Aaron Swartz was Murdered

Aaron Swartz killed himself after the sudden realization he was a "macfag."

Murderers of Aaron Swartz tried to disguise his death as a suicide.

NEW YORK — After reports of Aaron Swartz’s apparent suicide circulated around the Internet this weekend, investigators found evidence of foul play. A former architect of Reddit, the online forum scandalized earlier this year by child pornography and “creepshots,” Aaron Swartz was widely known for his contributions to anti-copyright activism after stealing millions of files from MIT.

Hackers from Anonymous released a statement on Sunday, “Heavy-handed prosecutors raped the beautiful mind of Aaron Swartz. He later ‘killed himself.’ Are the draconian copyright laws selectively applied to those who threaten the inertia of entrenched power? Certainly. Will they use their sockpuppets and judicial torture system to make YOU kill yourself too? Of course. Will they kill you if you go too far?”

Chronicle Reporters also questioned Julian Assange, sick from months of exile in the Ecuadorean embassy, about the death of Aaron Swartz. “I am not convinced that Aaron Swartz was such a coward he committed suicide due to fear of prison,” said Mr. Assange. “Read his words, and decide for yourself, but I believe Swartz was murdered by a team of copyright assassins who made it all look like a simple suicide. Watch what you say, or you may end up like Aaron Swartz.”

Swartz gave a talk in 2008, mentioning his intention to ” download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks.”

Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.

There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.

That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.

“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal — there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back.

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.

Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.

With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?

Aaron Swartz
July 2008, Eremo, Italy

14 comments to Aaron Swartz was Murdered

  • Caspin

    Certainly he was murdered. Michael Hastings was murdered. David Kelly was murdered. WE are all awakening to the real dark and horrific depths of our government’s workings. And it’s traumatic.

  • America Censored

    He would NOT have committed suicide. Therefore, I believe he was murdered.

    That’s what the mafia families of the world do — it was just more fun this time.

    Sometimes they like to give you life in prison like Bradley Manning just got.

    BUT if you know the wrong people, you can get away with ANYTHING.

  • Katia Leitao

    I came accross this article, simply because I googled ‘Aaron Swartz murdered?’
    IO seemed to be the only person questioning his suicide…
    I am amazed that Julian Assange is, apparently, at elast so far, teh only person to think teh same, and to say it.

    I cannot believ that teh boy woudl kill himself, and find it particularly strange taht noone qiuestioned this. It is as if his family were intimidated enough not to make suggestions…

    But in any suicide one wonders.

    I was listening to a former CIA whistleblower, a lady directly involved with 9/11, Susan Lindouer, on youtube the other day, and she was telling how her flat had been totally bugged, that accidentally due to a flood or some reason for the fall of a ceiling, the electrician that came around found what he thought was her music system throughout the whole house.

    That is, she had been bugged. Her whole place had been invaded and this system set up. And she had not noticed it.

    How easy would it be to just hang Aaron?

    I suppose we will never know the truth but the question ought to be put there. He was persecuted enough, and it would be very convenient, to avoid noise, to just get rid of him.

    It is legal to shoot down enemies of the state. This is just a shortcut from there no?

    Just a possible view…

  • Hi There Chronicle,
    I just stumbled across this and, Do you think 35 years and a million dollar fine was fair punishment for downloading JSTOR docs onto his laptop ? And do you think JSTOR should be available freely to the public ? And how do you feel about the outrageous price it charges for journals ?
    Wishes
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  • drip

    ssh!

    we all know it was George Carlin who was murdered.