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Feds Add 9 Felony Charges Against Swartz For JSTOR Hack

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the seeing-what-sticks dept.

Crime 252

Last year Aaron Swartz was indicted on four felony counts for allegedly stealing millions of academic journal articles from JSTOR. Today, Federal prosecutors piled on nine additional felony charges. The charges (PDF) are mostly covered under the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and are likely to test the legislation's limits. According to Wired, "The indictment accuses Swartz of repeatedly spoofing the MAC address — an identifier that is usually static — of his computer after MIT blocked his computer based on that number. The grand jury indictment also notes that Swartz didn't provide a real e-mail address when registering on the network. Swartz also allegedly snuck an Acer laptop bought just for the downloading into a closet at MIT in order to get a persistent connection to the network. Swartz allegedly hid his face from surveillance cameras by holding his bike helmet up to his face and looking through the ventilation holes when going in to swap out an external drive used to store the documents. Swartz also allegedly named his guest account 'Gary Host,' with the nickname 'Ghost.'"

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Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381481)

Good, fuck this asshat.

Re:Good (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381555)

While I agree, it would be great if the posters on here didn't all talk like angry 12 year olds.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381729)

While I agree, it would be great if the posters on here didn't all talk like angry 12 year olds.

I agree. I blame the reddit generation.

I hide my face from security cameras all the time (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381549)

I am ugly

Russia's treatment to Pussy Riot (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#41382107)

We wince when we learn of what Russia is doing to the girl punk band Pussy Riot

They way Russia heaping charges after ridiculous charges on those 3 girls causes many of us boiling mad, and our main stream media condemn what Russia is doing ... on the other hand ...

When the American government heap charges after ridiculous charges on a guy - where are the main stream media ?

The silent treatment from New York Time or Washington Post or Newsweek or Times Magazine is especially deafening.

The fate of the 3 girls of Pussy Riot is ruined by a dictatorship.

The fate of a guy in US is equally ruined - but by a so-called "democratically elected government".

Why the double standards?

Isn't the personal liberty of a guy in USA as important as the liberty of the 3 girls of Pussy Riot?

Re:Russia's treatment to Pussy Riot (2)

davydagger (2566757) | about 2 years ago | (#41382197)

or even better,

American Celebrities and their big media handlers rush to support punk rockers locked up in Russia.

After spending 30+ years trying to crush punk rock in the states in everyway imaginable. Many punk rockers got far worse treatment HERE for FAR LESS than what pussy riot is getting today.

Jello biafra and the 1986 obscentiy suit anyone?

Re:Russia's treatment to Pussy Riot (3, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41382205)

When the American government heap charges after ridiculous charges on a guy

Anyone can heap charge after ridiculous charge on someone. The question is what the courts will have to say about it, and thats where the difference between the US and Russia is.

Youll also note we dont have a "hooliganism" law.

Re:Russia's treatment to Pussy Riot (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382361)

Youll also note we dont have a "hooliganism" law.

We just call it disorderly conduct.

Give the poor bastard a break! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381561)

Last year Aaron Swartz was indicted on four felony counts for allegedly stealing millions of academic journal articles from JSTOR.

The poor bastard probably has insomnia!

That's great! (3)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | about 2 years ago | (#41381569)

Nine additional felony charges? In the world of science is a principle called,'Heat it until it breaks." If the reaction does not work then begin increasing temperature and profiling the mixture by TLC (or other available method) until it works or becomes an irresolute splatter pattern. I am positive that he didn't discover the exploit on day zero and promptly rootkit the world on day one. Just one how stupid is the remainder?

Curious. (2)

aurashift (2037038) | about 2 years ago | (#41381597)

I admit I'm not familiar with the case and didn't read more than the summary, but even in an instance where someone breaks into someone else's network shouldn't it still be considered copyright infringement and not stealing when the original owner isn't being deprived of something?
Forgive my ignorance.

Re:Curious. (2)

foniksonik (573572) | about 2 years ago | (#41381627)

In essence, many of the charges stem from Swartz allegedly breaching the terms of service agreement for those using the research service.

“JSTOR authorizes users to download a limited number of journal articles at a time,” according to the latest indictment. “Before being given access to JSTOR’s digital archive, each user must agree and acknowledge that they cannot download or export content from JSTOR’s computer servers with automated programs such as web robots, spiders, and scrapers. JSTOR also uses computerized measures to prevent users from downloading an unauthorized number of articles using automated techniques.”

There you have it from TFA.

Re:Curious. (5, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 2 years ago | (#41381929)

Am I the only one who thinks it's a bad idea to allow JSTOR and others to prevent worldwide dissemination of academic knowledge through a paywall?

Academic knowledge should belong to the world. Hoarding it for the elites is bad for humanity.

Re:Curious. (0)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41382221)

I dont think thats a bad idea, but Im much more concerned with a generation that seems to favor some kind of anarchy where everyone decides for themselves which of the laws are worth following.

In before someone claims that this is civil disobedience against a corrupt, MPAA controlled government conspiracy.

Re:Curious. (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#41382279)

Im much more concerned with a generation that seems to favor some kind of anarchy where everyone decides for themselves which of the laws are worth following

Who thinks that? I don't see people breaking sensible laws, regardless of their age...

Oh, wait, you were referring to laws that are not sensible. Well what did you expect?

Re:Curious. (2)

ranpel (1255408) | about 2 years ago | (#41382393)

Information Anarchy!

Let the future take hold today for tomorrow it may never come.

Re:Curious. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382399)

What did you expect? You raised us. We watched you speed, fail to yield. We watched you vote for the largest prison population and percentage in the world.

We watched you vote for suffering -- for berlin, for tiannamen and tibet. We watched you pay for a military capable of fighting wars on two fronts, and when the economy went bad, we watched you pay for the wars they were ready for.

And we paid for them and will continue to pay.

I watched your generation ruin and sell out the internet before I could even lawfully purchase access to it -- and when I could, I had to sign a contract to do so -- even at a university.

I watched you sell out my education -- giving me 30 year old textbooks, making me nearly enslave myself at a local university to obtain a piece of paper proving I was willing to indenture myself for four years so that an employer might hope to shackle me down even harder to student loans.

Oh, I had scholarships, funds, state subsidized loans... they came in exchange for not entering the job market for years as a way to keep unemployment down until your generation could finish killing off all semblance of pensions, unions, and suck social security so hard we'll have to deal with historically high inflation rates to pay for it.

But you keep whining about anarchy because people decide laws aren't worth following.

Your law failed.

It isn't anarchy to reject institutionalized serfdom. I don't care if I don't have to bake my bread in your oven and grind my grain on your mill anymore -- you've thoroughly enslaved the world to your dollar, your taxes, and the 'civilization' you've built such that it isn't even economically viable to survive without partaking of the evils you've voted in.

But I guess I'm free to move to Somalia if I don't like law right? Even if you helped orchestrate the overthrow of their government in the 70's and 90's?

Re:Curious. (3, Interesting)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 2 years ago | (#41382459)

Im much more concerned with a generation that seems to favor some kind of anarchy where everyone decides for themselves which of the laws are worth following.

If you don't think that everyone should decide for themselves which laws are worth following, then it follows that you would have handed over fugitive slaves in the 1850s, or fugitive Jews in the 1940s. If that is the case, then you are a terrible human being.

Law has no moral authority in and of itself.

Re:Curious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382263)

The only one? No. Are you an idealist? Absolutely.

Re:Curious. (4, Interesting)

krsmav (1410223) | about 2 years ago | (#41382363)

The most annoying JSTOR policy is that their site is available only to institutions or scholars associated with institutions. They will not sell a subscription to an ordinary individual. Most libraries have subscriptions, but they don't permit remote access. The only exception I know of is the New York Society Library, which costs $200 per year. http://www.nysoclib.org/index.html [nysoclib.org]

thats the publishers not JSTOR (3, Informative)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#41382579)

JSTOR would probably love to give universal access to everyone. they love revenue because it helps them conitnue their mission, expand their collection, hire more researchers and librarians, etc. they dont control the material though. they have to act super nice and kiss a lot of ass to get what they get already. Elsevier, and others, would love to crush JSTOR like a bug.

Re:Curious. (1)

digitalderbs (718388) | about 2 years ago | (#41382503)

Am I the only one who thinks it's a bad idea to allow JSTOR and others to prevent worldwide dissemination of academic knowledge through a paywall?

No. Apparently, Swartz does too.

please read the JSTOR book (5, Informative)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#41382561)

please read the JSTOR book, there is the whole history of how they started their operation and what and how it works.

essentially they were google books before google books. they were the first. and they are a Non-Profit entity.

the problems they ran into were massive - old paper collections of journals are riddled with missing issues, damaged pages, scribbled notes, misprints, etc. they actually had to create their own paper-library where they store 'canonical' versions of the old journals, which scholars pore over, page by page, before being allowed into the collection.

then they send the paper to the Dominican Republic or other low cost labor nations to get it scanned. Then they go and review the scans to make sure they are accurate.

they dont 'prevent worldwide dissemination', they actually provide it. they give a sliding scale of subscription prices to libraries around the world, including lower prices for developing countries (maybe even free, i cant remember). there are literally millions of people who could never access this stuff if not for JSTOR.

the problem is that they have to deal with copyright law responsibly or the publishers will crush them out of existence. they are not google, they cant just rely on the DMCA to get them out of hot water. Remember these guys started in the 90s, before Google was even really a company. They were around in the time of mp3.com --- when a single threat of a lawsuit could wipe out an entire community and valuable web resource for doing stuff that was perfectly legal. IIRC there wasn't even really a DMCA infrastructure working back then. They have to do everything 'by the book'. They cannot, for example, just pull a google and "scan first ask questions later". They would never have existed in the first place if they had that philosophy.

Now you can argue, why arent our taxpayer funded institutions providing free access to this for everyone? Good question. Why should you have to go into a library to use JSTOR? Well, it's not really up to JSTOR, it's up to the copyright holders and the US legal system. So instead of shitting all over JSTOR, please go shit all over Elsevier and the rest of the corrupted, conflicted academic publishing world.

JSTOR are relatively good guys. They are not the ones suing this kid, the Attorney General is.

Re:Curious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382169)

JSTOR can write terms of service, but it cannot write laws. (What does it think it is, the MAFIAA?)

If I had a service and made part of the service agreement that you must yodel when using my service, and I find out you did not yodel (or did not yodel on a computer/internet), are the feds going to come down on you like a load of bricks?

Re:Curious. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41382447)

Probably not. That is because the terms of service were not specifically in controlling your access to the information. However, if the terms said you must run a program called yodel that validate your ability to be on the network or the parts of the system you are accessing, and you failed to do so, they probably would.

This isn't about what the guy did on his own time with his own devices while using the service. This is about the guy going past his access with the service and doing things with or on the service explicitly not authorized. The laptop in the closet and the hard drives being changed out are just evidence of that. They alone are not breaches of the law, they are tools used to violate the access authorized to the user which was a breach of the law.

1. its not a Terms of Service case (2)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#41382603)

its a DMCA case and a CFAA case. totally different laws, and TOS are pretty shaky on legal ground. The folks who try to write about this stuff get it confused all the time, because they are ignorant of the law. But thats no excuse for the rest of us to be. Go read up on the law, theres stuff all over the internet.

2. JSTOR is not suing the kid, the government is. If JSTOR did it that would be a civil suit. This is a criminal suit.

3. JSTOR is not the MAFIAA, they do not push for these kinds of laws. They have to work within the copyright system as it exists so that publishers will grant them access to reproduce the academic journals the publishers own the rights to.

Re:Curious. (4, Interesting)

Cyberllama (113628) | about 2 years ago | (#41382557)

I've used JSTOR and I never agreed to any TOS. More than likely, the University in question did that as they are the actual "customer".

I frankly find it hard to believe that spoofing a MAC address to keep from being banned from a network rises to the level of "hacking". The guy already has trespassing charges for being in the building, and that seems like the most appropriate crime to charge him with. Everything else is just piling on bullshit because "We didn't have a law that fit this guy, so we're gonna throw everything we can think of at him because we think he should go to jail."

For the record, all the articles he "stole" are public domain. JSTOR asserts copyright because it was their scan, even though the articles themselves belong to the public now. The problem is, that there's currently no way to access a lot of this older public domain stuff except by going through JSTOR.

Re:Curious. (1)

TENTH SHOW JAM (599239) | about 2 years ago | (#41381673)

He supplied incorrect details to the system, therefore there is wire fraud.
There may just be plain fraud of impersonating someone to create the account in the first place.
He deprived the owner of bandwidth to the server. (true not much and they weren't using it anyway) Denial of Service.

Re:Curious. (2)

chaboud (231590) | about 2 years ago | (#41381811)

So.... Your handle is wire fraud?

I think that there is a clear civil case here, but I have a hard time buying into the criminal aspects of the case.

Re:Curious. (2)

TENTH SHOW JAM (599239) | about 2 years ago | (#41382355)

Imagine, if you will, that the information was not academic papers, but banking details. Extrapolate.

Re:Curious. (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#41382379)

Some bank didn't do due diligence, and encrypt their account information? Is that your point?

Re:Curious. (1)

wisty (1335733) | about 2 years ago | (#41382389)

Is it fraud? If you claim to be someone else while while robbing a bank, it's fraud. If you wear a Mickey Mouse mask while robbing a bank, it's not.

He didn't provide an materially fake details, he just covered his trail. Using "Gary Host" instead of his own name didn't make his "crime" any easier. Spoofing a MAC address got him off a blacklist, so it might be material, but it's really at the margins.

sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382599)

Offtopic, can you please fix your sig and spell Aristotle correctly?

Spoofing the MAC address? (2, Informative)

dgharmon (2564621) | about 2 years ago | (#41381613)

Spoofing a MAC address is not illegal ..

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381691)

It is if you're doing it to gain access to a computer that otherwise doesn't want you accessing it.

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (2)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 2 years ago | (#41381983)

It is if you're doing it to gain access to a computer that otherwise doesn't want you accessing it.

So the takeaway seems to be this: Set up a script to regularly randomize your MAC for the hell of it. Make it a standard practice on all your computers. If it's against the rules to do it with intent to defraud, do it now, before you have the intent.

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41382249)

On a network that has a moderate degree of security, thats sufficient to trigger IDS and block your network access. Its not exactly difficult for networking gear to notice that one port is cycling through MACs, and cut you off.

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382333)

Erm? WIFI doesn't really have the same notion of ports to my understanding or are you just flying over my head?

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 2 years ago | (#41382575)

On a network that has a moderate degree of security, thats sufficient to trigger IDS and block your network access. Its not exactly difficult for networking gear to notice that one port is cycling through MACs, and cut you off.

Oh, come on, now, you can think of a solution to that. I bet you can think of half a dozen ways to satisfy the spirit of what I was saying without triggering that problem.

Here, I'll give you one: Run the script on boot.

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 2 years ago | (#41382605)

Geez -- I better clarify, eh? OK: Run the script on boot assuming it's a laptop. So you take your laptop to the lab, plug it in to whatever port is available, fire it up, it resets its MAC, and away you go. Each time you reboot, you get a new MAC. That's a fresh MAC daily, at least, with no intent to defraud. (remember -- the intent comes later)

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41381987)

So it may demonstrate intent to access a system without authorization. But by itself, why is it illegal?

to gain access to a computer that otherwise doesn't want you accessing it.

The computer doesn't want? Don't anthropomorphize computers. They hate that.

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382099)

So it may demonstrate intent to access a system without authorization. But by itself, why is it illegal?

to gain access to a computer that otherwise doesn't want you accessing it.

The computer doesn't want? Don't anthropomorphize computers. They hate that.

legitimate rape of a computer?

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382005)

It is if you're doing it to gain access to a computer that otherwise doesn't want you accessing it.

Don't anthropomorphize computers; they don't like it.

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41382239)

Off topic, but one wonders why they werent using port-security if they intended to filter by MAC. Guy changes MAC a few times, boom-- switchport shuts down. Bonus: Now the head of IT knows youre spoofing MACs, and what switchport youre on.

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#41382395)

It is if you're doing it to gain access to a computer that otherwise doesn't want you accessing it.

By that logic purchasing a brand new PC is just as bad.

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (1)

suso (153703) | about 2 years ago | (#41381947)

It is if you also don't provide a real e-mail address, so....

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 2 years ago | (#41382009)

It is if you also don't provide a real e-mail address, so....

I take it a Yahoo email isn't a real email address? Or a Gmail account?

I've got 4 different Yahoo email accounts, each for seperate things. Which one is my 'real' email address? I also have two Gmail accounts, one for personal, one for work. I also have access to 3 other Gmail accounts for work. Which is the real one?

Re:Spoofing the MAC address? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382325)

The ones that have your REAL first and last name in them, not that necessarily have your 'real' name as the address name itself.

Seems pretty logical no?

That's why all those places require you to input one.

So what? (5, Insightful)

fish waffle (179067) | about 2 years ago | (#41381619)

"The indictment accuses Swartz of repeatedly spoofing the MAC address — an identifier that is usually static — of his computer after MIT blocked his computer based on that number.

Right, and...? Is a MAC address some sort of protected id? Everyone knows that MAC filtering is ineffective, and MAC altering is enabled by hardware.

Swartz didn't provide a real e-mail address when registering on the network.

Uh oh, I'm in trouble.

Swartz allegedly hid his face from surveillance cameras by holding his bike helmet up to his face and looking through the ventilation holes when going in to swap out an external drive used to store the documents.

Again, so what? Is it some requirement that we display ourselves clearly to all security cameras?

Swartz also allegedly named his guest account 'Gary Host,' with the nickname 'Ghost.'"

Well, that is scary. Prosecute away then.

Re:So what? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381667)

Interestingly enough, I didn't see any of these things listed as crimes on the actual indictment. That used words more like "Unlawfully Obtaining Information from a Protected Computer" and "Wire Fraud".

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41381829)

Such things can be used as evidence that not only did Swatz break the law, but that he did so intentionally. Also the first two bits, the changing of the MAC address and providing a false email address might become supporting evidence for the argument asserting wire fraud.

Propaganda-wise, this is a easy demonstration that he was acting pretty shifty. That might get the prosecutor some mileage in the courtroom.

Re:So what? (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 years ago | (#41382295)

Such things can be used as evidence that not only did Swatz break the law...

Can be, sure. Should be? Fish Waffle above (mmm, fishy waffles) sums it up succinctly, IMHO.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#41381869)

He lied in order to access a system he might not have been able to access if he didn't lie. That's the crime. They are making lying illegal, so long as the lying is against people with sufficient money to make an issue of it.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381975)

Dude, bury your head in the sand. That's the most idiotic statement I heard on slashdot so far.
They are making lying illegal. ARE YOU FUCKING DENSE?

Re:So what? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#41382057)

Define "fraud".

Re:So what? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 2 years ago | (#41382001)

If lying in order to rip people off is illegal then isn't the entire US Congress now felons?

Re:So what? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#41382069)

The people that make fraud and such illegal are congressmen. Why would they make their own fraud illegal?

Re:So what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381877)

Traditionally, a forged signature has been used as proof that the forger intentionally misrepresented their identity for some fraud. In that light, I don't know that the MAC ID bit is all that strained.

Even hough in common usage, MAC IDs are much more disposable and subject to change than signatures, the change of MAC ID to bypass filtering does help to establish intentionality, which is relevant in a criminal case.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381981)

MAC address spoofing, using a fake email address, covering your face from security cameras ... none of these are inherently illegal. However they seem to indicate intent in this particular instance. It doesn't matter that a MAC address is easily changed. All that matter is why it was changed. If it is done to gain access to a system you had been banned from using it seems to indicate some sort of attempt at trespassing.

Its like a lock on a gate. I can put a crappy lock on the gate that can be smashed with a rock. If someone does so and enters they can be charged with trespassing. There is no requirement to have used some high security state of the art lock.

Re:So what? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41382273)

Everyone knows that MAC filtering is ineffective,

Not if you do it by whitelist, and your network is set up properly. Wrong MAC address? The switch ignores all of your datagrams (including arp requests). MAC address is changing rapidly? Shut the port down and throw a warning.

Its primarily ineffective with Wifi, because IIRC you can see everyone else's MAC, and you can make a reasonable guess about who is authenticated against which SSID. The WAP doesnt control what data you can see, whereas with a wired connection the switch does (thats the entire point of a switch vs a hub).

Wrong term as usual (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381655)

It is copying, not stealing.

Re:Wrong term as usual (2)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 2 years ago | (#41381751)

Legally it is stealing. Get over it. If you don't like it then vote, or run for office and change it. I don't really agree that it is stealing either, but that's how the law seems to treat it right now.

Regardless, he appears to be guilty of wire fraud at the very least.

Re:Wrong term as usual (1)

chaboud (231590) | about 2 years ago | (#41381953)

You may mean "legally, it is theft," but you'd be wrong. Legally, there are gaps between these acts that are clear and significant.

The question of wire fraud should be one of reasonable protection, but it rarely is. If I put a lock on the door to my house, it's a clear impediment to entry. But what if I have an open doorway? No longer necessarily breaking and entering. Now, what if I have an open doorway with a horizontal rod at six feet, smacking the head of anyone tall who walks in without ducking? Ducking is about as hard as changing your MAC address, and I think you'd have a hard time finding a court that would deem a single horizontal bar above average adult height to be a socially sufficient indication of intent to a reasonable person. Unfortunately, the term "reasonable person" should really be "reasonably technically competent person" in this context, as the opinions of the public at large have more to do with who is telling them than what is being said.

So, should someone run for office and change this stuff? Sure, but it's not legally theft.

Re:Wrong term as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381961)

Legally it is stealing.

As in, the legal definition? Are you sure it's actually defined as theft, or is that just what certain people call it to make it sound worse than it is?

Re:Wrong term as usual (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382265)

Legally it is stealing. Get over it.

Legally, the thing itself (not the unauthorized access/et cetera) is a civil matter of copyright infringement, and nothing more.

Law uses very antiquated, verbose, precise language for a reason.

Re:Wrong term as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382525)

Legally, you're wrong.

Legally, if he were charged with "stealing" for this he would be legally walking in the courtroom with no lawyer legally laughing at the prosecution while the judge reams them for charging someone for a crime they didn't commit.

Re:Wrong term as usual (1)

St. Alfonzo (1393181) | about 2 years ago | (#41381787)

Stealing in the sense of 'making unauthorized use of the property of another' - this is not a concept in law.

Re:Wrong term as usual (2)

St. Alfonzo (1393181) | about 2 years ago | (#41381801)

Nice, fingers, nice. should read '...not a NEW concept in law.'

Overarching concept of "stealing" (2)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#41382045)

Perhaps your slip was apt. Does the law even recognize an overarching concept of "stealing" of which larceny, copyright infringement, and theft of network service are subclasses?

Re:Wrong term as usual (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#41382311)

Here I was, thinking I agreed with you...

My 2 cents (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 2 years ago | (#41381661)

I think this is more an indictment of the current method that we use for disturbing academic journals than anything else.

Feel free to point out if I'm wrong though I'm not super familiar with the specifics of this case, but to me it just highlights a bigger problem.

Federal prosecutors (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41381665)

Federal prosecutors are some sick bastards. The worst of the worst. This is clearly intended to dissuade Swartz from exercising his constiutional right to a trial. Throw every charge at him in order to scare him into accepting a plea bargain. This is why 97% of federal cases end in plea bargains. Not because prosecutors are right 97% of the time, but because they are the biggest bullies in the country.

We'd all be safer if those who have charged Swartz were behind bars themselves.

Re:Federal prosecutors (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41381857)

Mod me down if you want, but that doesn't change the fact that Swartz would have been better off if the Mafia had broken both his kneecaps, or left him dead in a ditch, rather than facing decades in federal PMITA prison where he will emerge an old, broken man, if at all. Is this really what you call justice?

Re:Federal prosecutors (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 2 years ago | (#41382053)

The problem is, he's in the United States. Around here, you only get the justice you can mortgage your daughter's virginity for.

Re:Federal prosecutors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382087)

Yes. Next question!

Re:Federal prosecutors (2)

Fwipp (1473271) | about 2 years ago | (#41382245)

He would be better off dead in a ditch than in prison?

Re:Federal prosecutors (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41382449)

At least a bullet to the head would be over soon.

Re:Federal prosecutors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381901)

Not only that, but if he does go for a jury trial, a high number of charges almost guarantees a conviction; jurors want to appear fair, so when the case isn't clearcut, they tend to find guilt on a few of the least serious charges, regardless of the particular evidence for each, so as to not let the guy off scot-free.

Re:Federal prosecutors (5, Interesting)

chaboud (231590) | about 2 years ago | (#41381973)

And this is why, when prosecutors have clearly dog-piled unreasonable charges in an effort to force a plea, judges should reflexively dismiss cases with prejudice. At this point, there's no harm in trying.

Hell, prosecutors who bully with untenable charges should be held in contempt. This is up to judges. It is their responsibility to maintain fairness. Perhaps we should start appointing/electing judges who didn't go to the same law schools and work in the same firms as the attorneys they interact with. Perhaps we should stop appointing/electing lawyers.

Re:Federal prosecutors (3, Insightful)

zerro (1820876) | about 2 years ago | (#41382015)

Can be hard to do when Judge and DA are golfing buddies. Just sayin'

Prosecutor looking to make a career or and example (2)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | about 2 years ago | (#41381709)

This feels like over reaching on the prosecutor's part. Maybe to force a plea.

I thought it would be hard to screw up a case like the Casey Anthony trial but Prosecutors looking to make a reputation can surprise you by going to trial and not making a deal.

I understand his position on open data but it was the absolute wrong way to go about it.

They all force plea deals (3, Insightful)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 2 years ago | (#41381719)

Its a win for the prosecutor's record and saves the time of a jury trial. If Everyone charged with a crime opted for a jury the courts would be back logged for decades.

Re:They all force plea deals (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#41381885)

No, they'd be backlogged for 180 days, when everyone would be set free for not getting their right to a speedy trial satisfied.

Re:They all force plea deals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382185)

Plea deals increase the likelihood that innocents will be punished. I'd rather have backlogs than that.

Re:They all force plea deals (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 2 years ago | (#41382367)

Its a win for the prosecutor's record and saves the time of a jury trial. If Everyone charged with a crime opted for a jury the courts would be back logged for decades.

yeah, cant have justice for all, only for those who can afford it

Arrested for nerdiness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381747)

Who the hell puts this much effort into stealing academic journal articles?
Unless there's a secondary market for these that I am wholly unaware of, am I the only person who thinks the feds could be using their crime fighting skills a little more appropriately?

Robin Hood (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41381845)

Who puts this much effort into something? Someone who believes it is right. Someone who is tired of seeing 6 billion people forbidden any access at any price to academic papers in electronic form, just because they are not members of a privileged guild.

Re:Robin Hood - the Guild is who! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382077)

... they are not members of a privileged guild.

The Guild - I knew it! I thought THEY were behind this. It has their prints all over this.

One day - ONE DAY - people will wake up and rise up against the Guild - THE GUILD - the ones who are behind ALL of this!

I don't mean to sound like those conspiracy nuts that say that the Moon landing was fake or that JFK was shot by another person! Altough, the Guild did in fact ADD some footage to the Moon landing. It wasn't faked - BUT it WAS augmented!

And JFK? Well, The Guild did in fact hire Martin Luther King -SR. to take him out and when he demanded more money, well, his son paid the price - that's all I'm say'in.

And after all that, I see that the Guild is involved in hiding scientific papers! What papers? what secrets don't they want people to know? Warp drive?!? Aliens!!

The Guild are the ones hding the aliens in Area 51!! Here's the proof folks! The Guild has arrested this poor bastard to keep those secrets from the People!!!

Beware! Beware!!!

Re:Robin Hood (1)

duk242 (1412949) | about 2 years ago | (#41382115)

Hit the nail on the head, it's about doing something because you believe it's right.

Jury Nullification anyone? (3, Insightful)

Gim Tom (716904) | about 2 years ago | (#41381859)

Isn't it about time for Juries to use their power of Jury Nullification? Jury members can vote their conscience no matter what the law, the prosecutor or even the Judge says. Unfortunately most are told otherwise.

Re:Jury Nullification anyone? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 2 years ago | (#41382369)

You've haven't served on many criminal juries, have you? Jury nullification doesn't even get out of the gate when a judge deliberately stacks the jury box by making jury candidates explicitly agree not to thwart any applicable rules of law. Think I'm kidding? I've been in such a courtroom. It was a murder case with two defendants, which meant that the prosecutor intended to leverage the sickening so-called "felony murder rule", and the judge was ready to support him doing it. He did this by doing exactly what I described: demanding that each of us agree to apply that rule without hesitation. The judge wouldn't even describe the purpose of the rule or its history when I asked; so, unless we happened to already know what it was, he expected us to blindly affirm a "rule" (it's not even a true law AFAIK) we knew nothing about.

The goal of the judge was clear: if any juror refused to make this affirmation, that person would be ejected immediately; if any LIED to him and then later tried to nullify, he would slap them with contempt of court at the least. I got thrown off the jury.

I used to think our court system was still capable of serving as the impartial bastion it was intended to be, until I witnessed this. The misbehavior of our current Supreme Court doesn't stop at the doors of their chamber, it trickles all the way down to the bottom.

What's the payoff? (1)

Archeopteryx (4648) | about 2 years ago | (#41381999)

Does anybody know what he gained or expected to gain by doing this?

Re:What's the payoff? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#41382261)

Knowledge?

Re:What's the payoff? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382577)

That is a pretty damn serious weapon for an ordinary man to poses or even try to acquire, off with his head!

re:JSTOR pinnacle of scientific oppression? :D (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382043)

I mean seriously how many people actually downloads some scientific papers(it being really bitch to do if your not student of some university, that some people will have no participation)

anyhow Scientific Freedom kinda includes the knowledge not the payment for paper +fucking papers should be cheaper to publish in electronic form but somehow these "Scientific paper storages around web" have higher prices than new Harry Potter book in physical form...

Academic world is kinda turning into opposite of innovative and free, into circle jerking folks whom want to hide their so called "Science" behind pay unless your approved to academic circle jerking school (provocation but for reason)

kyrpepaske@g(ayscience)mail.com

I love stories with a bad guy (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | about 2 years ago | (#41382121)

"Federal prosecutors piled on nine additional felony charges."

Guess those article authors didn't wanna share them.

Free content will never get protection from all the paid content will it?

Greg Maxwell's comments (5, Interesting)

CockMonster (886033) | about 2 years ago | (#41382125)

Here's the reason given in the archive for the theft/release: -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1 This archive contains 18,592 scientific publications totaling 33GiB, all from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and which should be available to everyone at no cost, but most have previously only been made available at high prices through paywall gatekeepers like JSTOR. Limited access to the documents here is typically sold for $19 USD per article, though some of the older ones are available as cheaply as $8. Purchasing access to this collection one article at a time would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also included is the basic factual metadata allowing you to locate works by title, author, or publication date, and a checksum file to allow you to check for corruption. ef8c02959e947d7f4e4699f399ade838431692d972661f145b782c2fa3ebcc6a sha256sum.txt I've had these files for a long time, but I've been afraid that if I published them I would be subject to unjust legal harassment by those who profit from controlling access to these works.
I now feel that I've been making the wrong decision.
On July 19th 2011, Aaron Swartz was criminally charged by the US Attorney General's office for, effectively, downloading too many academic papers from JSTOR.
Academic publishing is an odd system—the authors are not paid for their writing, nor are the peer reviewers (they're just more unpaid academics), and in some fields even the journal editors are unpaid. Sometimes the authors must even pay the publishers.
And yet scientific publications are some of the most outrageously expensive pieces of literature you can buy. In the past, the high access fees supported the costly mechanical reproduction of niche paper journals, but online distribution has mostly made this function obsolete.
As far as I can tell, the money paid for access today serves little significant purpose except to perpetuate dead business models. The "publish or perish" pressure in academia gives the authors an impossibly weak negotiating position, and the existing system has enormous inertia.
Those with the most power to change the system--the long-tenured luminary scholars whose works give legitimacy and prestige to the journals, rather than the other way around--are the least impacted by its failures. They are supported by institutions who invisibly provide access to all of the resources they need. And as the journals depend on them, they may ask for alterations to the standard contract without risking their career on the loss of a publication offer. Many don't even realize the extent to which academic work is inaccessible to the general public, nor do they realize what sort of work is being done outside universities that would benefit by it.
Large publishers are now able to purchase the political clout needed to abuse the narrow commercial scope of copyright protection, extending it to completely inapplicable areas: slavish reproductions of historic documents and art, for example, and exploiting the labors of unpaid scientists. They're even able to make the taxpayers pay for their attacks on free society by pursuing criminal prosecution (copyright has classically been a civil matter) and by burdening public institutions with outrageous subscription fees.
Copyright is a legal fiction representing a narrow compromise: we give up some of our natural right to exchange information in exchange for creating an economic incentive to author, so that we may all enjoy more works. When publishers abuse the system to prop up their existence, when they misrepresent the extent of copyright coverage, when they use threats of frivolous litigation to suppress the dissemination of publicly owned works, they are stealing from everyone else.
Several years ago I came into possession, through rather boring and lawful means, of a large collection of JSTOR documents.
These particular documents are the historic back archives of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society—a prestigious scientific journal with a history extending back to the 1600s.
The portion of the collection included in this archive, ones published prior to 1923 and therefore obviously in the public domain, total some 18,592 papers and 33 gigabytes of data.
The documents are part of the shared heritage of all mankind, and are rightfully in the public domain, but they are not available freely. Instead the articles are available at $19 each--for one month's viewing, by one person, on one computer. It's a steal. From you.
When I received these documents I had grand plans of uploading them to Wikipedia's sister site for reference works, Wikisource— where they could be tightly interlinked with Wikipedia, providing interesting historical context to the encyclopedia articles. For example, Uranus was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel; why not take a look at the paper where he originally disclosed his discovery? (Or one of the several follow on publications about its satellites, or the dozens of other papers he authored?)
But I soon found the reality of the situation to be less than appealing: publishing the documents freely was likely to bring frivolous litigation from the publishers.
As in many other cases, I could expect them to claim that their slavish reproduction—scanning the documents— created a new copyright interest. Or that distributing the documents complete with the trivial watermarks they added constituted unlawful copying of that mark. They might even pursue strawman criminal charges claiming that whoever obtained the files must have violated some kind of anti-hacking laws.
In my discreet inquiry, I was unable to find anyone willing to cover the potentially unbounded legal costs I risked, even though the only unlawful action here is the fraudulent misuse of copyright by JSTOR and the Royal Society to withhold access from the public to that which is legally and morally everyone's property.
In the meantime, and to great fanfare as part of their 350th anniversary, the RSOL opened up "free" access to their historic archives—but "free" only meant "with many odious terms", and access was limited to about 100 articles.
All too often journals, galleries, and museums are becoming not disseminators of knowledge—as their lofty mission statements suggest—but censors of knowledge, because censoring is the one thing they do better than the Internet does. Stewardship and curation are valuable functions, but their value is negative when there is only one steward and one curator, whose judgment reigns supreme as the final word on what everyone else sees and knows. If their recommendations have value they can be heeded without the coercive abuse of copyright to silence competition.
The liberal dissemination of knowledge is essential to scientific inquiry. More than in any other area, the application of restrictive copyright is inappropriate for academic works: there is no sticky question of how to pay authors or reviewers, as the publishers are already not paying them. And unlike 'mere' works of entertainment, liberal access to scientific work impacts the well-being of all mankind. Our continued survival may even depend on it.
If I can remove even one dollar of ill-gained income from a poisonous industry which acts to suppress scientific and historic understanding, then whatever personal cost I suffer will be justified—it will be one less dollar spent in the war against knowledge. One less dollar spent lobbying for laws that make downloading too many scientific papers a crime.
I had considered releasing this collection anonymously, but others pointed out that the obviously overzealous prosecutors of Aaron Swartz would probably accuse him of it and add it to their growing list of ridiculous charges. This didn't sit well with my conscience, and I generally believe that anything worth doing is worth attaching your name to.
I'm interested in hearing about any enjoyable discoveries or even useful applications which come of this archive.
- ---- Greg Maxwell - July 20th 2011 gmaxwell@gmail.com Bitcoin: 14csFEJHk3SYbkBmajyJ3ktpsd2TmwDEBb -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.4.11 (GNU/Linux) iEYEARECAAYFAk4nlfwACgkQrIWTYrBBO/pK4QCfV/voN6IdZRU36Vy3xAedUMfz rJcAoNF4/QTdxYscvF2nklJdMzXFDwtF =YlVR -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

Re:Greg Maxwell's comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382593)

A great man. Hopefully his sacrifice is put to good use.

Zero Cool feels your pain (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 2 years ago | (#41382155)

HACK THE PLANET!

Stealing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41382229)

Seems to me he liberated those articles from the tyranny of a monopolistic and parasitic organization that was restricting access to knowledge for its own profit.

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