Prosecutorial Overreach for Download of 4.8 Million Articles?

15 January 2013 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Author(s): Peter Vogel

With the recent death of accused Aaron Swartz there will be no trial to determine whether Mr. Swartz violated federal wire laws by downloading 4.8 million articles and documents from JSTOR at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the meantime the National Law Journal is questioning whether the government’s actions were prosecutorial overreach brought by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. They quote Ms. Ortiz:

Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data, or dollars,...It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.

In the meantime Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig, one of Swartz’s friends and attorney referred to the "Prosecutor as bully" and added these comments: 

The government, …worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way....our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.

Notwithstanding how the government pursued Mr. Swartz we will now never know how a jury would have responded, my question remains, why were charges never filed for Copyright Infringement?

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