(I re-post this from Guernica magazine. My support for Aaron Swartz and my outrage at the government in this case is mine alone. I do not speak for my USIH colleagues in posting this [though I suspect most of them would agree]).
The virtual impunity of the rich and powerful is a widely known fact. Why continue to rub our noses in it?
By John Summers and George Scialabba
“Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data, or dollars,” said United States attorney Carmen M. Ortiz in announcing the indictment of our friend Aaron Swartz, a programmer, civil liberties activist, and Cambridge resident who is accused of breaking into a computer closet at MIT and downloading several million articles from the academic database JSTOR. “It is equally harmful to the victim, whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.”
For a statement of intellectual property law at its most simple-minded, business-friendly, and injudicious, one could not do better than Ms. Oritz’s fulmination. Aaron, who is 24 years old, faces a maximum penalty of $1 million and 35 years in prison in spite of the (uncontested) facts that the data he allegedly purloined was returned before it was released; service interruption was minimal; and neither MIT nor JSTOR has taken legal action. This is a bogus indictment over a fictitious crime. What explains it?
Politics, for one thing. The real purpose of the indictment is to terrorize advocates for open access at a time when corporations and their allies in government feel themselves under siege by hackers. … Continued here.