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Monday, January 14, 2013

Hackers and prosecution: who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?

The recent tragic suicide of the evidently brilliant Aaron Swartz, who was being vigorously prosecuted for the 'felony' (sic) of downloading JSTOR academic articles (distributed acceptance of service?) reminds me of Mystic Mogg's editorial condemning the 1967 trial of several Rolling Stones for marijuana possession for personal use. It is equally preposterous to prosecute for sharing freely available knowledge as it is for possessing herbal relaxants.
Nevertheless, we should accept that the US government under Tricky Dicky and his successors ludicrously continues to imprison vast numbers of young (mostly black) men for such a crime. Hackers should not expect any different - politicians are like that, they love property and will do anything to protect it - and their sponsors. Perhaps legislators and litigators should be made to read 'Coding Freedom' this week, to reflect upon their actions.
Relevance to net neutrality? Regulators tell me often that it's just a ruse to protect illegal downloading without limit...yes, they would break that butterfly - with or without MIT complaisance.

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