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SOPA activist Aaron Swartz has died

Saturday, 12th January 2013 20:57 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Aaron Swartz, programmer and Internet activist who helped scrap the Stop Online Piracy Act bill from passing in Congress through his Demand Progress group, has died.

Reuters reports Swartz died of “an apparent suicide,” on Friday, January 11.

According to the office of New York City’s Chief Medical Examiner, Swartz was found hanging in his Brooklyn apartment.

Reports state he had a history of depression, and for the last two years had been fighting federal hacking charges brought on by prosecutor Scott Garland of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s Office. Swartz has been charged with four counts of felony misconduct, charges which many experts on the matter felt were “outrageous.”

His charges steamed from downloading academic journal articles from the online database JSTOR for students and researchers. Swartz was allowed access to these as a faculty member at Harvard University.

Swartz downloaded the documents over few weeks from a library at MIT, when he found a “door” of sorts which allowed him to download more than the daily allotment. JSTOR’s servers were shut down briefly over the number of documents being downloaded at a time, which caused MIT’s library to be being blocked by JSTOR “for a few days.”

While JSTOR and MIT agreed his actions were a breach of the Terms of Service agreement, neither wished to press civil or criminal charges against Swartz for his actions.

Garland’s argument was that Swartz committed a federal crime and stood to “gain financially” from the free files.

“Aaron Swartz devised a scheme to defraud JSTOR of a substantial number of journal articles which they had invested in collecting, obtaining the rights to distribute and digitizing,” the indictment read. “He sought to defraud MIT and JSTOR of rights and property.”

The Huffington Post has more on the charges brought against Swartz, and you should give it a read when you have a moment.

Swartz co-authored RSS 1.0 and founded Infogami which was later merged with Reddit.

VG247 offers our sincerest condolences to Swartz’s family, friends, and colleagues.

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17 Comments

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  1. Mike W

    Damn

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Edo

    Sad news indeed,may he rest in peace.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. MegaGeek1

    When I read this headline all I could think to myself was “please dont be an apparent suicide, please dont be an apparent suicide, please dont be an apparent suicide.”

    I cant help but always be skeptical when promenant anti-government figures commit suicide.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Phoenixblight

    @3

    SOPA bill wasn’t made by the government it was made by industry people like Cable,Movie and Music people attempting to pass a bill. THis guy was one of many who fought against SOPA not to mention the our government found it to be too full of holes for these industry people to do what they want within the loopholes.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. MegaGeek1

    Even worse, he was fighting against big business. Multinational corporations are virtually exempt from the rule of law.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Phoenixblight

    @5

    He was one guy. He didn’t solely win against SOPA nor was he leading the charge. This is not a movie. There were plenty of other multibillion dollar companies against SOPA like Google.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. MegaGeek1

    Conspiracy! You in bed with them too.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Erthazus

    He commited suicide? Reason?

    I don’t believe this shit. Conspiracy theories here we come.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Ireland Michael

    “Planning for the future is like going fishing in a dry gulch;
    Nothing ever works out as you wanted, so give up all your schemes and ambitions.
    If you have got to think about something—
    Make it the uncertainty of the hour of your death.”
    - Gyalse Rinpoche

    #9 2 years ago
  10. deadstoned

    Rest in peace Aaron

    #10 2 years ago
  11. roadkill

    You’d have to be pretty dumb to believe this was a suicide. They’ve murdered him! US at this point in time is one of the worst countries to live in. It’s disgusting. I can’t even begin to describe how things work there. If you need to know more about this particular subject feel free to follow http://torrentfreak.com/. These guys have been covering what the movie and music industry has been doing for quite some time now. The things I’ve read… Anyway, RIP Aaron.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. mobiugearskin

    ^
    Don’t breed.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. NeoSquall

    A saddening news, RIP Aaron.

    Also, Steph, the Reuters link doesn’t work, please replace it with this.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Cobra951

    @13, thank you.

    Unfair persecution from a prosecutor in search of political capital can send a depressed individual over the edge. I have no problem believing this is a suicide, though I place some of the blame on Scott Garland.

    RIP, Aaron.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Stephany Nunneley

    @13 Thanks, I’ve switched it out.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Eddie Rodrigues

    A noble hero died… Seriously, without his help and from other activists, everything surrounding internet, or file sharing, would be lost.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. xxJPRACERxx

    I wish Dexter Morgan (I think of him right now cause I’m re-watching all episodes) would pay a little visit to Scott Garland. I hate these kind of assholes.

    #17 2 years ago