This is a peculiar bit of press on the Aaron Swartz case. Given that, from what I’ve read, Larry Lessig’s comments in the press have been very careful, it’s interesting to read this headline. Is it the NYTimes making this connection just because Aaron worked in Larry’s center, or has Larry been blogging about this/quoted about this in such a way as to suggest common cause here? Aaron Swartz’s Web Activism May Cost Him Dearly [pdf]
Like the penny opportunist, Mr. Swartz was invited to sample the wares of the nonprofit online collection Jstor, and he interpreted that invitation quite expansively. Using a program that automatically paged through each issue of more than 1,300 journals, he was able to methodically download their contents, making a copy of almost everything in the collection.
Yet this episode is hardly a joke. Mr. Swartz was arrested last week in Boston on a series of felony counts including wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer. If convicted on all counts, the Justice Department said he could face up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.
A dream no longer deferred: content providers now get to be their own judge and jury for alleged copyright infringement. And an emerging communications lifeline is now subject to judgments by ISPs that used to be considered part of the judicial domain: To Slow Piracy, Internet Providers Ready Penalties [pdf]
The companies took pains to say that the agreement did not oblige Internet providers to shut down a repeat offender’s account, and that the system of alerts was meant to be “educational.” But they noted that carriers would retain their right to cut off any user who violated their terms of service.
In bringing together the media companies and Internet carriers, the deal demonstrates how the once-clear line separating those two businesses has been blurred. Eight years ago, the Recording Industry Association of America had to sue Verizon to try to uncover the identity of a customer who was sharing music online. This year, Comcast completed its merger with NBC, bringing an owner of digital content and a conduit for it under the same roof.
Now the Internet providers are hoping to profit as they pipe music and video of the nonpirated variety to their customers.
“The I.S.P.’s want to cooperate with Hollywood because the carriers recognize that their own growth depends in part on bundled content strategies,” said Eric Garland of BigChampagne, which tracks online media traffic. “They don’t want to be just utilities providing Internet access, but premium content distributors as well.”
A tragic allegory for the current climate in the US for so many things; surveillance, war-making, etc. As David Malki! points out, “The Revolution Will Not Be Telegraphed.”