Internet activist Aaron Swartz's suicide reverberates through academe

Dive Summary:

  • Aaron Swartz, a computer programmer and internet activist who was a leading figure in the hacking and open access movements, committed suicide Friday, and reactions to his death and praise for his work echoed through the academic community over the weekend.
  • Speculation online pointed to Swartz's legal troubles--he was indicted in 2011 for the theft of millions of journal articles, which he wanted to make freely available, through MIT's JSTOR account--but his friends noted that he suffered from depression.
  • JSTOR announced an expansion of free access to content from 1,200 journals just days before Swartz's suicide and expressed regret Saturday for being drawn into the case from the outset, while MIT President L. Rafael Reif announced a review of MIT's actions in the case, and many scholars honored Swartz by posting their journal articles in freely available locations and Tweeting links.

From the article:

A federal grand jury in 2011 indicted Swartz for the theft of millions of journal articles through the JSTOR account of MIT. Swartz wanted to make all of those articles freely available. Authorities said that he used an MIT guest account, even though he didn't have a legal right to do so. Had Swartz lived for his trial, he faced millions of dollars in fines and decades in prison if convicted. ...

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Filed Under: Higher Ed Technology Policy & Regulation
Top image credit: Alec Perkins