Research Blogging

Aaron Swartz: The Robbing Hood of Open Access?

Let me make it clear at the very outset that I am aware that AS is being indicted for hacking by the federal government on charges of “wire fraud, computer fraud”, etc and not for downloading too many journal articles off JSTOR (4.8 million, to be precise). Here is what the prosecution had to say:

In a statement announcing the charges, a United States attorney, Carmen M. Ortiz, said: “Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.”

The case is getting credence despite the JSTOR reaching an agreement with Swartz on not pressing charges is mainly due to the methods he employed for getting access to the files. Not being a hack geek myself, I admit, that I do not know the details of the same but apparently, they seem to be less than legal to the circling lawyers.


I am trying to read up more on the affair but as of now, my sympathy is on the side of the inventor of RSS. What is your take on this matter?


1. Webb K. The difference between Google and Aaron Swartz. MediaFile Blog, Reuters. July 21, 2011. Available from:

2. Schwartz J. Open-Access advocate is arrested for huge download. The New York Times, July 19, 2011. Available from:

Skeptic Oslerphile. PhD Student in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Past: 1) Public Health Scientist and Program Manager, Translational Global Health Policy Research Cell, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. 2) Scientist, Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases; 3) Senior Research Associate, Public Health Foundation of India. Interests include: Emerging Infections, Public Health, Antimicrobial Resistance, One Health and Zoonoses, Diarrheal Diseases, Medical Education, Medical History, Open Access, Healthcare Social Media and Health2.0. Opinions are my own!

3 comments on “Aaron Swartz: The Robbing Hood of Open Access?

  1. Pingback: Aaron Swartz Commits Suicide: The Dark Knight Falls « Scepticemia

  2. Pingback: Aaron Swartz Commits Suicide: The Dark Knight Falls « Dirty Minds

  3. Pingback: Hacking of the National Institute of Epidemiology and Musings on Hacktivism | Scepticemia

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