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Aaron Swartz Case: Deja Vu All Over Again For MIT

timothy posted about a year ago | from the still-want-an-mit-shirt dept.

Crime 175

theodp writes "On Saturday, questions for MIT's Aaron Swartz investigation were posted on Slashdot with the hope that MIT'ers might repost some to the MIT Swartz Review site. So it's good to see that MIT's Hal Abelson, who is leading the analysis of MIT's involvement in the matter, is apparently open to this workaround to the ban on questions from outsiders. In fact, on Sunday Abelson himself reposted an interesting question posed by Boston College Law School Prof. Sharon Beckman: 'What, if anything, did MIT learn from its involvement in the federal prosecution of its student David LaMacchia back in 1994?' Not much, it would appear. LaMacchia, an apparent student of Abelson's whose defense team included Beckman, was indicted in 1994 and charged with the 'piracy of an estimated million dollars' in business and entertainment computer software after MIT gave LaMacchia up to the FBI. LaMacchia eventually walked from the charges, thanks to what became known as the LaMacchia Loophole, which lawmakers took pains to close. 'MIT collaborated with the FBI to wreck LaMacchia's life,' defense attorney Harvey Silverglate charged in 1995 after a judge dismissed the case. 'I hope that this case causes a lot of introspection on the part of MIT's administration. Unfortunately, I doubt it will.'"

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175 comments

Put on the Mittens! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714347)

Because I'm suicidal I can break into a world famous institution, install a laptop, script file downloads, evade security, hide my identity, lie to campus police and be let go free of charge! Otherwise I'll kill myself.

If only MIT would have learned its lesson!

Legal and you know it, Ortiz doesn't (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714507)

"install a laptop, script file downloads,"
You know those two things are legal don't you?

"evade security, hide my identity"
Yep, this too, completely legal. You as Anonymous Coward should know it's legal to hide your identity! Even Ortiz can come here and spout random garbage hiding her identity.

"lie to campus police and be let go free of charge"
This too, completely legal, campus police are just security guards with no special right to be told the truth.

What he was charged with, was copyright infringement (possibly trespass), written up as hacking and wire fraud. The investigation is to whether the prosecutor was inflated the charges for her political gain. She has a history of it, the prosecutors office wasn't planning on big charges, then she took it off him.

MIT are concerned that they may be a conspirator to this inflation-for-political-gain. See they can see the charges were inflated and they want to make sure their hands are clean of it. Prosecuting a crime based on the law of the crime is one thing, prosecuting on random inflated implausible charges in order to force a plea bargain to score a nice prosecution on your CV, is something quite quite different.

The question now is if Ortiz can remain in office when her view of the law is so departed from the actual laws themselves.

At best she's malicious, at worst she's incompetent*. Either way, that's not someone who should be a prosecutor, let along a head prosecutor.

* I don't think she was incompetent, when she described copyright infringement as 'theft if theft' it showed a disregard for the law she was completely aware of.

Re:Legal and you know it, Ortiz doesn't (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | about a year ago | (#42715009)

"This too, completely legal, campus police are just security guards with no special right to be told the truth."

Actually campus police are usually sworn police officers under state statutes, just like municipal or county police.

I think MIT was morally wrong in not pursuing this, and the U.S. attorneys' office overreached, but the whole issue is not as cut-and-dried as most people here would prefer you believe. I don't think Swartz was just a passive actor caught up in forces he had no control over, and framing the story that way does a disservice to the truth. Even the 6 month prison sentence under the plea bargain was unfair but not a legitimate cause for suicide and I don't think you can put all of that on the prosecutors' shoulders; I mean 6 months in a minimum security federal prison is not exactly hard time.

Re:Legal and you know it, Ortiz doesn't (3, Informative)

Mike_EE_U_of_I (1493783) | about a year ago | (#42715941)

And if it was just the six months, that might have been OK. But the prosecutor was also insisting on a guilty plea to multiple felony counts. Once you are a convicted felon, many of your rights disappear forever. Do you vote? Convicted felons don't.

How Is Parent Moderated Up? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715245)

"install a laptop, script file downloads,"
You know those two things are legal don't you?

The fuck is he smoking? You're telling me that if I entered your private property and hid a laptop in your closet and attached it to your router and started retrieving everything sent across or hosted locally and then retrieved it at a later date, that would not be illegal?

Wow, Slashdot is really scraping the bottom by modding that drivel up.

What he was charged with, was copyright infringement (possibly trespass), written up as hacking and wire fraud.

What's the matter you couldn't take the time to read the docket? Go ahead and say that the prosecutor was seeking overreaching charges but for fuck's sake, people, a lot of the things he did should still be crimes!

Re:Legal and you know it, Ortiz doesn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715933)

This too, completely legal, campus police are just security guards with no special right to be told the truth.

I find it highly unlikely that MIT doesn't have sworn officers.

Re:Legal and you know it, Ortiz doesn't (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715979)

If Campus Police carry guns, they are authorized Law Enforcement Officers. In such cases, Campus Police are not security guards. Campus Police have a much smaller area of jurisdiction than sheriff deputies or metropolitan police officers; they can detain, arrest and imprison. Lying to Campus Police is against the law just as it is to other Law Enforcement Officers.

The Supreme Court of the US ruled that a Police Officer has the authority to require a person show identification. In one case, the citizen was just standing near the investigation site and refused to show his IF. The SCOTUS ruled that NOT carrying/showing proper ID was a crime.

It would help if you understood that you have fewer "rights" or options than you think you have and to know exactly what your rights are.

Re:Legal and you know it, Ortiz doesn't (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#42716155)

What he was charged with, was copyright infringement (possibly trespass)

No, that's not what Swartz was charged with. Swartz was charged with wire fraud, computer fraud, unauthorized access, and computer damage.

MIT are concerned that they may be a conspirator to this inflation-for-political-gain

I seriously doubt it. You may question the political wisdom or morality of what the prosecutor did, but she was operating within standard federal guidelines. In fact, until a few years ago, she would have been obligated to (not just free to) file the maximum possible charges.

And MIT certainly has a right to report people who may have accessed their networks without authorization to the police and prosecutor. As long as MIT doesn't conceal or exaggerate charges, they are automatically in the clear.

Re:Put on the Mittens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716129)

This Horse (and Andrew) is dead.

Quit flogging it.

What a load of crap (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714377)

This must be one of the worst summaries ever, even by slashdot summary standards it is a rambling mess of emotions, calendar events and opinions: It's noisy, unstructured and biased.
And the editor is not helping, but I see it's timothy so who am I kidding.

LaMacchia Loophole (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714397)

Is that a loophole?

Surely a copyright violation SHOULD be charged under copyright acts, not interstate wire fraud.

WIRE FRAUD?? Really? Intentional deception of others to personally gain from them? Where? How? Who? did that happen.

Wallstreet junk assets, dressed as prime sold to banks under deception = criminal fraud, yes I can see that. And I was happy to see the heavy criminal sentences handed down to the Wallstreet bankers who lied about assets to sell them onto to their clients. Hold on, I've got confused, I meant the heavy wads of cash handed down to Wallstreet bankers who lied about assets....

At least could you charge those bankers with copyright infringement? Maybe a parking fine?

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (4, Informative)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | about a year ago | (#42714583)

Thanks to them closing the "LaMacchia Loophole" you can now be charged with theft and wire fraud for downloading copyright material even if you never had any intention or likelihood of making money from it ...

So now doing something that could *potentially* make you large amounts of money from (but in reality could not) is prosecuted as if you were a crime boss with vast assets from your criminal activity even though you are in reality a poor student ....

How could he potentially gain from it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714657)

And how could he potentially profit from it? It was free to download anyway, JSTOR just had a usage limit. He downloaded it and made it public (based on a belief, that public funded research shouldn't be locked away in a private paid for document service).

Regardless of his motive, he could not have profited from it, and Ortiz should not have lied to bring the wrong charges in order to force a plea bargain.

See if you're prosecuting someone for imagined potential crimes, and your imagination is so far outside the realm of viable reality that you're just going for the plea-bargain, you're trying to do an end run around the courts. You've elevated yourself from prosecutor to judge and jury. What Ortiz did was very very very bad.

I think it's a pity Swartz committed suicide. He was probably right about public funded research being available publicly, maybe not his method but his motive. Ortiz on the other hand, if she'd committed suicide, over her misuse of federal law, people would shrug their shoulders and say good riddance to a bad prosecutor.

Karma and all.

Re:How could he potentially gain from it? (0)

nomadic (141991) | about a year ago | (#42715017)

"He downloaded it and made it public (based on a belief, that public funded research shouldn't be locked away in a private paid for document service)."

I would assume that there was a small but nontrivial amount of research completely unfunded by the general public.

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42714705)

At least they put a bar up. The bar is low, but it's there. $1000 worth of copyrighted material in a 180 day period. Joe Schmuck who downloads a movie or two is safe, but if his wife ALSO downloads a couple hundred songs, then they might be in trouble.

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714837)

What copyrighted material has ever been "valued" under millions of dollars? As pertains to these kinds of cases anyways.

That would be 0.01% of a single track of music. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714905)

According to Jammie's requested fine for copyright infringement of 22 tracks, $1000 of copyrighted material would be a couple of seconds of one track of an MP3.

Re:That would be 0.01% of a single track of music. (2)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year ago | (#42715441)

this!

I thought they were inflating the dollar amount because they were jerks. But it was more than just that: they had to inflate it so it met the dollar amount where the feds could get involved.

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715005)

The material he downloaded was all public domain, meaning he is 100% free to share anything he downloaded. What he did that was wrong was he violated the EULA which stated that the end user couldn't mass-download or use scripts to download.

Essentially he got charged with wire fraud for breaking an EULA.

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about a year ago | (#42716333)

The material he downloaded was all public domain, meaning he is 100% free to share anything he downloaded. What he did that was wrong was he violated the EULA which stated that the end user couldn't mass-download or use scripts to download.

Essentially he got charged with wire fraud for breaking an EULA he never agreed to in the first place.

FTFY

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (1, Troll)

gutnor (872759) | about a year ago | (#42714773)

We could use the same logic to charge a hunter hunting without hunting license with the first degree multiple murders. After all he could have use the same blatant disregard of the law to shoot every one he could. Currently it is a misdemeanour with a pathetic 1 year in prison plus fine. Worse, those psychopathic serial killers are generally only fined.

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#42716239)

Thanks to them closing the "LaMacchia Loophole"

"Them" being the elected representatives. They decided that even if you don't profit from copyright violation, you should still have the book thrown at you. I believe the NET Act passed the house and senate unanimously and was signed into law by Bill Clinton.

Did you take your senator and representative to task when it passed? I bet you didn't. You don't like it? Become politically active.

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716285)

so 1 download could potentially equal 6 billion people getting a copy. then they can turn around and charge all 6 billion people since they could have downloaded it and re-uploaded it too..

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714775)

NEVER expect anything LESS of psychopaths.

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year ago | (#42714805)

WIRE FRAUD?? Really? Intentional deception of others to personally gain from them? Where? How? Who? did that happen.

At the risk of condoning prosecutor's reach, I believe the wire fraud charge resulted from the trespass, wiretap, and using MIT's credentials to gain access to JSTOR.

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#42714949)

No. LaMacchia didn't do anything of the sorts, and the wire fraud charges were presented against him.

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year ago | (#42715693)

The subject was Lamacchia Loophole not Lamacchia. The wire fraud charges against Lamacchia didn't stick because it was misapplied. The wire fraud charges against Swartz would apply because unlike Lamacchia he was not authorized to be on MIT campus and gained fraudulent access to their internal network via a wiring closet which allowed him to gain access to JSTOR. The Lamacchia Loophole wouldn't apply since, in this particular case, the prosecution isn't using wire fraud charges as a means to prosecute copyright infringement. The copyright law has been strengthen to the point where they no longer need to try to make a related charge. Of course, I am not a lawyer so this is pure speculation.

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#42716093)

The wire fraud charges brought against Swartz were only possible because LaMacchia's "loophole" was closed.

There is no such concept as "fraudulent access" that applies to wire-fraud charges. Wire-fraud is a crime which formerly required money gain to the perpetrator, and now requires any gain or "potential" gain, as long as the property acquired can generate at least U$ 1000,00 in six months. It doesn't matter any more if it will.

Re:LaMacchia Loophole (1)

Dan667 (564390) | about a year ago | (#42716169)

the double standard of a poor student who did not even harm the copyright holder vs wallstreet bankers who actually ruined the lives of thousands is really worth note.

Petty (3, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about a year ago | (#42714463)

MIT sure seems like a petty and vengeful institution. I hope this makes some potential students think about their decision of school.

Re:Petty (3, Insightful)

Pale Dot (2813911) | about a year ago | (#42714529)

MIT isn't unique in this case where one department doesn't know what the other is doing. Bureaucratic incompetence, not malice, is the more likely culprit.

Re:Petty (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714611)

No, they weren't vengeful at all. LaMacchia graduated and no internal disciplinary charges were filed. They should have reviewed his case internally and expelled him. LaMacchia was running a warez site, on machines in an MIT cluster, and much like Swartz got the access revoked repeatedly and kept putting his illegal and resource consuming services back into MIT's networks. The amount of warez downloaded through his site for which he was charged was only a few days' traffic, he'd been running that thing for *months*.

LaMacchia, and Swartz, went beyond all reason in their consistent abuse of network resources and were interfering with other resources. LaMacchia was bumping up MIT's external network traffic bills, and that cost real money from a very limited pot that MIT's network people have to fight and struggle for every year. LaMacchia was also hosting warez, costing commercial software businesses a lot of money (though that's not immediately damaging to MIT). Whether he accepted cash for them or not, he was acting as a fence for these stolen goods, and he damn well knew it. The "LaMacchia Loophole" was that he didn't take money for it. Swartz screwed up JSTOR access for everyone at MIT and repeatedly took down JSTOR servers, interfering with other labs and schools.

They both belonged in jail. Too bad they were both too privileged, pretty white boys to serve even a day.

Re: Petty (1, Insightful)

Urza9814 (883915) | about a year ago | (#42714655)

Swartz screwed up JSTOR access for everyone at MIT and repeatedly took down JSTOR servers, interfering with other labs and schools.

...by downloading files that he had permission to access.

They both belonged in jail. Too bad they were both too privileged, pretty white boys to serve even a day.

So the Slashdot effect is a crime now? Does that mean anyone who actually RTFAs is guilty of conspiracy?

Re: Petty (1)

Rakishi (759894) | about a year ago | (#42714707)

...by downloading files that he had permission to access.

So a DDOS attack is perfectly fine because it's merely accessing a sever that you've already had permission to access?

Re: Petty (2)

Urza9814 (883915) | about a year ago | (#42714803)

Yes; it's the digital equivalent to a sit-in; the fact that it is considered to be illegal is absurd.

But even if you disagree, the entire reason a DDOS is illegal is because the intent is to shut down the site. If my site is so poorly coded that a single visitor crashes the server, you think I'd have any luck going to the FBI asking them to investigate the "criminal" responsible? Of course not. It was not a coordinated attack; it was not an intentional attempt to shut down the site; it was one guy downloading some papers that he had every right to download. If their servers can't handle the load they should add some rate limiting or something.

Re: Petty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715215)

No, he didn't have a right to download them, the jstor terms of service explicitly prohibited what he did.

Re: Petty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715113)

The extra D in DDOS stands for "distributed", you know, lots and lots of computers, which is not the case.

Any service can get DOS'd, what do you think getting slashdotted means? The difference is the intentions. The word that is normally understood is "DOS attack", which means to purposefully attack the target with the intention of a DOS.

Re:Petty (-1, Troll)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42714743)

Uhhhmmm, the "privileged" bit, I can understand. The "white boys" just shows that you have some kind of problem with your prejudices. The "pretty" reveals your sexual preferences, I think. You wanted to be locked up with them, I take it? Balogna ponies aren't just for white chicks? You'd like your opportunity to charm a one eyed snow snake? ROFLMAO!!!

Re:Petty (1, Redundant)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about a year ago | (#42714999)

The "pretty" reveals your sexual preferences

Learn to read, moron. [reference.com]

, I think

Certainly NOT.

Re:Petty (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#42714847)

Whether they belonged in jail or not, twisting the law into a pretzel to ensure that they could potentially have been jailed if those laws had been in effect at the time they commited the offense, with no regards for the future consequences of those new laws, is completely insane.

Re:Petty (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#42714879)

To me, not filing internal disciplinary charges, but instead working with the FBI to prosecute him, has it exactly backwards. If indeed he did something wrong and damaged the MIT network, why not discipline him internally rather than calling in the FBI? Not everything needs to be a federal criminal case, especially when the institution is large and wealthy enough, as MIT is, to handle its own problems.

Re:Petty (1)

nomadic (141991) | about a year ago | (#42715513)

If indeed he did something wrong and damaged the MIT network, why not discipline him internally rather than calling in the FBI?

Because he didn't work for MIT, so the school had no jurisdiction over him and no ability to punish him.

Re:Petty (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#42715751)

That's true for Swartz; I was responding to the comment about LaMacchia, who was an MIT student, so could've been handled internally.

Re:Petty (2)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#42715101)

Why would you expel someone for warez? That just shows that a school has no actual values/isn't with the times. Please show me a school that would expel a student for torrenting, and that would be a school which should be torn down for a lack of a backbone on sensible policies.

Please remind me of where the harm is for LaMacchia, since he was found not guilty. Please, play more bullshit there, buddy. Swartz's access to Jstor meant nothing as it was public. If he took it down, then what? That means it's nothing to do with copyright or wire fraud if you're simply impacting the network.

Neither belong in jail. It's too bad that you seem to have a complete misunderstanding of the law and reality, just like anyone who's either a: deliberately trolling or b: associated/involved with some aspect of MIT, or c: MAFIAA.

Re:Petty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714669)

You seem to assume that there exist non-petty and non-vengeful institutions. I am doubtful.

Re:Petty (2)

JockTroll (996521) | about a year ago | (#42714799)

I hope this makes some potential students think about their decision of school.

Lol, and go where? Burger King University? MIT means prestige, and choosing MIT (if you have the talent and the money) means being a winner in the highly competitive job market. A landfill full of aaronswartzcorpses is not going to change that.

Re:Petty (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715905)

I honestly hope this fracas sobers some people up with respect to MIT's reputation. As a graduate I am often ashamed of the fawning the press does over us when the work of many other schools is in the same general category of importance. Often, our accomplishments are presented as magic while similar schools do similarly valuable stuff and it gets overlooked or minimized. We are made into a spectacle because it benefits the sale of news (magazines, blogs, etc.) and enhances the reputation of the school, allowing them to charge higher tuition.

Outward Appearances (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714467)

From the outside, it sure looks like someone or some group is trying hard to make an issue where there isn't one. I don't know whose agenda is being pushed, but they seem determined.

To the dispassionate and disinterested outside observer, a mentally disturbed man committed suicide. The only one at fault is the mentally disturbed man.

Re:Outward Appearances (5, Interesting)

alexgieg (948359) | about a year ago | (#42714573)

To the dispassionate and disinterested outside observer, a mentally disturbed man committed suicide.

No. To a dispassionate and disinterested outside observer, someone was being punished much more harshly than whatever he deserved.

It's simply really. Murder should carry the harshest punishment, whatever "harshest" means in a given culture. Anything that caused less severe damage should be punished less severly, in roughly this decreasing order: a) murder; b) physical damage to another person, c) physical damage to another's property, d) no physical damage to anyone.

Moral issues arise when one does something at 'd' level, but the law (and those enforcing it) are so sick they want to punish him at 'c+' level. Swartz case is a prime example, and clear symptom, of this very sickness.

Re:Outward Appearances (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714709)

Dude, you don't seem very dispassionate about this issue at all.

1. There was a plan to prosecute, there was no conviction.
1a. You can be (i)charged, (ii)prosecuted and a (iii)jury determines your guilt. This situation was at the first stage (i). No foul.

I also notice that there is a severe bias in this case with regard to sexuality. Swartz was gay and the gay community is very passionately engaged in the "outrage" over this case.

I have to ask; are you gay? I'm not attempting to troll, I just wonder if this biases your position. Far greater true injustices, than are being implied here, occur every day and nobody gets all up in arms about it.

Re:Outward Appearances (4, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#42714829)

1a. You can be (i)charged, (ii)prosecuted and a (iii)jury determines your guilt. This situation was at the first stage (i). No foul.

So the next time you get a parking ticket, if you're charged with murder, you'd be OK with that because you'd get the chance to defend yourself in court?

A gross exaggeration of course, but your statement "no foul" about the gross prosecutorial overreach in this case makes me feel sick. How can anyone possibly say that in good conscience???

You paedo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714927)

Now, if a prosecutor decided to take that for investigation, and that they were investigating you for running a paedo ring got leaked, are you OK now?

Re:Outward Appearances (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715563)

> I also notice that there is a severe bias in this case with regard to sexuality.

I've been following this case, this is the first time I realised that he was gay. His sexuality neither adds to nor subtracts from the injustice.

> 1a. You can be (i)charged, (ii)prosecuted and a (iii)jury determines your guilt. This situation was at the first stage (i). No foul.

Ha ha, how quaint. you think that he was going to be given a chance to defend himself in a fair trial.

No, the truth is, the prosecutors have far more resources to throw at the case than the defendant. They can throw so much spam at any trial that it would take the defendant ten years of epic-level stress and tens/ hundreds of thousands of dollars to have a chance of achieving anything like justice. The prosecutors, who don't give a shit about justice as long as they can increase the number of notches on their briefcases, effectively bypass the courts by a process of "pleas-bargaining." This is where the defendant is given a choice between going to court (where he is guaranteed to get fucked over) or pleading guilty and throwing himself on the mercy of the judge who, if s/he's in a good mood, might let the guy off with just a few months or years in a 3rd-world standard shithole where he must tattoo his face with Nazi symbols and slogans just to survive. But hey, as long as the lucrative private prisons can increase their head count, it's all good, right?

Ah yes, America, where travellers are treated like suspected criminals, suspected criminals are treated like convicted criminals, convicted criminals are treated like sub-human scum and absolutely everybody is treated like a total idiot. Would somebody with no sense of irony please finish this post for me by talking about "the land of the free/ home of the brave"? Bonus points if you can work in "they hate us for our freedoms." Kthnxbai.

Re:Outward Appearances (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714751)

On one hand supporters want to say that he isn't a criminal because he wasn't convicted. The same group wants to say he was punished unfairly though he received no sentence. Contradiction.

Re:Outward Appearances (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714789)

Pffft. Try harder. He wasn't convicted, therefore, regardless of whether he was actually guilty or not, he is not a criminal. On the second point, the DA threatened to punish him. Those punishments were unfair.

There is no contradiction.

Re:Outward Appearances (3, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#42714865)

On one hand supporters want to say that he isn't a criminal because he wasn't convicted. The same group wants to say he was punished unfairly though he received no sentence. Contradiction.

Not at all. Being subjected to grossly exaggerated charges that only relate to your actual actions in the demented mind of a lunatic prosecutor, spending a fortune on lawyers, and living under the threat of bankruptcy AT BEST and at worst conviction with a monstrously disproportionate sentence--is most certainly punishment. You have to be a fucking sociopath to claim otherwise.

Re:Outward Appearances (1, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42714815)

AC has a point. Whether it be Swartz, or some lackwit from Outback, Nowhere - if you're going to challenge authority, you'd best be prepared for any consequences.

Swartz freely engaged in questionable activities, of his own free will. No matter what he believed to be right, he declared war on the status quo. He didn't just challenge Mommy's decision over to much television - he challenged an entrenched system, armed with legions of lawyers, tons of money, and buttloads of unscrupulous business people.

Swartz became a casualty because A: he couldn't imagine the forces that would brought to bear against him, and B: he was incapable of standing up to those forces.

MIT may be somewhat culpable, but only Swartz decided to kill himself.

I kinda like the guy. He was actually doing some good, I think. But - if a weak person decides to go one on two with a sumo wrestler and a professional boxer tag team, don't expect me to feel overly sorry for him when he gets pounded into a mudhole.

I agree, the system is sick, but Swartz isn't what I would call a hero or a martyr.

Re:Outward Appearances (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about a year ago | (#42715259)

Under your(extremely flawed) world view no one who isn't a millionaire *at least* several times over is capable of standing up to these goons.

The system is sick. Swartz isn't exactly a hero, but he has made himself a martyr because his only other option was attempting to flee the country, and his face had been too widely publicized to make that an option. He downloaded a ton of files he had been given legal right to access. No one ever said he couldn't download them all. He's been prosecuted for things that aren't even crimes. MIT even acknowledged that and MIT has a history of being vindictive about these types of crimes, if they are in fact "crimes".

Besides that, even if he had ran, where would he go? You can run as far as Canada and just stay there for murder charges a lot of times. You can run to Canada, The U.K., Germany... most any european country for murder crimes, rape charges, etc, and while they may end up extraditing you if you're found in that country, they will at least examine the charges and potentially fight on your behalf to keep you there.

Copyright infringement on the other hand... the RIAA and co just prosecute you in the country you go to, which usually constitutes being subjected to laws just as bad. You'll end up with some copyright conglomerate strong arming the local government into using its full authority against you. Its absolutely insane. The copyright conglomerates wield more international influence than any country in the world.

Re:Outward Appearances (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42715375)

I don't believe that I made any mention of wealth, did I? There are people who are crazy in the opposite direction. The harder you lean on them, the more you abuse them, the harder they fight.

Had Swartz been a little more - savvy is the term I guess - he would have foreseen that Corporate America would pull out their biggest guns to deal with him. Then, he could have intelligently decided whether the fight was worth it.

Jamie Thomason wasn't especially savvy, but she did fight the good fight. Single Mom takes on Corporate America. She lost, but at least she had fight in her.

A guy I work with has a saying, with which he mocks some of our coworkers: "Kieth sure has a lot of quit in him!" It applies to Mr. Swartz, I'm afraid. It doesn't apply to Ms. Thomason.

Re:Outward Appearances (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about a year ago | (#42715777)

No reasonable person would expect nuclear war to result from two ordinary cars from russia and the US crashing into each other with no fatalities.

This is something similar. He took things that he wanted to make free, as most(I believe all, but I could be missing something) of them aren't licensed with anything to prevent copying and distribution. The only thing preventing it is the only easily accessible copies are stored on that particular database. The retaliation of 20 years in jail for things that can only be considered crimes because the law as written is ridiculously broad.

Re:Outward Appearances (1)

nomadic (141991) | about a year ago | (#42715543)

Swartz isn't exactly a hero, but he has made himself a martyr because his only other option was attempting to flee the country

Or go to trial, or take the deal and spend a mere 6 months at Club Fed.

Re:Outward Appearances (5, Informative)

Harodotus (680139) | about a year ago | (#42714845)

I might add the Swartz was charged with 13 felonies, with a maximum sentence of 65 years in felony lockup, effectively life in prison. Murder, even multiple murders, has no more harsh a punishment (except in death penalty states).

You're point is valid, but it's, at best,a Type D "crime" being punished as a type A "the most harsh society can inflict" and might not even be a good civil suit for mild contract violation.

Lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715329)

I might add the Swartz was charged with 13 felonies, with a maximum sentence of 65 years in felony lockup

Wow, looking for a martyr? From this soruce [cnet.com]:

Those charges carried a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.

Today it's 65, tomorrow it's 75, soon it will be life in prison and lastly he will actually have been executed on a cross.

Re:Outward Appearances (3, Interesting)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#42716315)

You can't total up times that way. It isn't merely unlikely that he would have received such a sentence, it is impossible under federal sentencing guidelines. Saying that he faced a "maximum sentence of 65 years" is wrong, plain and simple. To put it differently, people who actually get 65 years usually face a maximum sentence of hundreds of years.

Swartz actually faced a maximum sentence of about three years. He had been offered a deal of six months in a minimum security prison by the prosecutor. Realistically, that's also about the maximum term a court would have imposed anyway.

Re:Outward Appearances (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#42714869)

While I agree with you, a system of law where "no physical damage to anyone" has the smallest punishment would be remarkably kind to my plan to steal the world's money with my ingenious Hollywood computer virus.

Re:Outward Appearances (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714893)

No, he deserved it and was, in fact, being treated quite mercifully. He was screwing with an international scientific, medical, and educational resource worldwide, and repeatedly knocking its servers offline. He *deserved* some jail time for that, just like somebody taking truckloads of sand home from a local levee should go to jail for putting people's lives and homes at risk in the next flood.

Re:Outward Appearances (1)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | about a year ago | (#42714967)

a) murder; b) physical damage to another person, c) physical damage to another's property, d) no physical damage to anyone.

You forgot e) victimless crimes, such as drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc.

Re:Outward Appearances (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about a year ago | (#42715043)

You forgot e) victimless crimes, such as drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc.

No, because those shouldn't be in a list of punishable offenses to begin with. ;-)

Re:Outward Appearances (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715405)

Drugs aren't a victimless crime if the family has to deal with it.

Re:Outward Appearances (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715819)

So why aren't lazy, messy, asshole, and poor financial skills crimes, too? My sister didn't feed the dog and I had to deal with it. What's her charge?

Re:Outward Appearances (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year ago | (#42716341)

Drugs may lead to crimes such as theft, in order to support the habit, and vandalism and battery if the user goes into a psychotic rage, or negligent homicide and property damage in the case of the drunk driver, but drugs alone shouldn't be criminal. Drinking is not a crime, DWI is. It is in any case a terrible approach to what may not be a problem at all, and where it is a problem, it may be better handled as a health issue, not an issue of moral failing. We have figured out that throwing the book at the insane is unproductive. In cases of drug habits that lead to problems, the family needs the help of an addiction center, not a jail cell.

Consider that Prohibition did not work. It was a popular idea, but it was the wrong answer to the wrong problem. The real problem was that changing technology in the late 1800s caused an across the board increase in alcoholic content in popular drinks. People who didn't change their drinking habits were having trouble staying sober, when before there was no problem. The last thing we needed to do about this problem was go all moralistic about it. We painted it up as personal failings, brought out the big stick of the law, and started the beatings. After a few decades of this approach utterly failing to solve the problem-- if anything, people were drinking even more than before, in part to spit on the Man's laws-- we came to our senses and gave up on Prohibition. We have yet to see the light on the War on Drugs.

Re:Outward Appearances (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714989)

I agree with you on the groupings above but what winds up happening is they throw in so many other charges on top of it. For example, you download one article, that's "one count" of the violation. Say the penalty for that is 1 day in jail and $100 fine. Now what happens if you do this to a million articles? How about conspiracy? Server crash - well that's obviously destruction of property (that Microsoft is never charged with) and you can also put damages on the time this server was unavailable for use. IT time to try to fix the problem, etc, etc. That's how it adds up and that's how it gets larger than if someone killed a person.

I don't have a way to make this more fair but this is just what happens in our legal system. After all, that's how they got Capone. Who cares if it's an open secret that he had so many people killed or how many dozens of laws he's broken - hey the guy didn't pay taxes, off with his head! That's where laws like these got their start - because prosecutors and police couldn't do their jobs right and find evidence to put away real criminals. Well, it's now ensnaring relatively innocent people like Swartz and I'm sure we're not far behind.

P.S. just a reminder that if you're convicted of a felony, there's a good chance you can't vote. So just look at the types of people who are being banned from voting since they're typically ones that are directly affected by the laws they now cannot change by voting in different people.

Re:Outward Appearances (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about a year ago | (#42715209)

I don't have a way to make this more fair

I think the solution is simple: it doesn't matter how many stuff you did at a level, if you get convicted, your total punishment cannot be more than the minimum punishment in the next level.

So, let's say 'c' had a minimum of 2 years in jail. Then 1 document downloaded or 1 million documents plus server crashes etc., the maximum punishment for your set of 'd' crimes should be 2 years (minus 1 second) tops. Got out of jail, committed another sequence of 'ds', and got caught? Another 2 years (minus 1s). And so on and so forth, for as long as you kept committing d-level crimes. And what if you committed a huge set of 'd' crimes, plus a single 'c', all grouped into a single prosecution? Then your punishment should be equal to two minimum 'cs' minimum up to that 'c' typical one plus one minimum 'c', both together limited to the minimum 'b'. Rinse, repeat. Any finally: after you're out of jail, any new conviction for old crimes in the same level you already were punished for could, at most, add be for the remaining time until you achieved that maximum (if you got 1.5 years jail time for a set of 'd', new charges for old 'ds' would only be able to add up to 6 months of new jail time, so that the total would still be below a c-minimum).

That'd keep things balanced. The only way to increase the punishment would be by changing the minimum next-level punishment. Absent that, no matter how much of a dick a prosecutor or a judge were, they'd be limited by the maximum punishment limit.

Re:Outward Appearances (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#42716275)

No. To a dispassionate and disinterested outside observer, someone was being punished much more harshly than whatever he deserved.

He hadn't been punished at all yet. He would likely have received a sentence somewhere between zero and six months. Federal sentencing guidelines wouldn't have allowed a maximum of more than three years. All of that is completely normal, both within the US and compared to other nations.

Re:Outward Appearances (1, Troll)

flonker (526111) | about a year ago | (#42714741)

To the dispassionate and disinterested outside observer, a mentally disturbed man committed suicide. The only one at fault is the mentally disturbed man.

I've long believed that suicide is nobody's fault except for the one who committed the act. However, I very much want to blame the DA for pushing him to commit suicide. I realize it's an emotional response, but there must be some basis in fact. At what point does provoking someone who then commits suicide become the moral and ethical responsibility of the provocateur?

I know I'm responding to a troll, but it hits upon an issue I've been thinking about for some time. It's well known how DAs threaten disproportionate punishments in order to get a plea bargain. And it's easy to see how this might get someone who was previously not seriously considering suicide to start doing so. Where should the line be drawn? Online/offline bullying? Threats of imprisonment? Threats of physical violence and/or torture? Or is it never someone else's fault?

Re:Outward Appearances (2)

nomadic (141991) | about a year ago | (#42715049)

It makes perfect sense to blame the DA for overreaching and harassing Swartz but not blame her for the suicide.

MIT is business (2)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#42714485)

MIT is all about producing people for business. The connection between business and MIT are obvious. MIT is not publicly funded according to what I've read, though there are arguments against or limiting that notion.

I think attendees at MIT need to do some soul searching of their own. MIT could be forced to close up if enough students decided to not enroll the next go-around. It's a tough choice because having MIT papers backing you makes one's future look brighter. But what about the larger picture? I hope they are considering it. Student protests should happen.

Re:MIT is business (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#42714543)

MIT is not publicly funded according to what I've read

Isn't most of MIT's total operating budget supported by federal research grants? Back when Kerry/Gore/O'Leary lead the effort to kill the Integral Fast Reactor, it was said that Kerry's motivation was to protect the hot fusion money coming into MIT (tens of millions per year).

Re:MIT is business (1)

TwineLogic (1679802) | about a year ago | (#42716077)

Yes. MIT operates the Lincoln Laboratory for the federal government, and uses those fund to support the university budget, too. This is similar to the Caltech situation in which Caltech's budget is taken out of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which they operate.

to much higher is business / keeps old stuff going (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714691)

to much higher edu is business / keeping old stuff going.

And that some times why there are so many filler classes old stuff from the past that forced to keep then alive.

piracy = theft ... so what ? (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about a year ago | (#42714571)

Yeah yeah so feckin-A byte-boyz are snot-nosed thieves ... exchanging **leased** software was theft then -- is theft now what's the difference? Do-the-crime ... do-the-time ... or cut-the-knot ... sucky-lot. The entire **point** of private property is to deny its enjoyment by anyone else but the owner. Self-centered bytebois have problems with that denial of amuzment ... too feckin-A bad. Deal with it, dead or alive.

Don't break into company computer rooms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714577)

Don't get your life ruined. Fair deal.

Re:Don't break into company computer rooms (2, Interesting)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#42714929)

Don't get your life ruined. Fair deal.

Where of course by "breaking in" you mean "opening an unlocked door" and by "company" you mean "a university with an open campus and extremely liberal access policies". I wonder if there are job openings in Carmen Ortiz's office?

He did trespass, and he deserved to be punished for it. A $100 fine, or maybe a small amount of community service in lieu.

He did commit some copyright violation, and although the amount of stuff downloaded was massive, he didn't do anything with it, and so the damages to JSTOR were non-existant. So for that one, maybe $1,00 fine, 100 or 200 hours of community service, and a suspended sentence.

Remember the Logan Airport "LED bomb scare", too (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42714667)

"Approximately 30 students gathered yesterday afternoon to protest the administration’s handling of controversies involving students. While the majority of the protest was focused on the Star A. Simpson ’10 arrest, the discussion also touched on administrative reactions to the sodium fire on the Charles River and the felony charges filed against hackers found in the MIT Faculty Club.

The protest, which took place outside of Pritchett Dining in Walker Memorial, consisted of students carrying signs such as “Question the Media,” “Wait for the Facts,” and “Support Your Student.” Students also carried a protest letter that had been circulated across the campus."

http://tech.mit.edu/V127/N41/protest.html

MIT did nothing wrong (3, Insightful)

TheMathemagician (2515102) | about a year ago | (#42715073)

They detected an intruder illegally breaking into their network and worked with the authorities to catch the perpetrator in the act. What happened afterwards is not MIT's fault. If you decide to "stick it to the man" then be prepared for some blowback.

Re:MIT did nothing wrong (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715317)

MIT would not do a plea deal and wanted him to go to prison instead, unlike JSTOR. You know nothing.

Re:MIT did nothing wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716405)

That's a ridiculous statement. MIT has no say in what deals the prosecutor offers the perpetrator.

Re:MIT did nothing wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716257)

I always expect a blow back after I stick it to a man.

Something wrong with this DA's office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42715239)

This appears to be a pattern with this DA's office; see the recent case of the Motel Caswell:

http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/01/triumphant_motel_owner_slams_carmen_ortiz
http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/01/ortiz_motel_owner_we%E2%80%99re_not_done_yet

Note that:

* There was/is more crime at the Home Depot, Motel 6 and Wal-Mart on the same street and less then 1/4 mile away
* Tewksbury did not request the forfeiture of the Caswell
* Caswell is privately owned with no Mortgage

Why did the DA's office step in and try to cease the property?

Based on these two cases it appears this DA's office likes to beat up overly aggressively on the little guy who can't defend themselves as easily.
Why? Maybe people in the department have political aspirations? Does prosecution stats help them at all? This makes no sense to me.

The best part -- Ortiz easily lost the Caswell case but actually had the gall to talk about appeal! Ortiz needs to be removed.

BitTorrent in 1994 (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year ago | (#42715707)

The author of the LaMacchia Loophole seems to think BitTorrent existed in 1994. The BitTorrent protocol was designed in 2001. May be the author thinks BitTorrent is a generic term for downloading stuff.

Ortiz made an example outta Swartz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716013)

Time to make an example outta her, the stupid power-hungry political climbing CUNT that she is: That's all, pretty simple.

---

Swartz didn't face prison until feds took over case, report says:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57565927-38/swartz-didnt-face-prison-until-feds-took-over-case-report-says/ [cnet.com]

---

* It's funny - you see the savings & loan scandal SCUMBAGS get away with all the crap they did, same with hedge fund scammers who burned 1,000's of unionized construction workers too...

I think people have had QUITE ENOUGH of assholes with ca$h pulling their shit at the expense of the rest of us, money-wise, but when it comes to someone's LIFE being taken?

Enough, is enough... see above - they want to make examples? Tit for tat - give their "kind" (the biggest TRASH there is) a dose of their OWN medicine...

APK

P.S.=> I absolutely "HATE" their kind, like you all have NO IDEA - they are trash, ruining our society, like cancer (slowing, by draining the life & WILL out of the people, not just our monies)...

... apk

Friends do not let friends attend MIT (2)

TwineLogic (1679802) | about a year ago | (#42716025)

After these events, what American in their right mind would attend MIT? I say leave that musty institution to foreigners. Let it rot.

Re:Friends do not let friends attend MIT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42716499)

The new hiring method at many engineering companies is for the entire job group to interview the potential job candidate, and I personally won't give MIT grads a good review.

University as Sanctuary (1, Insightful)

C0L0PH0N (613595) | about a year ago | (#42716047)

The University system should provide Sanctuary for its students. It takes the most brilliant and promising children of each generation, and takes the best of them to the frontiers of human knowledge, and encourages and teaches them to push and develop these frontiers. This is one of the highest callings of the University system. This also gives the Universities a great responsibility -- to protect those young bright minds who are going boldly where none has gone before. They need to provide Sanctuary for these students, to have their back when they push the boundaries of our society. This does not cover murder or other violent sociopathic acts. But it should protect students from most of the reckless overreaching laws, and especially in all gray areas of our society. Rather than give students up for minor unlawful activities, the University system should give them Sanctuary. When they do give them up, they break this Sanctuary promise to their students. They teach them and encourage them to the frontiers of our society, and then betray them when they give them up to local (or federal) gendarmes.

I call on ALL University administrators to develop proactive policies of Sanctuary, which should include refusing EVER to give up students for minor or gray area "crimes". They should at the very least, refuse all cooperation with police agents, and at the best, provide a defense for students. But NEVER break your moral contract with the students you teach, by turning them over to outside law. This policy can include ejecting students who break University laws. But it should never extend further than sanctions or expulsions. The University systems should develop a non-cooperation understanding with all police forces. Exceptions only would include violent sociopathic crimes such as rape, murder, violent assault, bombings, etc. But the University should be a Sanctuary for non-violent crimes where the student (or faculty for that matter) is pushing the boundaries of society.

This awesome article at New York University, The University as Sanctuary [nyu.edu], says it more powerfully and elegantly than I ever could.
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