Never mind that Swartz is a researcher, JSTOR makes it difficult for users to download articles to which they have rightful access and the government (your taxpayer money) pays for much of the research that ends up in journals not made available to you. Culture is anti-rivalrous as the great Nina Paley likes to point out. “Anti-rivalrous goods increase in value the more they are used.”
Aaron Swartz, a Cambridge web entrepreneur and political activist who has lobbied for the free flow of information on the Internet, was charged in federal court with hacking into a subscription-based archive system at MIT and stealing more than 4 million articles, including scientific and academic journals [while a student]. Swartz already had regular, licensed access to the database through his work at Harvard. But prosecutors said he was so committed to the immediate acquisition of materials that he used special software to enable the quick downloading. He changed the Internet protocol address on his computer several times to circumvent security guards, according to court records.
The American Prospect on this matter
It’s easy to forget that there’s something at all controversial or oppositional about accessing information, or that some people really, really want data to be free — and others don’t. Open data has been mainstreamed. Whatever hacker-culture roots the free information movement might have are subsumed by the idea that simply everyone agrees that data is meant to be free, and the struggle is over the mechanics of freeing it. That’s never really been true, as Swartz’s case makes plain.
The Huffington Post:
JSTOR’s the one that should be in prison, man, for locking up knowledge.
Note that JSTOR has no issues with Swartz and that is the government coming down on him for what they argue is felony computer hacking. Reminds me of War Games. “I mean have you gotten any insight as to why a bright boy like this would jeopardize the lives of millions?”