both sides of the aisle) is jumping at the chance to hand them anything they ask for, from SOPA passed in secret, to pepper spray for college protesters, to absurd prison terms for the unregenerate such as Aaron Swartz. It's shocking and unsustainable, but it's happening.

Sensationalize much? (5, Insightful)

eksith (2776419) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655207)

JSTOR acted naively, but corrected itself later. MIT acted naively and then stupidly, but realized their mistake too late. Prosecutors acted like prosecutors typically do these days (I.E. tyranically) and a vulnerable kid took the least painful way out.

Mr. Swartz turned over his hard drives with 4.8 million documents, and Jstor declined to pursue the case. But Carmen M. Ortiz, the United States attorney in Boston, decided to press on.

As in MIT didn't "ensnare" anyone. They first overreacted, but then couldn't reach the reset button before Ortiz et al took over and sent all reservations MIT may have had about pressing on and destroying his life straight to /dev/null .

The prosecutors killed Swartz. That's it. While I appreciate the details of exactly what happened within MIT, lets not divert attention away to what this story really is. This should actually be looked as a big fat spotlight being shined on our spectaular legal system that values conviction rates over actual decreased crime rates and political gain at the cost of lives.

Punishment to fit the crime (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655253)

Swartz did something wrong, for sure, he used a script to download documents. He was being rude, making the system slower for everybody else.

The DOJ reaction? Slap a 50 years sentence on him.

If that's the prosecutor's reaction, she is certainly not competent for the job she does, she should be fired and the bar association should start an investigation on her.

I think disbarment would be the proper solution. That would be the right level of punishment in her case. She demonstrated very plainly that she doesn't have the understanding of law needed to work on it professionally.

Re:Punishment to fit the crime (4, Interesting)

eksith (2776419) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655265)

Agree with this 100%. At the most a public apology for making the system slow would have been plenty from Aaron. While we're at kicking out Ortiz, the same treatment should go to Stephen Heymann.

Re:Punishment to fit the crime (4, Insightful)

coastwalker (307620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655495)

The final outcome of this story is unfortunate and appears to condemn the American Criminal Justice system more than anything else.

Aaron did not do something without consequence however. He broke a trust in a club (People on campus) and spoiled the party for the members of that club. Free access had been granted to members of the club and his actions took that away. The club members are not trusted anymore and have to go through authentication to get at the data now because of his actions.

When you look around at society most of the petty unpleasantness of it all happens because someone was greedy, stupid or criminal. It is a shame that Aaron contributed to this slow slide into the straightjacket, whatever the justification.

Wow, nice lying (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655307)

He wasn't sentenced (or even found guilty yet) and the claim wasn't for 50 years. But hey, facts happen to other people right?

The moment you start spouting nonsense like this, the rest of your opinion is automatically suspect as well. After all, if you don't know the facts, how can you form an accurate opinion?

Cases like this get very emotional but if you ever want to change anything, you need to argue with facts, not with made up stuff. Liars like mangu just make it easier for people on the other side to dismiss the opposition as being ill-informed morons whose rants have no value.

OK, 35 years, then... (4, Informative)

mangu (126918) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655327)

Sorry, I remembered wrong, it wasn't 50 years, just 35 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million. [justice.gov]

Do you feel better now? Is 35 years in prison plus a $1 million fine the correct punishment for using a script to download documents?

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (0, Troll)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655363)

We have an adversarial legal system: the prosecutor throws what he can get away with at the defendant, the defense attorney tries to defend against it, and the judge and the jury make a decision. If the prosecutor overreaches, the case will collapse very quickly.

(I can't quite tell: are you simply not familiar with how the US legal system works, or are you deliberately misrepresenting it?)

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (5, Insightful)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655393)

(I can't quite tell: are you simply not familiar with how the US legal system works, or are you deliberately misrepresenting it?)

mangu is pointing out the fact that it doesn't seem to be a very good system.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655727)

(I can't quite tell: are you simply not familiar with how the US legal system works, or are you deliberately misrepresenting it?)

mangu is pointing out the fact that it doesn't seem to be a very good system.

The system seems to be very good in the sense that it is very effective: The system successfully prevented any future crimes by Mr Schwartz. Surely preventing crime is the hallmark of a successfull justice system.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655909)

The system would be pretty damn effective if we cut off the hands of those who steal... that doesn't justify being inhumane.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655841)

I believe you meant "opinion". I see no facts to support mangu's statement.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655413)

We have an adversarial legal system: the prosecutor throws what he can get away with at the defendant, the defense attorney tries to defend against it, and the judge and the jury make a decision. If the prosecutor overreaches, the case will collapse very quickly.

You are basically right in what you write, except...

Even in your adversarial system, there is neither a reason nor an expectation that the prosecutor should initially be making what were basically frivolous claims that go beyond all sane reason. Sure enough a prosecutor will initially often enough be asking for more than is strictly warranted, but 35 years for using a script to download some files that were intentionally freely accessible within the uni network? That is like asking for the death penalty in a case where someone slapped someone else during a barroom brawl, or something like that. That woman needs a healthy dose of "welcome to reality". Which, in the opinion of many fine and upstanding citizens, she could best get while spending quality time at home after being relieved of a job that is apparently beyond her professional and personal level of competence.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (4, Informative)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655533)

Even in your adversarial system, there is neither a reason nor an expectation that the prosecutor should initially be making what were basically frivolous claims that go beyond all sane reason.

The reason the prosecutor can make those charges is because that's the law. I agree that the law is too strict, but you can't blame the prosecutor for that.

Furthermore, the prosecutor can't just go out and charge whoever he likes, he needs to convince a grand jury that the charges are reasonable. That means a majority of about 20 regular people have to agree that the person should get charged.

Sure enough a prosecutor will initially often enough be asking for more than is strictly warranted, but 35 years for using a script to download some files that were intentionally freely accessible within the uni network?

(1) Swartz was not a student at the university; he broke in and physically hacked into their network.

(2) The files were not "freely accessible"; they were available only under license, and Swartz repeatedly circumvented attempts to kick him off the network. Also, it was likely Swartz's intent to redistribute them.

(3) 35 years is the theoretical maximum when you total up all the charges with maximum penalties. He would likely have faced a few years in prison if found guilty of all charges, about the same as in many European countries.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (4, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655617)

(3) 35 years is the theoretical maximum when you total up all the charges with maximum penalties. He would likely have faced a few years in prison if found guilty of all charges, about the same as in many European countries.

But he could get 35 years in prison, especially if the judge wanted to make an example of him, which happens more than you would believe. The fact that he could get this ridiculously draconian sentence, which is more than the maximum time permitted for anyone to serve for any crime in many countries, is enough to show how rotten US justice system is.

Furthermore the fact that the prosecutor can throw the whole book on him and charge him of everything he can think about does not mean she is forced to do so. That is the problem with your "adversarial legal system". Prosecutors go out of their way to intimidate and force people into deals, regardless of their culpability, and many many people take those deals forfeiting their right to defend themselves because of the chance of draconian penalties if they do not.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655725)

I wish I had mod points. +1 insightful.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655791)

And which legal system do you think works better and is more responsive to citizens?

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655911)

If by "responsive to citizens" you mean a system that has more incarcerated people than China, Iran and North Korea all put together, certainly none other than US.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655453)

You forgot the bit that comes before the trial, where the prosecutor makes terrifying threats in an effort to intimidate the suspect into a guilty plea in the hope of leniency, regardless of actual guilt or likely outcome if it had gone to trial.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655503)

That is terrorism. Literally.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655523)

You forgot the bit that comes before the trial, where the prosecutor makes terrifying threats in an effort to intimidate the suspect into a guilty plea in the hope of leniency, regardless of actual guilt or likely outcome if it had gone to trial.

Er, terrifying threats? Not sure how much more terrifying one can get beyond 35 years and a million-dollar fine...unless they plan on abusing the grammatical butchering of this summary and actually call for the death sentence.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (2)

sosume (680416) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655535)

I really don't understand. JSTOR is public repository, taxpayer funded. Schwartz is a tax payer. Where does the damage come from which justifies 35 years in jail?

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (3, Informative)

supercrisp (936036) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655683)

You don't get it because you're completely wrong. JSTOR is a subscription service paid for by higher ed institutions for registered students. It's not paid for for the general public. Not saying that's right or wrong, just that your description of it as "public repository" couldn't be farther from the truth.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (1, Redundant)

supercrisp (936036) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655721)

BTW, sorry for the "completely wrong" crankiness. I'm more respectful after my first cup of coffee. My rudeness was unwarranted.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (5, Insightful)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655545)

Well, let's not get into numbers far - even if Swartz would be found guilty only on one charge (and quite possibly more than one), he would still have to spend some time in prison with much more serious offenders. And, statistically speaking, his chances of acquittal were dim, to say the least. Well, OK, prisons in US are all happy gardens of bunnies-and-rainbows, and all inmates (and, more importantly, guards) are perfect gentlemen with bow ties and monocles. Staying in prison would help Swartz both physically and psychically... in some perfect fantasy world. But that's still not the point.

Quick quiz: when he gets out he is viewed by potential employers as a) a brilliant young man, who just made some wrong decisions in the past, but it's all forgiven and forgotten; or b) a felon, found guilty of several computer-related crimes? Guess which viewpoint would be prevalent? And what perspectives such future holds for him? Plus, even if he would spend not 35, but "only" 3-5 years in prison - how would he catch up with current technologies? Restore his skills and social connections? Do you want to be considered a friend of a known felon? So how many friends would he still have after this? So it's not the case of 50, 35 or even 5 years of prison - it's the case of maybe not ruined, but seriously maimed life anyway.

And "if the prosecutor overreaches, the case will collapse very quickly" - if that's true, why did 97% of accused in federal cases plead guilty in 2011? Not one case of "prosecutor overreach", right? Total transparency, responsibility and fairness all around, and every prosecutor is really afraid of his case collapsing, sure... in some perfect fantasy world.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (3, Interesting)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655645)

he would still have to spend some time in prison with much more serious offenders

That's the law. Take it up with lawmakers. Don't blame the prosecutor when the public demands stupid laws (and some of these laws are stupid). In addition, Swartz knew the law and deliberately broke it.

Quick quiz: when he gets out he is viewed by potential employers as a) a brilliant young man, who just made some wrong decisions in the past, but it's all forgiven and forgotten; or b) a felon, found guilty of several computer-related crimes? Guess which viewpoint would be prevalent?

Doesn't seem to have hurt Robert Morris. He did roughly the same thing minus the copyright infringement, got convicted, and now is a professor at MIT.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655501)

lol, not even Mitnick got a so harsh sentence

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655531)

According to Wikipedia, Mitnick took a plea.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655751)

Is 35 years in prison plus a $1 million fine the correct punishment for using a script to download documents?

Also the documents in question was journals, scientific knowledge that is usually built on top of existing public knowledge. Journals should be in public domain, attribution is the main currency of journals anyway...

I think Aaron meant to highlight that these documents should be in public domain, his legacy would be best served with releasing whole JSTOR as freely accessible, like Arxiv.

Re:OK, 35 years, then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655875)

You can kill Michael Jackson and get a lot less than that.

Re:Wow, nice lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655333)

how can you form an accurate opinion?

An accurate opinion about a subjective matter (was this right or not)? Interesting. The opinion exists whether or not you think it is 'accurate' (an opinion of someone's opinion). It might change in the future for whatever reason, but that is irrelevant.

Re:Wow, nice lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655345)

Fact: Swartz faced a prison sentence of 50 years

Re:Wow, nice lying (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655467)

No, not even the prosecutors thought that. Prosecutors told the defense that if it went to trial and he was found guilty on all counts he would be looking at 7 years.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/15/aaron-swartz-s-unbending-prosecutors-insisted-on-prison-time.html [thedailybeast.com]

Peters says the prosecution tried to further pressure him by saying the judge was pro-government and a tough sentencer. It was suggested that Swartz stood to get seven years if he lost at trial. Peters felt that any prison time at all would be excessive.

Re:Wow, nice lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655425)

SmallFurryCreature is right! People charged with huge prison sentences are happy and carefree until the moment they are convicted. And if they get found innocent, they forget about it all the next day. Well they will be bankrupted by lawyers fees but SmallFurryCreature tells me statistically these people are more likely to win the state lottery. Personally I think he's full of shit, but he sounds so sure of himself and you have to respect that.

Re:Wow, nice lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655779)

You seriously misrepresent the OP. He merely stated facts.

Re:Punishment to fit the crime (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655365)

I find your lack of familiarity with our system disturbing. It ain't justice, it just is.

Re:Punishment to fit the crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655551)

To get a promotion, prosecutors usually have to succeed in getting a conviction for a high-profile case. Swartz was that lucky chance.

Re:Punishment to fit the crime (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655621)

I disagree honestly its better for society if people like Swartz are martyred.

As another poster pointed out everything is a felony now. You probably commit felonies everyday without even being aware. If something is illegal and someone does it they should be prosecuted. If we don't want to prosecute people for doing than it should not be illegal in the first, and the law needs to get off the books. Right now we have a legal briar patch, that can be used to find a reason to mess up someones life anytime they become inconvenient. Its fundamentally out of step with the idea of a free society.

Examples like Swartz can be a catalyst for change. I propose we create a "use it or lose it" Constitutional Amendment that would apply to both federal and state criminal codes. If you can convince a judge (in the case of a bench trial) or jury that the prosecutors in whatever jurisdiction are charging you with a crime that:

  • Prosecutors knew or reasonably should have known that the same breach of law was done be others at least two times in the previous 12 years.

      The crime was not prosecuted for reasons other than lack of evidence

That should be considered a sufficient defense requiring you be found innocent of the charge and further voiding the law until the jurisdictions legislative body votes to renew or replace it. 12 years should be enough time that a single governor or president can't use it as back handed way to repeal laws s/he can't get the legislature to agree to do; but should still be an effective way to cull the criminal code of things like sodomy laws that are no longer really an issue, and other hastily enacted legislation of the day.

Re:Punishment to fit the crime (1)

reub2000 (705806) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655623)

Isn't that a failure of our lawmakers to set reasonable prison terms for crimes? The prosecutor doesn't set the maximum sentence for any crime, they just charge people with the laws written by the legislative body for their jurisdiction.

Re:Punishment to fit the crime (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655781)

You don't approve of the law, but the prosecutor is not a legislator.

He was being rude, making the system slower for everybody else.

Huh? What about the law that Swartz violated 4.8 million times?

she is certainly not competent for the job she does, she should be fired

Knee jerk

and the bar association should start an investigation on her.

You're pissed! Too mad to think straight.

I think disbarment would be the proper solution.

Everyone here should be pissed!

That would be the right level of punishment in her case. She demonstrated very plainly that she doesn't have the understanding of law needed to work on it professionally.

ROAROAROAROAROAR probably will be modded insightful on these boards.

Re:Punishment to fit the crime (1)

Threni (635302) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655893)

Has anyone explained why you have to pay for JSTOR? To deal with cataloguing the files, right? Aren't computers good at searching text? Would it cost much for universities to store the files themselves and allow text searching of the files? The files could be shared between universities so that they don't need to all store all of the files. It would make a vaguely interesting project, if it's not already available for free, to have the files shared via torrents and have some indexes of the files available. How does it make any sense in terms of encouraging people to read papers which are basically free of charge (in the sense that they're paid for ultimately by tax payers money) to have this system when you have to pay someone because they somehow control the files? Why can't they be stored in places other than just JSTOR?

Re:Punishment to fit the crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655921)

The DOJ reaction? Slap a 50 years sentence on him.

Oh, so now it's 50 years? Last week it was 30 years. Hyperbole does not help your case.

The fact is he would have had a few years and then be out. But that doesn't sound so impressive does it?

Re:Sensationalize much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655299)

As in MIT didn't "ensnare" anyone. They first overreacted, but then couldn't reach the reset button before

Except it wasnt the first time. _this is MIT culture_, look at how they threated a student with LED pendant at the airport.

Re:Sensationalize much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655421)

Aaron wasn't a student at MIT.

Re:Sensationalize much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655797)

MIT doesn't run any airports AFAIK.

Re:Sensationalize much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655455)

It's not a case of one or the other. We can do both. Article points out MIT may have themselves violated federal and state wiretapping statutes and its obvious from Wolperts e-mails she was going down on JSTOR. And BTW the title of the NY Times article was "How M.I.T. Ensnared a Hacker, Bucking a Freewheeling Culture" There you have the MIT librarian licking her lips for a criminal conviction. Fuck her.

Re:Sensationalize much? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655485)

THE PROSECUTORS DID NOT KILL ANYONE! Get that through you heads. He was a disturbed individual who took his own life. It is tragic, but not the fault of the prosecutor. If you want to blame someone other than Swartz... Stop.

Re:Sensationalize much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655583)

ERIC GRIMSON CHANCELLOR OF MIT should take the fall for this. it is known amongst mit officials that he and he alone was given the privilege to cease the investigation several times throughout. he wanted to play the wise and good and smart guy. after having profited in a big $$$$$ bucks way from his current online education scheme.

HE SHOULD BE STRIPPED OF HIS POSITION AND TITLE FOR HAVING ALLOWED SUCH A DEVASTATING OUTCOME.

It is now under investigation by Hal Abelson. yes ? but hold on! Some might believe that Hal was a close friend of Aaron.
but this is half the truth HAL'S ANALYSIS will AVOID UNDERMINING the part that may lead TO GRIMSON'S rightful expulsion. this is all a politics game within MIT so beware that Hal's analysis, HOWEVER OBJECTIVE AND FAIR will downplay
any WRONGDOING by big MIT Officials such as ERIC GRIMSON."

Re:Sensationalize much? (3, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655633)

The prosecutors killed Swartz.

I do find the difference in opinion that rises to the top of Slashdot discussions on various topics very interesting.

In this case, the overriding opinion is that the acts of the prosecutors are responsible for the death of Swartz.

However, in at least two other cases, that of Amanda Todd and Megan Meier, the overriding opinion in those Slashdot stories was that the person or people accused of bullying were not responsible for the deaths of the victims, as suicide victims usually have underlying issues.

The duality of Slashdot is very interesting, but so is how very different, very strong opinions and very opposing opinions can still rise to the surface.

MIT Warned of a JSTOR Death Sentence Due To Swartz (-1, Offtopic)

Tengku (2796367) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655271)

Timewarp - Larry Craig can flash his SENATOR CARD I'll FLASH LARRY with the GHOSTS of 3 stars off the wall he never respected. http://is.gd/tM5hgy [is.gd]

Three Felonies a Day (5, Informative)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655295)

> The decision whether to charge a defendant, and with what -- is almost entirely discretionary. ... > Hope you enjoyed that freewheeling culture while it lasted, kids — now Everything is a Crime."

Once to be charged with a crime there needed to be a criminal intent. No longer. There are so many ridiculous laws on the books now that you can't be a citizen without breaking some laws, and zealous prosecutors can pluck those laws out of obscurity to target anyone the don't like, or even just choose some unlucky sap they pick on to boost their career.

There's a good book by ex-FBI cop & criminal lawyer Dale Carson who explains these people have run out of big time criminals to prosecute, and so now the justify their existence by filling jails with poor saps who meet this criteria, or they would be laying off cops, judges and prisoners for lack of business: http://www.amazon.com/Arrest-Proof-Yourself-Ex-Cop-Reveals-Arrested/dp/1556526377 [amazon.com]

Here's a real life case where US officials made life hell for a California marine biologist for no other reason than they have big swinging dicks and they could: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20120803gw.html [japantimes.co.jp]

This has been going on for a long time. Aaron is the first person to draw it to the wider public attention: "Legions of government lawyers inundate targets with discovery demands, producing financial burdens that compel the innocent to surrender in order to survive. Silverglate, a civil liberties lawyer in Boston, chillingly demonstrates how the mad proliferation of federal criminal laws — which often are too vague to give fair notice of what behavior is proscribed or prescribed — means that "our normal daily activities expose us to potential prosecution at the whim of a government official." Such laws, which enable government zealots to accuse almost anyone of committing three felonies in a day, do not just enable government misconduct, they incite prosecutors to intimidate decent people who never had culpable intentions. And to inflict punishments without crimes. The more Americans learn about their government's abuse of criminal law for capricious bullying, the more likely they are to recoil in a libertarian direction and put Leviathan on a short leash."

Re:Three Felonies a Day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655391)

Once to be charged with a crime there needed to be a criminal intent.

So manslaughter wasn't a crime? Because by definition, there can't have been a criminal intent (otherwise it would have been murder).

Re:Three Felonies a Day (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655469)

The intent does not need to be to kill. Intending to merely cause injury but ending up killing someone would be manslaughter. Inadvertedly killing someone in the process of committing some other crime as well (called constrcutive manslaughter IIRC). Even criminal negligence resulting in death (counts as manslaughter) has criminal intent, in that it implies a conscious (and criminal) decision to neglect ones duty. So: the definition of various types of manslaughter do indeed imply criminal intent.

Mens rea (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655499)

It's called Mens rea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mens_rea [wikipedia.org]

Granted manslaughter isn't as cut and dry as premeditated murder, but I believe it would be having a state of mind of reckless indifference towards human life: http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120228041559AAE8XI3 [yahoo.com]

Re:Three Felonies a Day (1)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655907)

So manslaughter wasn't a crime? Because by definition, there can't have been a criminal intent (otherwise it would have been murder).

That's a variation on criminal negligence. There was no intent to kill, but there was intent to take insufficient care to ensure that nobody was killed. The "insufficient care" is (of course) rather tricky, but that sort of thing is why there is trial by jury for serious crimes and not just an administrative action by the prosecutor's office.

Re:Three Felonies a Day (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655415)

We do need more protection from federal government overreach. But Swartz is a lousy poster boy, because physically breaking into a network and committing massive copyright violation really is a criminal offense in many places, and it was reasonable to charge him.

Ironically, many of the people screaming bloody murder over the Swartz prosecution seem to also want to impose stronger gun control, registration requirements, etc. What do you think prosecutors are going to do with those laws?

Re:Three Felonies a Day (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655511)

Copyright violation should never be a criminal offense. It should be purely civil. Society already grants these people a monopoly for what amounts to forever, and now they want us to enforce it with our criminal justice system as well?

Re:Three Felonies a Day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655517)

So lets make up shit post? He also did pee outside. Next.

Nancy Black v. The US Government (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655539)

Nancy Black may be a better poster girl: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20120803gw.html [japantimes.co.jp] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/06/nancy-black-marine-protection_n_1189118.html [huffingtonpost.com]

Dale Carson points out there are many, many cases of this going on all the time, but it's been under the public radar. Most of these people get eaten up by the system and no one cares except their family who by then are bankrupted by the lawyers if they could afford them. Public Defenders don't have time for these so-called petty cases. No one else cares so journalists don't even consider it newsworthy. You won't even read about it. Aaron is an exception.

Swartz didn't "break into" anything (0)

mangu (126918) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655569)

Swartz is a lousy poster boy, because physically breaking into a network and committing massive copyright violation

He did nothing of the sort. If you just RTFA you would know that the only thing he did wrong was to use a script to download the papers, instead of getting them one by one.

He had the right to download those papers, he never passed them to anybody else, he did not commit copyright violation.

The only effect of his actions was that, because he downloaded a lot of documents, the system was stressed more than it would ordinarily be.

Essentially, it was like being prosecuted for clicking on too many links in a web page. Or, as his lawyer put it, for checking out too many books from a library. He did nothing he didn't have the right to do, only he did it more often than was expected.

Re:Swartz didn't "break into" anything (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655637)

If you don't think Swartz broke into anything, you clearly have no clue about the facts of this case. It's already been proven that he broke into a closet while on campus at Harvard to access the MIT network. He was thinking like he was Neo, hacking into his own personal Matrix.

Only we live in the real world, and idiots like him are punished here.

Re:Swartz didn't "break into" anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655661)

He had the right to download those papers, he never passed them to anybody else, he did not commit copyright violation.

So why did he return the files to JSTOR instead of telling them to pound sand?

Re:Swartz didn't "break into" anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655717)

So that as it's said in Sicily, it didn't look like an accident?

Re:Three Felonies a Day (2)

Stolpskott (2422670) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655593)

We do need more protection from federal government overreach. But Swartz is a lousy poster boy, because physically breaking into a network and committing massive copyright violation really is a criminal offense in many places, and it was reasonable to charge him.

Whether or not he should be prosecuted is one thing, but for (presumably) one count of Breaking & Entering, and multiple counts of Copyright Violation, the circus that grew up around Swartz before the state dropped those original charges was disproportionate.
As for the punishment, Massachusetts State Law on the subject of Breaking & Entering with intent to commit a felony (what he was originally charged with) has this to say:
"Section 16. Whoever, in the night time, breaks and enters a building, ship, vessel or vehicle, with intent to commit a felony, or who attempts to or does break, burn, blow up or otherwise injures or destroys a safe, vault or other depository of money, bonds or other valuables in any building, vehicle or place, with intent to commit a larceny or felony, whether he succeeds or fails in the perpetration of such larceny or felony, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than twenty years or in a jail or house of correction for not more than two and one-half years."

That in itself raises questions - Swartz's intention was to commit Copyright Violation, which in itself is only a felony under certain circumstances - Copyright infringement is a felony only if the infringement involved reproduction or distribution of at least 10 copies of copyrighted works worth more than $2,500 in a 180-day period, or involved distribution of a "work being prepared for commercial distribution" over a publicly-accessible computer network. As we are talking about much more than 10 articles, where access to the articles is free under restricted circumstances, which were downloaded over a period of a few weeks, a felony charge is not beyond the bounds of possibility with a penalty of 20 years in State Prison, or a Correction Facility for 2.5 years. However, that charge was dropped in early 2012.
Carmen Ortiz et al then opened a case based on Wire Fraud, Computer Fraud, unlawfully obtaining information, and reckless damage. Effectively, this was to be a prosecution under 18 USC 1343 - Fraud by wire, radio, or television, and 18 U.S.C. 1030 - Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Both of those pieces of legislation are so vaguely worded that their use as legislative statues cannot easily be established by reading the Acts themselves, so a body of case law needs to be built up to establish the actual meaning of the wording of the Acts. In the case of 18 USC 1343, the law has been on the books since the 1950's, so there is a substantial (but not entirely consistent) body of case law to define its scope. In the case of CFAA, the body of case law is still being formed so the result is probably a crapshoot, with the prosecutors hoping to use Swartz's violation of the JSTOR ToS as grounds for prosecution... which brings me to the question of the day - when was the last time anyone (apart from me) read through the ToS for a web site or the EULA for a piece of software to see what it did or did not allow, and whether your intended use would violate those ToS, thus making you potentially liable for prosecution under the CFAA?

Sorry for raising what might be a Straw Man, but I tend to assume that if you give someone in power a weapon, they will at some point find a way to use it in a way that is more in their own interest than the peoples' interest. Call me a cynic...

Re:Three Felonies a Day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655693)

Yes, there are plenty of laws on the books for putting people away. But is it right? Governments have incredible power over the public, and that means government workers have incredible power over the public. They have a moral obligation to exercise it responsibly and not to abuse that power. Silverglate gives cases where they decide they want to get someone, and just sit there going through ambiguous laws until they find one that can stick or the target runs out of money and takes a plea. They can get your for obscure laws you've never heard of, and when they do no one besides your family will give a fuck. Happens all the time.

Carson: "The founders of our republic understood even before strong governments existed that the power of the state to prosecute and punish was overwhelming. Their first act after adopting the Constitution was to amend it to increase the rights and protections of individuals."

We have lost that balance. There is no check on that power. Look at the Nancy Black case. You would think the NOAA officials doing this would say "Hey! We've been real dicks. Maybe we should stop and do something useful with taxpayers money instead of making this woman's life hell?"

Re:Three Felonies a Day (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655489)

The problem is not that they can. As they can target everyone, they could pick specifically the people that causes them trouble (and maybe pick others to not be so obvious). Or maybe not the visible leaders, that maybe could have cash enough in a way or another for a good defense, but the followers (or take their houses [bloomberg.com] anyway).

MIT STUDENTS SHOULD PROTEST THIS WAY (4, Interesting)

Sir Foxx (755504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655347)

Every student at MIT should download and article from JSTOR and post it online. Everyone. Let's see the system deal with that.

Re:MIT STUDENTS SHOULD PROTEST THIS WAY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655537)

Every student at MIT should download and article from JSTOR and post it online. Everyone. Let's see the system deal with that.

The "system" will deal with it just fine....because the "system" will simply shut the fucking power off.

Perhaps you'd care to suggest an alternate ending other than the prescribed "death sentence".

http://orgchart.mit.edu/director-libraries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655395)

Ann J. Wolpert, the MIT director of libraries, wrote to Ellen Finnie Duranceau, the official who was receiving Jstor’s complaints: “Has there ever been a situation similar to this when we brought in campus police? The magnitude, systematic and careful nature of the abuses could be construed as approaching criminal action. Certainly, that’s how Jstor views it."

So tired of all this. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655401)

The more details that come out the less sympathy I have for the legal troubles Swartz found himself in. He was smart enough to know going into this that there would be legal repercussions. It's possible he even ran his plan by Lessig, with Lessig explaining that it was wrong and he shouldn't do it. Barreling ahead anyways, he only decided not to do it at Harvard.

Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655563)

Did he deserve to die, or are you happy with 50 years jail? You better hope I'm not on your jury if you're ever busted for J-walking.

Re:Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655635)

Did he deserve to die, or are you happy with 50 years jail?

What do those questions have to do with the GP's post?

Re:Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655659)

50 years? Why are we just arbitrarily adding on to the theoretical maximum sentence of 35 years? What rules of rounding state that 35 -> 50 is reasonable? Further, entencing guidelines would call for 6-24 months incarceration. In a minimum-security facility.

So don't act as if his life had become worthless. And you're blaming his death on others? If 6 months (which was offered in a plea bargain) is simply too much for you to bear, you don't have the guts needed to be an activist.

ERIC GRIMSON IS TO BE BLAMED (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655451)

(* This comment has been deleted because it contains the bitter truth. If YOU DELETE THIS COMMENT U SHOULD R ONLY AS GOOD AS THE REST THAT TRY TO UNDERMINE THE TRUTH OF THIS DELICATE SITUATION*)

ERIC GRIMSON CHANCELLOR OF MIT should take the fall for this. it is known amongst mit officials that he and he alone was given the privilege to cease the investigation several times throughout. he wanted to play the wise and good and smart guy. after having profited in a big $$$$$ bucks way from his current online education scheme.

HE SHOULD BE STRIPPED OF HIS POSITION AND TITLE FOR HAVING ALLOWED SUCH A DEVASTATING OUTCOME.

It is now under investigation by Hal Abelson. yes ? but hold on! Some might believe that Hal was a close friend of Aaron.
but this is half the truth HAL'S ANALYSIS will AVOID UNDERMINING the part that may lead TO GRIMSON'S rightful expulsion. this is all a politics game within MIT so beware that Hal's analysis, HOWEVER OBJECTIVE AND FAIR will downplay
any WRONGDOING by big MIT Officials such as ERIC GRIMSON.

Viewed as a good guy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655477)

By using the phrase 'viewed as a good guy', it invites you to show the opposite: there are reasons not to consider them a good guy, and the automatic conclusion from the mechanism of the trope becomes: they are not good guys so they must be bad guys.

To the contrary, I have not seen anyone try to paint JSTOR as 'the good guys'. I have seem them painted as 'the neutral guys' or 'the guys doing what they should and can be expected to as reasonable under the circumstances'.

Seriously, over the last couple of years it's like people who love to abuse language have crawled out of the woodwork absolutely everywhere. If you enjoy twisting messages and carefully composing phrases to convey particular emotions and do that to influence politics, then please just fuck off and die. You are a terrible person and society would work better without you.

Stephen Heymann is the real problem (5, Interesting)

andydread (758754) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655527)

The problem here is Stephen Heymann. He is the real zealous procsecutor here

He has been on a crusade for years for "computer crime" juicy publicty [huffingtonpost.com]

I remember about a week or so ago Anonymous leaked some long diatribe written by Stephen Heymann about lowering the bar on what defines computer crimes etc. I can't find it now. This guy is on a crusade to make a name for himlself.

You trust this guy? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655799)

Mod parent useful. Stephen Heymann sounds like a nutbag and that all he gives a shit about is prosecuting people. Worry about finding a name for the crime later.

> During another investigation in the 1990s, Heymann wanted Harvard to place a electronic banner on its intranet telling users they were being monitored, as Network World reported. He said would allow the feds to monitor the network without getting a court order. Harvard disagreed, saying it respected the privacy of its users. According to his Harvard biography, Heymann is responsible for supervising approximately 80 criminal prosecutors and reviewing the majority of approximately 400 indictments returned and informations filed annually.

Anyone trust this nutbag with your liberties? He has done it before too: Aaron Swartz prosecutor 'drove another hacker to suicide in 2008 after he named him in a cyber crime case. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2262831/Revealed-Aaron-Swartz-prosecutor-drove-hacker-suicide-2008-named-cyber-crime-case.html#ixzz2IhxDiQLD [dailymail.co.uk]

The Bitter Truth of Hal Abelson's Analysis (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655567)

will avoid showing the actual culprits.

ERIC GRIMSON CHANCELLOR OF MIT should take the fall for this. it is known amongst mit officials that he and he alone was given the privilege to cease the investigation several times throughout. he wanted to play the wise and good and smart guy. after having profited in a big $$$$$ bucks way from his current online education scheme.

HE SHOULD BE STRIPPED OF HIS POSITION AND TITLE FOR HAVING ALLOWED SUCH A DEVASTATING OUTCOME.

It is now under investigation by Hal Abelson. yes ? but hold on! Some might believe that Hal was a close friend of Aaron.
but this is half the truth HAL'S ANALYSIS will AVOID UNDERMINING the part that may lead TO GRIMSON'S rightful expulsion. this is all a politics game within MIT so beware that Hal's analysis, HOWEVER OBJECTIVE AND FAIR will downplay
any WRONGDOING by big MIT Officials such as ERIC GRIMSON."

I just have one small question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655571)

Who or what the fuck is a JSTOR? Would it kill the summary writer to explain the acronym?

Re:I just have one small question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655605)

Well once upon a time the universities got sick at being ripped off for journal access by academic publishers and wanted information to be free and so made their own journal database and called it JSTOR. And then they got greedy. JSTOR is technically not-for-profit - like a charity - which explains why they wanted Schwartz imprisoned for making information free.

Re:I just have one small question (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655777)

I've heard this complaint before that JSTOR is greedy. Can anyone put some numbers to this? In one article I saw it said that MIT paid $50k a year for access to JSTOR. $50k from an institution like MIT? That to me seems like nothing.

Ever heard of Google, Wikipedia, and typing a URL? (4, Informative)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655631)

Who or what the fuck is a JSTOR? Would it kill the summary writer to explain the acronym?

Most people know what it is, because of the Swartz-case. So you missed it - fine - but rambling about it on a geek-site like /. is hardly the way to go.

Have you tried Googling it?
https://www.google.com/search?q=JSTOR [google.com]

have you tried looking it up on Wikipedia?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JSTOR [wikipedia.org]

Have you tried simply visiting their homepage - perhaps even their "about" page?
http://about.jstor.org/ [jstor.org]

Was that so hard? Really?

Seriously ... as a reader and poster here ... you have failed! :-)

- Jesper

Re:I just have one small question (1)

pseudofrog (570061) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655667)

Google is hard :(

MIT coudl replace JSTOR. (2)

couchslug (175151) | about a year and a half ago | (#42655763)

With their resources, MIT could do the same thing in-house instead of outsourcing.

MIT is a wealthy institution and could afford to free considerable information without being adversarial. The solution isn't "lone rebels freeing the info", but using massive resources to break it loose instead.

OK, wait, What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655831)

So this guy is being fined for downloading papers from MIT? Isn't that kind of what schools are for- reading, research, sharing knowledge and such. Or have they become a classified nuclear facility, and nobody let the rest of us know.

The only good guy in this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42655931)

just killed himself. Nice going.

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