The Department of Justice’s long and often overreaching arm is again in the news as Wired reports that the prosecution intended to use Aaron Swartz’s own manifesto against him. As with the cases against Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds, the DOJ would rather pursue cases against celebrities and individuals who have harmed no one rather than pursue the real criminals on Wallstreet who buy and sell the People’s futures every day and are responsible for the worst economic disaster in recent history.
Aaron Swartz was a young iconoclast and free information advocate. He was regularly in trouble with the Federal government for alleged violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – an overreaching and intimidating law in itself – for breaching copyright and infringing terms of service agreements with publishers.
Before the controversy surrounding his trial, Aaron was known as one that helped develop the Creative Commons licensing structure and was part of the team that sold Reddit and authored a manifesto on the release and distribution of copyrighted material, an excerpt of which is below.
“There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand
tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.
We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world…”
The DOJ needs to refocus its efforts away from the individuals that are working for the better of all, like Aaron, and back on those who are pillaging our culture for their private gain, like Wallstreet. The cost for not doing so is too heavy to bear.