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The Internet's Own Boy 194

theodp (442580) writes "The Internet's Own Boy, the documentary about the life and death of Aaron Swartz, was appropriately released on the net as well as in theaters this weekend, and is getting good reviews from critics and audiences. Which is kind of remarkable, since the Achilles' heel of this documentary, as critic Matt Pais notes in his review, is that "everyone on the other side of this story, from the government officials who advocated for Swartz's prosecution to Swartz's former Reddit colleagues to folks at MIT, declined participation in the film." Still, writer/director Brian Knappenberger manages to deliver a compelling story, combining interesting footage with interviews from Swartz's parents, brothers, girlfriends, and others from his Internet projects/activism who go through the stages of joy, grief, anger, and hope that one sees from loved ones at a wake. "This remains an important David vs. Goliath story," concludes Pais, "of a remarkable brain years ahead of his age with the courage and will to fight Congress-and a system built to impede, rather than encourage, progress and common sense. The Internet's Own Boy will upset you. As it should." And Quinn Norton, who inadvertently gave the film its title ("He was the Internet's own boy," Quinn said after Swartz's death, "and the old world killed him."), offers some words of advice for documentary viewers: "Your ass will be in a seat watching a movie. When it is done, get up, and do something.""
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The Internet's Own Boy

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  • by Jjeff1 ( 636051 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @08:45AM (#47349243)
  • Re:His choices... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @09:01AM (#47349321)

    Much of the data is free and available elsewhere. All the public domain content, in fact is freely accessible.

    What JSTOR especially provides, and part of what Aaron was reaping wholesale, was its organization and links, basically the indexing and cross-indexing. _That_ is what makes JSTOR so useful, and what people pay JSTOR for: the breadth and searchability of the data. JSTOR is already a non-profit agency, whose fees are quite reasonable for the service they provide. And Aaron kept _breaking_ parts of JSTOR by downloading too much too fast, and overwhelming the servers.

    Activism, or hacktivism, is one thing. Breaking critical research tools for millions of customers worldwide is abuse, and clearly criminal in several ways. I'm afraid that Aaron earned prosecution. The extent of the prosecution seems severe, but as best I can tell, the prosecutors were quite willing to "deal" for a a very low sentence, as long as the deal included a felony conviction. I'm afraid that that haggling over the charges and the sentence is _normal_ for prosecutors.

  • Re:Internet bullies (Score:4, Informative)

    by twdorris ( 29395 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @09:33AM (#47349563)

    First, that 13 year old girl was bullied on My Space, not Facebook. Prosecutors tried to go after her, but ultimately she was acquitted of the main felony charge anyway. So maybe nobody is going after the "bullies" in this case because they know better. If they can't even get a 3-year sentence to stick on an "uneducated, immature soccer mom", what chance do they have against high ranking officials that will be even harder to pin down anyway? Seems like a good call to me.

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @09:37AM (#47349601)

    The EFF has a whole list [] of cases, most of which are way more important for the rest of us than the Schwartz case would have been.

  • Re:His choices... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2014 @10:49AM (#47350191)

    The feds threat was six months, not 10+ years.

    On September 12, 2012, federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment adding nine more felony counts, which increased Swartz's maximum criminal exposure to 50 years of imprisonment and $1 million in fines.[12][84][85] During plea negotiations with Swartz's attorneys, the prosecutors offered to recommend a sentence of six months in a low-security prison, if Swartz would plead guilty to 13 federal crimes. Swartz and his lead attorney rejected that deal, opting instead for a trial in which prosecutors would have been forced to justify their pursuit of Swartz

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court