The Passing of Aaron Schwartz

Aaron Schwartz committed suicide, but there were so many "partners" to this event. I don't know why intellectual property should warrant the witch hunt that followed Aaron. There are certainly other much larger intellectual property thefts that warrant prosecution. But you wouldn't know it by the pit bull antics applied in Aaron's case.  Does it really matter that one of those official  "probe into the death of......" investigations is now underway. In the words of one of those famous SNL Characters, "well isn't that special".

Intellectual Property is the hot new cyber-crime. Has been for awhile. Billions are at stake around the world. Nations armed with stealthy "Net Burglars" have been stealing intellectual property left and right. If "Les Miserables" opened nationwide today, somebody somewhere has been selling it on the street for the last month. Which leads us into the sphere of Open Access. There is a certain idealism that springs up, particularly in youth, that righteously believes in the inherent freedom of things. (I know, go figure) Particularly as it relates to ideas, knowledge, and even education. The assumption is that the inherent "fair play" of life will allow for all of these to be available to the masses. However, ultimately what this idealism runs into is the giant screwdriver of reality. And in Aaron's case his ideals and efforts transformed his life into a bad Greek Tragedy. Journal publishing, ownership and the commercial stranglehold that publishers hold over educational institutions is a disaster. The long arm of the intellectual property police didn't see fit to attack the main characters in this sad comedy. Nor does it appear that MIT took the brave stance of standing alongside Aaron. Aaron came into the sights of his adversaries and he was, essentially, alone. 

As we know, committing suicide is never the answer to life's problems. We're all aware of what this does to families and friends. And I don't want to portray this all as David vs. Goliath. How many times do we discover intangibles which were never revealed, inside stuff we never know about. Who knows the demons that were running around in Aaron's life. Maybe committing suicide came from someplace completely apart from his legal troubles.

But this much we do know. Aaron's battles reveal the true culprits are still very much at-large and on the loose. 

 

Alonzo LaMont

alonzo@jhmi.edu


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