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The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

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    [quote on screen]
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    The cofounder of the social, news,
    and entertainment website "Reddit"
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    has been found dead.
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    He certainly was a prodigy,
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    although he never thought
    of himself like that.
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    He was totally unexcited
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    about starting businesses
    and making money.
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    There is a profound sense of loss
    tonight in Highland Park,
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    Aaron Swartz's hometown
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    as loved ones say goodbye
    to one of the Internet's brightest lights.
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    Freedom, Open Access, and computer
    activists are mourning his loss.
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    "An astonishing intellect," if you talk
    to people who knew him.
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    He was killed by the Government, and
    MIT betrayed all of its basic principles.
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    They wanted to make
    an example out of him. Okay?
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    Governments have insatiable
    desire to control.
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    He was potentially facing 35 years
    in prison and a 1-million-dollar fine.
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    Raising questions to prosecutorial zeal,
    and I would say even 'misconduct.'
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    Have you looked into that particular
    matter and reached any conclusions?
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    Growing up, you know,
    I slowly had this process realizing
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    that all the things around me
    that people had told me
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    were just the natural way of things were,
    or the way things would be,
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    they weren't natural at all.
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    There were things that could be changed.
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    And there were things, more importantly,
    were wrong and should change.
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    And once I realized that,
    there was really kind of no going back.
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    Welcome to story reading time.
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    The name of the book
    is "Paddington at the Fair."
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    He was born in Highland Park
    and grew up here.
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    Aaron came from a family of three
    brothers, all extraordinarily bright.
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    "...Oh the box is tipping over..."
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    [Boys screaming]
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    So, we were all, you know,
    not the best behaved children.
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    You know, three boys, running
    around all the time, causing trouble...
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    "Hey, no, no, no!"
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    - Aaron!
    - What?
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    But I've come to the realization Aaron
    learned how to learn at a very young age.
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    "One, two, three, four, five,
    six, seven, eight, nine, ten!"
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    - Knock, knock!
    - Who's there?
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    - Aaron.
    - Aaron who?
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    - Aaron Funnyman.
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    He knew what he wanted
    and he always wanted to do it.
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    He always accomplished what he wanted.
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    His curiosity was endless.
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    "Here's a little picture of what the planets are. Each planet has a symbol.
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    Mercury symbol, Venus's symbol, Earth symbol, Mars symbol, Jupiter symbol..."
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    One day, he said to Susan, "What's this free family entertainment in downtown Highland Park?"
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    "Free family entertainment in downtown Highland Park"
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    He was three at that time.
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    She said, "What are you talking about?"
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    He said, "Look, it says here on the refrigerator."
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    "Free family entertainment in downtown Highland Park"
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    She was floored, and astonished that he could read.
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    It's called "My Family Seder."
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    "The Seder night is different from all other nights."
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    I remember once, we were at the University of Chicago library.
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    I pulled a book off the shelf that was from like 1900,
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    And showed him saying "this is just a really extraordinary place."
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    We all were curious children, but Aaron really liked learning and really liked teaching.
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    "...We're going to learn the ABC backward."
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    "Z, Y, X, W, V, U, T..."
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    I remember, he came home from his first Algebra class
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    and he was like, "Noah, let me teach you Algebra!"
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    and I'm like, "What IS Algebra?"
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    He was always like that.
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    "Now you press the click button. There. Now it's got that."
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    "Now it's in pink."
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    When he was about two or three years old, and Bob introduced him to computers.
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    Then he just took off like crazy on them.
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    [Baby talk]
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    We all had computers, but Aaron really took to them, really took to the Internet.
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    - Working at the computer?
    - Nah...
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    "How come... Mommy, why is nothing working?"
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    He started programming from a really young age.
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    I remember the first program that I wrote with him was in BASIC
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    and it was a Star Wars trivia game.
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    He sat down with me in the basement, where the computer was
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    for hours programming this game.
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    The problem that I kept having with him was there was nothing that I wanted done,
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    but to him, there was always something to do.
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    Always something that programming can solve.
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    The way Aaron always saw it is that programming is magic.
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    You can accomplish these things that normal humans can't.
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    Aaron made an ATM using Macintosh and a cardboard box.
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    One year for Halloween, I didn't know what I wanted to be.
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    And he thought it would be really really cool if I dressed up like his new favorite computer,
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    which at that time, the original iMac.
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    I mean, he hated dressing up for Halloween, but he loved convincing other people
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    to dress up in things he wanted to see.
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    "Host Aaron, stop, guys, come on, look at the camera!"
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    "Spiderman looks at the Camera."
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    He made this website called "The Info," where people can just fill in information.
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    I'm sure someone out there know all about gold, gold leafing.
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    Why don't they write about that on this website. And other people can come at later point,
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    read that information and edit the information if they though it was bad.
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    Not too dissimilar from Wikipedia, right?
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    And this was before Wikipedia had begun, and this was developed by a 12-year-old
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    in his room, by himself, running on this tiny server using ancient technology.
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    And one of the teachers' response was like,
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    "This is a terrible idea. You can't just let anyone author the encyclopedia.
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    The whole reason we have scholars is to write these books for us.
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    How could you ever have such a terrible idea?"
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    Me and my other brother were like, "Aw, you know, Wikipedia is cool, but...
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    we had that in our house like, 5 years ago."
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    Aaron's website, theinfo.org, wins a school competition
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    hosted by the Cambridge-based web design firm ArsDigita.
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    We all went to Cambridge when he won the ArsDigita prize
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    and we had no clue what Aaron was doing.
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    It was obvious that the prize was really important.
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    Aaron soon became involved with online programming communities,
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    then in the process of shaping
    a new tool for the Web.
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    He comes up to me and is like, "Ben, there's this
    really awesome thing that I'm working on."
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    "You need to hear about it!"
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    "Yeah, what is it?"
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    "It's this thing called RSS."
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    And he explains to me what RSS is.
    I'm like, "Why is that useful, Aaron?"
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    "Is any site using it?
    Why would I want to use it?"
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    There was this mailing list for people who are
    working on RSS, and XML more generally,
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    and there was a person on it named
    Aaron Swartz who was combative but very smart,
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    and who had lots of good ideas, and
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    he didn't ever come to the
    face-to-face meetings, and they said,
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    "You know, when are you gonna come out
    to one of these face-to-face meetings?"
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    And he said, "You know, I don't think
    my mom would let me. I've just turned fourteen."
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    And so their first reaction was: "Well, this person,
    this colleague we've been working with all year
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    was thirteen years old while we were
    working with him, and he's only fourteen now."
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    And their second reaction was:
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    "Christ, we really want to meet him.
    That's extraordinary!"
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    He was part of the committee that drafted RSS.
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    What he was doing was to help build
    the plumbing for modern hypertext.
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    The piece that he was working on, RSS,
    was a tool that you can use to get summaries
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    of things that are going on on other web pages.
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    Most commonly, you would use this for a blog.
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    You might have 10 or 20 people's blogs you wanna read.
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    You use their RSS feeds, these summaries of
    what's going on on those other pages
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    to create a unified list of all the stuff that's going on.
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    Aaron was really young, but he understood
    the technology and he saw that it was imperfect
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    and looked for ways to help make it better.
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    So his mom started bundling him on planes in Chicago. We'd pick him up in San Francicso.
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    We'd introduce him to interesting people to argue with, and we'd marvel at his horrific eating habits.
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    He only ate white food, only like steamed rice and not fried rice 'cause that wasn't sufficiently white
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    and white bread, and so on...
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    and you kind of marveled at the quality of the debate emerging from this,
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    what appeared to be a small boy's mouth,
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    and you'd think, this is a kid that's really going to get somewhere if he doesn't die of scurvy.
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    Aaron, you're up!
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    I think the difference is that now you can't make companies like dotcoms.
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    You can't have companies that just sell dog food over the Internet, or sell dog food over cell phones.
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    But there's still a lot of innovation going on.
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    I think that maybe if you don't see the innovation, maybe your head is in the sand.
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    He takes on this, like an alpha nerd personality, where he's
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    sort of like, "I'm smarter than you, and because I'm smarter than you, I'm better than you,
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    and I can tell you what to do."
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    It's an extension of, like, him being kind of like a twerp.
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    So you aggregate all these computers together and now they're solving big problems
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    like searching for aliens and trying to cure cancer.
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    I first met him on IRC, on Internet Relay Chat.
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    He didn't just write code, he also got people excited about solving problems he got.
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    He was a connector.
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    The free culture movement has had a lot of his energy.
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    I think Aaron was trying to make the world work. He was trying to fix it.
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    He had a very kind of strong personality that definitely ruffled feathers at times.
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    It wasn't necesarily the case that he was always comfortable in the world
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    and the world wasn't always comfortable with him.
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    Aaron got into high school and was really just sick of school.
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    He didn't like it. He didn't like any of the classes that were being taught. He didn't like the teachers.
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    Aaron really knew, like, how to get information.
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    He was like, "I don't need to go to this teacher to learn how to do geometry.
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    I can just read the geometry book,
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    and I don't need to go to this teacher to learn their version of American history,
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    I have, like, three historical compilations here, I could just read them,
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    and I'm not interested in that. I'm interested in the Web."
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    I was very frustrated with school. I thought the teachers didn't know what they were talking about,
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    and they were domineering and controlling, and the homework was kind of a sham,
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    and it was all just like all about a way to pen students all together and force them to do busywork.
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    And, you know, I started reading books about the history of education
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    and how this educational system was developed,
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    and, you know, alternatives to it and ways that people could actually learn things
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    as opposed to just regurgitating facts that teachers told them,
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    and that kind of led me down this path of questioning things, once I questioned the school I was in,
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    I questioned the society that built the school, I questioned the businesses that the schools were training people for,
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    I questioned the government that set up this whole structure.
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    One of the thing he was most passionate about was copyright, especially in those early days.
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    Copyright has always been something of a burden on the publishing industry and on readers,
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    but it wasn't an excessive burden. It was a reasonable institution to have in place
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    to make sure that people got paid.
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    What Aaron's generation experienced was the collision between this antique copyright system
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    and this amazing new thing we were trying to build--the Internet and the Web.
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    These things collided, and what we got was chaos.
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    He then met Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig,
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    who was then challenging copyright law in the Supreme Court.
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    A young Aaron Swartz flew to Washington to listen to the Supreme Court hearings.
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    I am Aaron Swartz and I'm here to listen to the Eldred--to see the Eldred argument.
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    Why did you fly out here from Chicago, and come all this way to see the Eldred argument?
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    That's a more difficult question...
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    I don't know. It's very exciting to see the Supreme Court,
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    especially in such a prestigious case as this one.
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    Lessig was also moving forward with a new way to define copyright on the Internet.
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    It was called Creative Commons.
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    So the simple idea of Creative Commons is to give people--creators--
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    a simple way to mark their creativity with the freedoms they intended to carry.
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    So if copyright is all about "All Rights Reserved", then this is a kind of a "Some Rights Reserved" model.
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    I want a simple way to say to you, "Here's what you can do with my work,
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    even if there are other things which you need to get my permission before you could do."
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    And Aaron's role was the computer part.
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    Like, how do you architect the licenses so they'll be simple and understandable
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    and expressed in a way so that machines can process it?
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    And people were like, "Why do you have this fifteen-year-old kid writing the specifications for Creative Commons?
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    Don't you think that's a huge mistake?"
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    And Larry is like, "The biggest mistake we would have done is not listening to this kid."
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    He barely is not even tall enough to even get over the podium,
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    and it was this movable podium so it was this embarrassing thing,
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    where once he put his screen up nobody could see his face.
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    When you come to our website here, and you go to "Choose License".
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    It gives you this list of options, it explains what it means, and you've got three simple questions:
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    "Do you want to require attribution?"
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    "Do you want to allow commercial uses of your work?"
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    "Do you want to allow modifications of your work?"
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    I was floored, just completely flabbergasted that these adults regarded him as an adult,
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    and Aaron stood up there in front of a whole audience full of people, and just started talking
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    about the platform that he'd created for Creative Commons,
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    and they were all listening to him, just...
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    I was sitting at the back, thinking: he's just a kid, why are they listening to him?
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    But they did...
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    Well, I don't think I comprehended it fully.
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    Though critics have said it does little to ensure artists get paid for their work,
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    the success of Creative Commons has been enormous.
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    Currently on the website Flickr alone, over 200 million people use some form of Creative Commons license.
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    He contributed through his technical abilities, and yet it was not simply a technical matter to him.
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    Aaron often wrote candidly in his personal blog:
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    I think deeply about things, and I want others to do likewise.
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    I work for ideas and learn from people. I don't like excluding people.
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    I'm a perfectionist, but I won't let that get in the way of publication.
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    Except for education and entertainment, I'm not going to waste my time
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    on things that won't have an impact.
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    I try to be friends with everyone, but I hate it when you don't take me seriously.
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    I don't hold grudges, it's not productive, but I learn from my experience.
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    I want to make the world a better place.
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    In 2004, Swartz leaves Highland Park and enrolls in Stanford University.
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    He'd had ulcerative colitis which was very troubling, and we were concerned about him taking his medication.
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    He got hospitalized and he would take this cocktail of pills every day,
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    and one of those pills was a steroid which stunted his growth,
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    and made him feel different from any of the other students.
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    Aaron, I think, shows up at Stanford ready to do scholarship
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    and finds himself in effectively a babysitting program for overachieving high-schoolers
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    who in four years are meant to become captains of industry and one-percenters
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    and I think it just made him bananas.
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    In 2005, after only one year of college,
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    Swartz was offered a spot at a new start-up incubation firm called Y Combinator, lead by Paul Graham.
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    He's like, "Hey, I have this idea for a website."
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    And Paul Graham likes him enough, and says, "Yeah, sure."
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    So Aaron drops out of school, moves to this apartment...
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    So this used to be Aaron's apartment when he moved here.
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    I have vague memories of my father telling me how difficult it was to get a lease
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    'cause Aaron had no credit and he dropped out of college.
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    Aaron lived in what's now the living room and some of the posters are leftover from when Aaron lived here.
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    And then the library...there are more books, but a lot of them are Aaron's.
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    Aaron's Y Combinator site was called "infogami", a tool to build websites.
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    But infogami struggles to find users, and Swartz eventually
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    merges his company with another Y Combinator project in need of help.
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    It was a project headed by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, called "Reddit".
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    There we were, starting from almost nothing. No users, no money, no code,
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    and growing day by day into a hugely popular website,
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    And it showed no signs of letting up.
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    First we had 1000 users, then 10000, then 20000 and on, and on...It was just incredible.
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    Reddit becomes huge and it's a real sort of geeky corner of the Internet.
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    There's a lot of humor, there's a lot of art, and there's just people who flock to the site,
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    and make that site the main site they go to every morning to get their news.
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    reddit kind of just borders on chaos at some levels,
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    so on the one hand it's a place where people discuss news of the day, technology, politics and issues,
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    and yet there is a lot of kind of Not Safe For Work material, offensive material,
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    there are some sub-reddits where trolls find a welcome home,
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    and so, in that sense reddit has been kind of home to controversy, as well.
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    It kind of sits on that edge of chaos.
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    reddit catches the attention of the corporate magazine giant Condé Nast,
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    who makes an offer to buy the company.
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    Some large amount of money, large enough that my dad was getting bugged with questions
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    about like: "How do I store this money?"
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    - Like a lot of money...
    - Like a lot of money.
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    Like probably more than a million dollars, but I don't actually know.
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    - And he's how old at the time?
    - 19, 20.
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    So it was in this apartment. They sat around
    on what predated these couches,
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    hacking on Reddit, and when they sold Reddit
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    they threw a giant party, and then all flew
    out to California the next day,
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    and left the keys with me.
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    It was funny, you know, he'd just sold his start-up so we all presumed
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    he was the richest person around
  • 20:29 - 20:34
    but he said, "Oh no, I'll take this tiny little
    shoebox-sized room. That's all I need."
  • 20:34 - 20:36
    It was barely larger than a closet.
  • 20:36 - 20:42
    The idea of him spending his money on
    fancy objects just seemed so implausible.
  • 20:42 - 20:48
    He explains it as, "I like living in apartments so I'm not going to spend a lot of money on a new place to live. I'm not gonna buy a mansion,
  • 20:48 - 20:50
    and I like wearing jeans and a T-shirt,
  • 20:50 - 20:52
    so I'm not going to spend any more money on clothes.
  • 20:52 - 20:55
    So it's really no big deal."
  • 20:55 - 20:58
    What is a big deal to Swartz is how traffic
    flows on the internet,
  • 20:58 - 21:01
    and what commands our attention.
  • 21:01 - 21:04
    In the old system of broadcasting, you're
    fundamentally limited by the amount of
  • 21:04 - 21:09
    space in the airwaves. You could only send out ten channels over the airwaves, television
  • 21:09 - 21:11
    or even with cable, you had 500 channels.
  • 21:11 - 21:15
    On the Internet, everybody can have a channel.
    Everyone can get a blog, or a MySpace page.
  • 21:15 - 21:18
    Everyone has a way of expressing themselves.
  • 21:18 - 21:21
    What you see now is not a question of who gets
    access to the airwaves,
  • 21:21 - 21:25
    it's a question of who gets control over the
    ways you find people.
  • 21:25 - 21:29
    You know, you start seeing power centralizing in sites like Google, theses sort of gatekeepers that tell you
  • 21:29 - 21:31
    where on the internet you want to go.
  • 21:31 - 21:34
    The people who provide you your sources of news and information.
  • 21:34 - 21:38
    So it's not only certain people have a license to speak, now everyone has
  • 21:38 - 21:41
    a license to speak. It's a question of who gets heard.
  • 21:45 - 21:50
    After he started working in San Francisco
    at Condé Nast, he comes into the office
  • 21:50 - 21:54
    and they want to give him a computer with all
    this crap installed on it
  • 21:54 - 21:57
    and say he can't install any new things
    on this computer,
  • 21:57 - 21:59
    which to developers is outrageous.
  • 21:59 - 22:02
    From the first day, he was complaining
    about all the stuff.
  • 22:05 - 22:11
    "Gray walls, gray desks, gray noise. The first
    day I showed up here, I simply couldn't take it.
  • 22:11 - 22:15
    By lunchtime, I had literally locked myself
    in a bathroom stall and started crying.
  • 22:15 - 22:18
    I can't imagine staying sane with someone
    buzzing in my ear all day
  • 22:18 - 22:21
    Let alone getting any actual work done.
  • 22:21 - 22:24
    Nobody else seems to get work done here either
  • 22:24 - 22:27
    Everybody's always coming into our room to
    hang out and chat, or invite us to play
  • 22:27 - 22:30
    the new video game system that Wired is testing."
  • 22:32 - 22:38
    He really had different aspirations that were politically-oriented,
  • 22:38 - 22:42
    and Silicon Valley just doesn't really quite have that culture
  • 22:42 - 22:47
    that orients technical activity for the purposes of political goals.
  • 22:47 - 22:50
    Aaron hated working for a corporation.
  • 22:50 - 22:53
    They all hate working for Condé Nast, but Aaron
    is the only one who is not going to take it.
  • 22:53 - 22:56
    And Aaron basically gets himself fired.
  • 22:56 - 22:58
    By not showing up to work, ever.
  • 23:01 - 23:05
    It was said to be a messy breakup.
    Both Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman
  • 23:05 - 23:08
    declined to be interviewed for this film.
  • 23:09 - 23:16
    He rejected the business world. One of the really important things to remember about
  • 23:16 - 23:22
    that choice when Aaron decided to leave start-up
    culture is that he was also leaving behind
  • 23:22 - 23:31
    the things that had made him famous and well-loved, and he was at risk of letting down fans.
  • 23:31 - 23:36
    He got to where he was supposed to be going, and had the self-awareness
  • 23:36 - 23:43
    and the orneriness to realize that he had climbed the mountain of shit to pluck
  • 23:43 - 23:46
    the single rose and discovered that he'd lost his sense of smell,
  • 23:46 - 23:50
    and rather than sit there and insist that it wasn't as bad as it seemed,
  • 23:50 - 23:54
    and he did get the rose in any event,
  • 23:54 - 23:57
    he climbed back down again, which is pretty cool.
  • 23:58 - 24:02
    The way Aaron always saw it, is that
    programming is magic--
  • 24:02 - 24:07
    you can accomplish these things that normal
    humans can't, by being able to program.
  • 24:07 - 24:13
    So if you had magical powers, would you use
    them for good, or to make you mountains of cash?
  • 24:15 - 24:18
    Swartz was inspired by one of the visionaries
    he had met as a child.
  • 24:18 - 24:22
    The man who had invented the World Wide Web,
    Tim Berners-Lee.
  • 24:22 - 24:26
    In the 1990s, Berners-Lee was arguably sitting on
  • 24:26 - 24:29
    one of the most lucrative inventions of
    the 20th century,
  • 24:29 - 24:35
    but instead of profiting from the invention
    of the World Wide Web, he gave it away for free.
  • 24:36 - 24:40
    It is the only reason the World Wide Web exists today.
  • 24:41 - 24:45
    Aaron is certainly deeply influenced by Tim.
  • 24:45 - 24:51
    Tim is certainly a very prominent early Internet genius, who doesn't in any sense cash out.
  • 24:51 - 24:56
    He's not at all interested in how he's going to figure out how to make a billion dollars.
  • 24:56 - 24:58
    People were saying, "Ah, there's money to be made there,"
  • 24:58 - 25:01
    so there would have been lots of little webs,
  • 25:01 - 25:02
    instead of one big one,
  • 25:02 - 25:05
    and one little web, and all sorts of webs doesn't work,
  • 25:05 - 25:08
    because you can't follow links from one to the other.
  • 25:10 - 25:14
    You had to have the critical masses--the thing was the entire planet,
  • 25:14 - 25:17
    so it's not going to work unless the whole planet can get on board.
  • 25:24 - 25:28
    I feel very strongly that it's not enough to just live in the world as it is,
  • 25:28 - 25:34
    to just kind of take what you're given, and you know, follow the things that adults told you to do,
  • 25:34 - 25:39
    and that your parents told you to do, and that society tells you to do. I think you should always be questioning.
  • 25:39 - 25:43
    I take this very scientific attitude, that
    everything you've learned is just provisional,
  • 25:43 - 25:49
    that it's always open to recantation or refutation or
    questioning, and I think the same applies to society.
  • 25:49 - 25:53
    Once I realized that there were real serious problems--fundamental problems--
  • 25:53 - 25:59
    that I could do something to address, I didn't see a way to forget that. I didn't see a way not to.
  • 26:03 - 26:05
    We just started spending a lot of time,
  • 26:05 - 26:07
    just kind of as friends.
  • 26:09 - 26:12
    We would just talk, for hours, into the night.
  • 26:14 - 26:18
    I definitely should have understood that he was flirting with me. I think to some degree,
  • 26:18 - 26:24
    I was, like, this is a terrible idea, and impossible, and therefore I will pretend it is not happening.
  • 26:25 - 26:29
    As my marriage was breaking down, and I was
    really stuck without anywhere to go,
  • 26:29 - 26:33
    we became roommates, and I brought my daughter over.
  • 26:34 - 26:37
    We moved in, and furnished the house, and it
    was really peaceful.
  • 26:37 - 26:41
    My life had not been peaceful for a while, and really neither had his.
  • 26:46 - 26:54
    We were extremely close from the beginning of our romantic relationship.
  • 26:54 - 26:58
    We just...we were in constant contact.
  • 26:58 - 27:02
    But we're both really difficult people to deal with. [laughs]
  • 27:04 - 27:11
    In a very Ally McBeal discussion, he confessed he had a theme song, and I made him play it for me.
  • 27:12 - 27:17
    It was "Extraordinary Machine" by Fiona Apple.
  • 27:17 - 27:24
    I think it was just that sense of kind of being a little bit embattled that the song has,
  • 27:25 - 27:28
    and it also had, like, this hopefulness to it.
  • 27:28 - 27:34
    ♪ By foot it's a slow climb, but I'm good
    at being uncomfortable so I can't stop
  • 27:34 - 27:37
    changing all the time ♪
  • 27:37 - 27:44
    In many ways, Aaron was tremendously optimistic
    about life. Even when he didn't feel it,
  • 27:44 - 27:47
    he could be tremendously optimistic about life.
  • 27:47 - 27:50
    ♪ Extraordinary machine ♪
  • 27:53 - 27:58
    - What are you doing?
    (Quinn) - Flicker has video now.
  • 27:59 - 28:02
    Swartz threw his energy into a string of new
  • 28:02 - 28:05
    projects involving access to public information,
  • 28:05 - 28:08
    including an accountability website called
    Watchdog.net,
  • 28:08 - 28:11
    and a project called The Open Library.
  • 28:11 - 28:15
    So, the Open Library Project is a website you can visit at openlibrary.org,
  • 28:15 - 28:20
    and the idea is to be a huge wiki, an editable website with one page per book.
  • 28:20 - 28:24
    So for every book ever published, we want to have a web page about it that combines
  • 28:24 - 28:29
    all the information from publishers, from booksellers, from libraries, from readers
  • 28:29 - 28:35
    onto one site, and then gives you links where
    you can buy it, you can borrow it, or you can browse it.
  • 28:35 - 28:40
    I love libraries. I'm the kind of person who
    goes to a new city and immediately seeks out the library.
  • 28:40 - 28:44
    That's the dream of Open Library, is building this website where both you can leap
  • 28:44 - 28:49
    from book to book, from person to author, from subject to idea, go through this vast tree
  • 28:49 - 28:54
    of knowledge that's been embedded and lost in big physical libraries, that's hard to find,
  • 28:54 - 28:59
    that's not very well-accessible online. It's really important because books are our cultural legacy.
  • 28:59 - 29:01
    Books are the place people go to write things down,
  • 29:01 - 29:06
    and to have all that swallowed up by one corporation is kind of scary.
  • 29:07 - 29:11
    How can you bring public access to the public domain?
  • 29:11 - 29:15
    It may sound obvious that you'd have public access to the public domain,
  • 29:15 - 29:21
    but in fact it's not true. So the public domain should be free to all, but it's often locked up.
  • 29:21 - 29:27
    There's often guard cages. It's like having a national park but with a moat around it,
  • 29:27 - 29:33
    and gun turrets pointed out, in case somebody might want to actually come and enjoy the public domain.
  • 29:33 - 29:39
    One of the things Aaron was particularly interested in was bringing public access to the public domain.
  • 29:39 - 29:43
    This is one of the things that got him into so much trouble.
  • 29:46 - 29:53
    I had been trying to get access to federal court records in the United States.
  • 29:54 - 29:59
    What I discovered was a puzzling system called PACER.
  • 29:59 - 30:03
    Which stands for Public Access to Court Electronic Records.
  • 30:03 - 30:07
    I started Googling, and that's when I ran
    across Carl Malamud.
  • 30:09 - 30:15
    Access to legal materials in the United States is a ten billion dollar per year business.
  • 30:15 - 30:23
    PACER is just this incredible abomination
    of government services. It's ten cents a page,
  • 30:23 - 30:27
    it's this most braindead code you've ever seen. You can't search it. You can't bookmark anything.
  • 30:27 - 30:32
    You've got to have a credit card, and these are public records.
  • 30:32 - 30:37
    U.S. district courts are very important; it's
    where a lot of our seminal litigation starts.
  • 30:37 - 30:44
    Civil rights cases, patent cases, all sorts of stuff. Journalists, students, citizens and lawyers
  • 30:44 - 30:48
    all need access to PACER, and it fights them every step of the way.
  • 30:48 - 30:55
    People without means can't see the law as readily as people that have that Gold American Express card.
  • 30:55 - 30:58
    It's a poll tax on access to justice.
  • 30:58 - 31:04
    You know, the law is the operating system of our democracy, and you have to pay to see it?
  • 31:04 - 31:07
    You know, that's not much of a democracy.
  • 31:07 - 31:12
    They make about 120 million dollars a year on the PACER system,
  • 31:12 - 31:18
    and it doesn't cost anything near that, according to their own records. In fact, it's illegal.
  • 31:19 - 31:26
    The E-Government Act of 2002 states that the courts may charge only to the extent necessary,
  • 31:26 - 31:30
    in order to reimburse the costs of running PACER.
  • 31:35 - 31:40
    As the founder of Public.Resource.Org, Malamud wanted to protest the PACER charges.
  • 31:40 - 31:43
    He started a program called The PACER Recycling Project,
  • 31:43 - 31:47
    where people could upload PACER documents they had already paid for
  • 31:47 - 31:50
    to a free database so others could use them.
  • 31:50 - 31:55
    The PACER people were getting a lot of flack from Congress and others about public access,
  • 31:55 - 32:01
    and so they put together a system in 17 libraries across the country that was free PACER access.
  • 32:02 - 32:08
    You know, that's one library every 22,000 square miles, I believe, so it wasn't like really convenient.
  • 32:08 - 32:12
    I encouraged volunteers to join the so-called Thumb Drive Corps,
  • 32:12 - 32:17
    and download docs from the public access libraries, upload them to the PACER recycling site.
  • 32:17 - 32:21
    People take a thumb drive into one of these libraries, and they download a bunch of documents,
  • 32:21 - 32:25
    and they send them to me. I mean, it was just a joke.
  • 32:25 - 32:29
    In fact, when you clicked on Thumb Drive Corps, there was a Wizard of Oz,
  • 32:29 - 32:32
    you know, the Munchkins singing, so a videoclip came up:
  • 32:32 - 32:35
    ♪ We represent the lollipop guild...♪
  • 32:35 - 32:39
    But of course, I get this phone calls from Steve Shultze and Aaron, saying,
  • 32:39 - 32:43
    "Gee, we'd like to join the Thumb Drive Corps."
  • 32:43 - 32:47
    Around that time, I ran into Aaron at a conference.
  • 32:47 - 32:52
    This is something that really has to be a collaboration between a lot of different people.
  • 32:52 - 32:53
    So I approached him and I said,
  • 32:53 - 32:58
    "Hey, I am thinking about an intervention on the PACER problem."
  • 33:00 - 33:04
    Shultze had already developed a program that could automatically download PACER documents
  • 33:04 - 33:06
    from the trial libraries.
  • 33:06 - 33:09
    Swartz wanted to take a look.
  • 33:09 - 33:13
    So, I showed him the code, and I didn't know what would come next,
  • 33:13 - 33:19
    but as it turns out, over the course of the next few hours at that conference,
  • 33:19 - 33:24
    he was off sitting in a corner, improving my code, recruiting a friend of his
  • 33:24 - 33:32
    that lived near one of these libraries to go into the library, and to begin to test his improved code.
  • 33:32 - 33:38
    At which point the folks at the courts realized something is not going quite according to plan.
  • 33:38 - 33:43
    And data started to come in, and come in, and come in
  • 33:43 - 33:48
    and soon there was 760 GB of PACER docs, about 20 million pages.
  • 33:48 - 33:52
    Using information retrieved from the trial libraries,
  • 33:52 - 33:57
    Swartz was conducting massive automated parallel downloading of the PACER system.
  • 33:57 - 34:04
    He was able to acquire nearly 2.7 million Federal Court documents, almost 20 million pages of text.
  • 34:04 - 34:10
    Now, I'll grant you that 20 million pages had perhaps exceed the expectations of the people
  • 34:10 - 34:15
    running the pilot access project, but surprising a bureaucrat isn't illegal.
  • 34:15 - 34:19
    Aaron and Carl decided to go talk to The New York Times about what happened.
  • 34:20 - 34:26
    They also caught the attention of the FBI, who began to stake out Swartz's parents' house in Illinois.
  • 34:26 - 34:31
    And I get a tweet from his mother, saying, "Call me!!"
  • 34:31 - 34:34
    So, I think, like, what the hell's going on here?
  • 34:34 - 34:39
    And so, finally I get a hold of Aaron and, you know, Aaron's mother was like, "Oh my God, FBI, FBI, FBI!"
  • 34:40 - 34:46
    An FBI agent drives down our home's driveway, trying to see if Aaron is in his room.
  • 34:47 - 34:52
    I remember being home that day, and wondering why this car was driving down our driveway,
  • 34:52 - 34:55
    and just driving back up. That's weird!
  • 34:57 - 35:05
    Like, five years later I read this FBI file, like, oh my goodness: that was the FBI agent, in my driveway.
  • 35:05 - 35:08
    He was terrified. He was totally terrified.
  • 35:09 - 35:15
    He was way more terrified after the FBI actually called him up on the phone,
  • 35:15 - 35:19
    and tried to sucker him into coming down to a coffee shop without a lawyer.
  • 35:19 - 35:24
    He said he went home and lay down on the bed and, you know, was shaking.
  • 35:26 - 35:30
    The downloading also uncovered massive privacy violations in the court documents.
  • 35:30 - 35:35
    Ultimately, the courts were forced to change their policies as a result,
  • 35:35 - 35:39
    and the FBI closed their investigation without bringing charges.
  • 35:39 - 35:42
    To this day, I find it remarkable
  • 35:42 - 35:47
    that anybody, even at the most remote podunk field office of the FBI
  • 35:47 - 35:51
    thought that a fitting use for taxpayer dollars was investigating people
  • 35:51 - 35:55
    for criminal theft on the grounds that they had made the law public.
  • 35:55 - 35:58
    How can you call yourself a lawman,
  • 35:58 - 36:02
    and think that there could possibly be anything wrong in this whole world
  • 36:02 - 36:04
    with making the law public?
  • 36:04 - 36:09
    Aaron was willing to put himself at risk for the causes that he believed in.
  • 36:09 - 36:16
    Bothered by wealth disparity, Swartz moves beyond technology, and into a broader range of political causes.
  • 36:16 - 36:22
    I went into Congress, and I invited him to come and hang out and intern for us for a while
  • 36:22 - 36:25
    so that he could learn the political process.
  • 36:25 - 36:31
    He was sort of learning about new community and new sets of skills and kind of learning to hack politics.
  • 36:31 - 36:37
    It seems ridiculous that miners should have to hammer away until their whole bodies are dripping with sweat
  • 36:37 - 36:41
    faced with the knowledge that if they dare to stop, they won't able to put food on the table that night,
  • 36:41 - 36:46
    while I get to make larger and larger amounts of money each day just by sitting and watching TV.
  • 36:46 - 36:49
    But apparently the world is ridiculous.
  • 36:49 - 36:53
    So, I co-founded a group called "The Progressive Change Campaign Committee",
  • 36:53 - 36:58
    and what we try and do is we try to organize people over the Internet who care about progressive politics
  • 36:58 - 37:00
    and moving the country toward a more progressive direction
  • 37:00 - 37:03
    to kind of come together, join our e-mail list, join our campaigns
  • 37:03 - 37:06
    and help us to get progressive candidates elected all across the country.
  • 37:06 - 37:13
    The group is responsible for igniting the grassroots effort behind the campaign to elect Elizabeth Warren to the Senate.
  • 37:13 - 37:17
    He might have thought it was a dumb system but he came in and he said, "I need to learn this system,
  • 37:17 - 37:21
    because it can be manipulated like any social system."
  • 37:21 - 37:25
    But his passion for knowledge and libraries didn't take a back seat.
  • 37:25 - 37:31
    Aaron began to take a closer look at institutions that publish academic journal articles.
  • 37:31 - 37:35
    By virtue of being students at a major U.S. university, I assume you have access
  • 37:35 - 37:38
    to a wide variety of scholarly journals.
  • 37:38 - 37:44
    Pretty much every major university in the United States pays these sort of licensing fees to organizations like
  • 37:44 - 37:51
    JSTOR and Thomson Isi to get access to scholarly journals that the rest of the world can't read.
  • 37:51 - 37:57
    These scholarly journals and articles are essentially the entire wealth of human knowledge online,
  • 37:57 - 38:02
    and many have been paid for with taxpayer money or with government grants,
  • 38:02 - 38:09
    but to read them, you often have to pay again handing over steep fees to publishers like Reed-Elsevier.
  • 38:09 - 38:15
    These licenses fees are so substantial that people who are studying in India, instead of studying in United States,
  • 38:15 - 38:19
    don't have this kind of access. They are locked out from all of these journals.
  • 38:19 - 38:23
    They are locked out from our entire scientific legacy.
  • 38:23 - 38:27
    I mean, a lot of these journal articles, they go back to The Enlightenment.
  • 38:27 - 38:32
    Every time someone has written down a scientific paper, it's been scanned, digitized, and put in these collections.
  • 38:32 - 38:40
    That is a legacy that has been brought to us by the history of people doing interesting work, the history of scientists.
  • 38:40 - 38:43
    It's a legacy that should belong to us as a commons, as a people,
  • 38:43 - 38:48
    but instead, it has been locked up and put online by an handful of for-profit corporations
  • 38:48 - 38:52
    who then try to get the maximum profit they can out of it.
  • 38:53 - 38:59
    So a researcher paid by the university or the people publishes a paper,
  • 38:59 - 39:02
    and at the very, very last step of that process, after all the work is done,
  • 39:02 - 39:07
    after all the original research is done--the thinking, the lab work, the analysis, after everything is done,
  • 39:07 - 39:14
    at that last stage, then the researcher has to hand over his or her copyright to this multi-billion dollar company.
  • 39:14 - 39:18
    And it's sick. It's an entire economy built on volunteer labor,
  • 39:18 - 39:21
    and then the publishers sit at the very top and scrape off the cream.
  • 39:21 - 39:29
    Talk about a scam. One publisher in Britain made a profit of three billion dollars last year.
  • 39:29 - 39:30
    I mean, what a racket!
  • 39:30 - 39:34
    JSTOR is just a very, very small player in that story
  • 39:34 - 39:40
    but for some reason, JSTOR is the player that Aaron decided to confront.
  • 39:41 - 39:44
    He'd gone to some conference around Open Access and Open Publishing,
  • 39:44 - 39:46
    and I don't know who the person from JSTOR was,
  • 39:46 - 39:50
    but I think they--at some point, Aaron asked the question,
  • 39:50 - 39:54
    "How much would it cost to open up JSTOR in perpetuity?"
  • 39:54 - 39:58
    And they gave some--I think it was two hundred million dollars,
  • 39:58 - 40:01
    something that Aaron thought was totally ridiculous.
  • 40:01 - 40:07
    Working on a fellowship at Harvard, he knew users on MIT's famously open and fast network next door
  • 40:07 - 40:12
    had authorized access to the riches of JSTOR. Swartz saw an opportunity.
  • 40:12 - 40:14
    You have a key to those gates,
  • 40:14 - 40:20
    and with a little bit of shell script magic, you can get those journal articles.
  • 40:21 - 40:23
    On September 24, 2010,
  • 40:23 - 40:27
    Swartz registered a newly purchased Acer laptop
  • 40:27 - 40:31
    on the MIT network, under the name "Garry Host".
  • 40:31 - 40:35
    The client name was registered as "GHost laptop".
  • 40:35 - 40:38
    He doesn't hack JSTOR in the traditional sense of hacking.
  • 40:38 - 40:40
    The JSTOR database was organized,
  • 40:40 - 40:44
    so it was completely trivial to figure out how you could download all the articles in JSTOR,
  • 40:44 - 40:46
    because it was basically numbered.
  • 40:46 - 40:52
    It was basically slash slash slash...number article 444024 and -25 and -26.
  • 40:52 - 40:55
    He wrote a Python script called keepgrabbing.py,
  • 40:55 - 40:58
    which was like, keeping grabbing one article after another.
  • 40:58 - 41:02
    The next day, GHost laptop begins grabbing articles,
  • 41:02 - 41:08
    but soon, the computer's IP address is blocked. For Swartz, it's barely a bump in the road.
  • 41:08 - 41:13
    He quickly reassigns his computer's IP address and keeps downloading.
  • 41:13 - 41:17
    Well, JSTOR and MIT take a number of steps to try to interfere with this,
  • 41:17 - 41:20
    when they notice that this is happening,
  • 41:20 - 41:22
    and when the more modest steps don't work,
  • 41:22 - 41:27
    then at a certain stage, JSTOR just cuts off MIT from having access to the JSTOR database.
  • 41:27 - 41:29
    So there's a kind of cat-and-mouse game around
  • 41:29 - 41:33
    getting access to the JSTOR database.
  • 41:33 - 41:39
    Aaron, ultimately, obviously is the cat because he has more technical capability
  • 41:39 - 41:43
    than the JSTOR database people do in defending them.
  • 41:43 - 41:47
    Eventually, there was an unlocked supply closet in the basement of one of the buildings,
  • 41:47 - 41:51
    and he went, instead of going through WiFi, he went down there and he just plugged his computer directly into the network
  • 41:51 - 41:57
    and just left it there with an external hard drive downloading these articles to the computer.
  • 41:57 - 42:02
    Unknown to Swartz, his laptop and hard drive had been found by authorities.
  • 42:03 - 42:05
    They didn't stop the downloads.
  • 42:05 - 42:09
    Instead, they installed a surveillance camera.
  • 42:10 - 42:15
    They found the computer in this room in the basement of an MIT building.
  • 42:15 - 42:19
    They could have unplugged it. They could have waited for the guy to come back and said,
  • 42:19 - 42:24
    "Dude, what are you doing, you know, cut it out. Who are you?"
  • 42:24 - 42:25
    They could have done all that kind of stuff, but they didn't.
  • 42:25 - 42:30
    What they wanted to do was film it to gather evidence to make a case.
  • 42:30 - 42:34
    That's the only reason you film something like that.
  • 42:38 - 42:41
    At first, the only person caught on the glitchy surveillance camera
  • 42:41 - 42:46
    was using the closet as a place to store bottles and cans.
  • 42:53 - 42:57
    But days later, it caught Swartz.
  • 43:05 - 43:11
    Swartz is replacing the hard drive. He takes it out of his backpack,
  • 43:11 - 43:14
    leans out of frame for about five minutes,
  • 43:14 - 43:22
    and then leaves.
  • 43:37 - 43:42
    And then they organized, like, a stakeout where, as he was biking home from MIT,
  • 43:42 - 43:44
    these cops came out from either side of the road,
  • 43:44 - 43:48
    or something like that, and started going after him.
  • 43:49 - 43:55
    He describes that he was pressed down and assaulted by the police.
  • 43:55 - 43:58
    He tells me that they--it's unclear that they were police that were after him.
  • 43:58 - 44:02
    He thought that someone was trying to attack him.
  • 44:02 - 44:06
    He does tell me they beat him up.
  • 44:08 - 44:15
    It was just devastating. The notion of any kind of criminal prosecution of anyone in our family or anything
  • 44:15 - 44:18
    was so foreign and incomprehensible, I didn't know what to do.
  • 44:18 - 44:25
    Well, they execute search warrants at Aaron's house, his apartment in Cambridge, in his office at Harvard.
  • 44:28 - 44:34
    Two days before the arrest, the investigation had gone beyond JSTOR and the local Cambridge police.
  • 44:34 - 44:37
    It had been taken over by the United States Secret Service.
  • 44:37 - 44:42
    The Secret Service began investigating computer and credit card fraud in 1984,
  • 44:42 - 44:46
    but six weeks after the attack on 9/11, their role expanded.
  • 44:47 - 44:48
    [applause]
  • 44:48 - 44:56
    President Bush used The Patriot Act to establish a network of what they called "Electronic Crimes Task Forces".
  • 44:56 - 45:01
    The bill before me takes account of the new realities and dangers posed by modern terrorists.
  • 45:01 - 45:06
    According to the Secret Service, they are primarily engaged in activity with economic impact,
  • 45:06 - 45:11
    organized criminal groups, or use of schemes involving new technology.
  • 45:11 - 45:16
    The Secret Service turned Swartz's case over to the Boston U.S. Attorney's office.
  • 45:16 - 45:18
    There was a guy in the U.S. attorney's office who had the title:
  • 45:18 - 45:22
    "Head of the Computer Crimes Division or Task Force"
  • 45:22 - 45:24
    I don't know what else he had going,
  • 45:24 - 45:29
    but you're certainly not much of a "Computer Crimes Prosecutor" without a computer crime to prosecute,
  • 45:29 - 45:35
    so he jumped on it, kept if for himself, didn't assign it to someone else within the office or the unit
  • 45:35 - 45:37
    and that's Steve Heymann.
  • 45:37 - 45:42
    Prosecutor Stephen Heymann has been largely out of public view since the arrest of Aaron Swartz,
  • 45:42 - 45:46
    but he can be seen here, in an episode of the television show "American Greed",
  • 45:46 - 45:49
    filmed around the time of Aaron's arrest.
  • 45:49 - 45:53
    He is describing his previous case against the notorious hacker Alberto Gonzales,
  • 45:53 - 45:57
    a case that garnered Heymann enormous press attention and accolades.
  • 45:57 - 46:02
    Gonzales masterminded the theft of over a hundred million credit card and ATM numbers,
  • 46:02 - 46:05
    the largest such fraud in history.
  • 46:05 - 46:10
    Here, Heymann, describing Gonzales, gives his view on the hacker mindset:
  • 46:10 - 46:16
    These guys are driven by a lot of the same things that we're driven by.
  • 46:16 - 46:25
    They have an ego, they like challenge, and of course they like money and everything you can get for money.
  • 46:25 - 46:30
    One of the suspects implicated in the Gonzales case was a young hacker named Jonathan James.
  • 46:30 - 46:33
    Believing Gonzales' crimes would be pinned on him,
  • 46:33 - 46:36
    James committed suicide during the investigation.
  • 46:36 - 46:41
    In an early press release describing the government's position in the case of Aaron Swartz,
  • 46:41 - 46:46
    Heymann's boss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusets, Carmen Ortiz, said this:
  • 46:47 - 46:53
    "Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data, or dollars."
  • 46:53 - 46:56
    It is not true. It's obviously not true.
  • 46:57 - 46:58
    I'm not saying it's harmless,
  • 46:58 - 47:06
    and I'm not saying that we shouldn't criminalize stealing of information,
  • 47:06 - 47:08
    but you got to be much more subtle
  • 47:08 - 47:15
    in trying to figure out exactly which kinds of harms are harmful here.
  • 47:15 - 47:19
    So the thing about a crowbar is, every time I break into a place with a crowbar,
  • 47:19 - 47:22
    I do damage. There is no doubt about it.
  • 47:22 - 47:24
    But when Aaron writes a script that says
  • 47:24 - 47:28
    download download download, a hundred times in a second,
  • 47:28 - 47:31
    there's no obvious damage to anybody.
  • 47:31 - 47:36
    If he does that for the purpose of gathering an archive to do academic research on it,
  • 47:36 - 47:38
    there is never any damage to anybody.
  • 47:38 - 47:43
    He wasn't stealing. He wasn't selling what he got or giving it away.
  • 47:43 - 47:46
    He was making a point, for as far as I could tell.
  • 47:46 - 47:48
    The arrest took its toll on Swartz.
  • 47:48 - 47:50
    He just wouldn't talk about it.
  • 47:50 - 47:51
    I mean, he was very stressed.
  • 47:51 - 47:56
    If you would thought that the FBI was going to come to your doorstep any day,
  • 47:56 - 47:59
    anytime you went down the hall, even to do your laundry,
  • 47:59 - 48:03
    and they'd break in into your apartment 'cause you left the door unlocked,
  • 48:03 - 48:07
    like...I'd be pretty stressed,
  • 48:07 - 48:13
    and it was clear, and so Aaron was always sort of like in a dour mood.
  • 48:18 - 48:24
    He wouldn't give off any sensitive information about his whereabouts during this time,
  • 48:24 - 48:28
    because he was so afraid that the FBI would be waiting for him.
  • 48:31 - 48:35
    It was a time of unprecedented social and political activism.
  • 48:35 - 48:42
    Time Magazine would later name, as their 2011 Person of the Year, "The Protester".
  • 48:42 - 48:47
    There was a kind of hotbed of hacker activity going on.
  • 48:49 - 48:54
    WikiLeaks had released a trove of diplomatic cables,
  • 48:54 - 48:57
    Manning had been under arrest at the time,
  • 48:57 - 49:00
    it was unknown whether he was the source of the leak.
  • 49:00 - 49:05
    Anonymous, which is a kind of protest ensemble that
  • 49:05 - 49:07
    has a lot of hackers in its ranks,
  • 49:07 - 49:11
    were going on various sprees of sorts.
  • 49:11 - 49:14
    If you compare that to what he did,
  • 49:14 - 49:18
    this stuff should have been left behind for MIT and JSTOR to deal with,
  • 49:18 - 49:22
    in a kind of private, professional matter.
  • 49:22 - 49:28
    It should have never gotten the attention of the criminal system.
  • 49:28 - 49:31
    It just didn't belong there.
  • 49:36 - 49:40
    Before he was indicted, Swartz was offered a plea deal
  • 49:40 - 49:43
    that involved three months in prison, time in an halfway house,
  • 49:43 - 49:45
    and a year of home detention,
  • 49:45 - 49:48
    all without the use of a computer.
  • 49:48 - 49:52
    It was on the condition that Swartz plead guilty to a felony.
  • 49:52 - 49:57
    Here we are: we have no discovery, no evidence whatsoever
  • 49:57 - 49:58
    about what the government's case is,
  • 49:58 - 50:02
    and we have to make this immense decision
  • 50:02 - 50:06
    where the lawyer is pushing you to do this,
  • 50:06 - 50:10
    the government is giving you a non-negotiable demand,
  • 50:10 - 50:13
    and you're told that your likelihood of prevailing is small,
  • 50:13 - 50:18
    so whether you're guilty or not, you're better off taking the deal.
  • 50:18 - 50:21
    Boston has its own Computer Crimes Division,
  • 50:21 - 50:26
    lots of lawyers, probably more lawyers than they need.
  • 50:26 - 50:31
    So, you know, you can imagine all sorts of cases that will be really hard to prosecute,
  • 50:31 - 50:33
    because you've got some criminals in Russia,
  • 50:33 - 50:36
    or you've got some people inside of a corporation
  • 50:36 - 50:40
    that are gonna five hundred dollar lawyers or seven hundred dollar-an-hour lawyers
  • 50:40 - 50:44
    sitting down against you, and then you've got this case with this kid,
  • 50:44 - 50:48
    which is pretty easy to prove that he did something,
  • 50:48 - 50:53
    and he's already marked himself as a troublemaker with the FBI,
  • 50:53 - 50:56
    so why not go as tough as you can against that guy?
  • 50:56 - 50:59
    It's good for you the prosecutor. It's good for the Republic,
  • 50:59 - 51:02
    'cause you're fighting all those terrorist types.
  • 51:02 - 51:04
    I was so scared.
  • 51:04 - 51:06
    I was so scared of having my computer seized.
  • 51:06 - 51:10
    I was so scared of going to jail because of my computer being seized.
  • 51:10 - 51:15
    I had confidential material from sources from my previous work on my laptop,
  • 51:15 - 51:21
    and that is, above all, my priority--is to keep my sources safe.
  • 51:21 - 51:25
    I was so scared of what was going to happen to Ada.
  • 51:25 - 51:28
    Aaron told me that they'd offered him a deal,
  • 51:28 - 51:33
    and he finally just said that he would take it if I told him to,
  • 51:33 - 51:37
    and I say--I came real close to saying, "Take it."
  • 51:38 - 51:43
    He had these--he had developed, like, serious political aspirations
  • 51:43 - 51:46
    in the intervening time, between when, you know,
  • 51:46 - 51:51
    that moment when he ended that entrepreneurial start-up life,
  • 51:51 - 51:56
    and begun this new life that had come to this political activism,
  • 51:57 - 52:04
    and he just didn't believe that he could continue in his life with a felony.
  • 52:04 - 52:07
    You know, he said to me one day, we were walking by the White House,
  • 52:07 - 52:11
    and he said to me, "They don't let felons work there."
  • 52:18 - 52:22
    And you know he really--he really wanted that to be his life.
  • 52:22 - 52:26
    He hadn't killed anybody. He hadn't hurt anybody.
  • 52:26 - 52:28
    He hadn't, like, stolen money.
  • 52:28 - 52:33
    He hadn't done anything that seemed felony-worthy, and...
  • 52:35 - 52:39
    there is this idea that there is no reason that he should be labelled a felon,
  • 52:39 - 52:43
    and taken away his right to vote in many states
  • 52:43 - 52:46
    for doing what he did. That's just outrageous.
  • 52:46 - 52:50
    It makes sense for him to be maybe fined a bunch of money,
  • 52:50 - 52:54
    or asked not to come back to MIT again.
  • 52:54 - 52:58
    But to be a felon? To face jail time?
  • 53:01 - 53:04
    Swartz turned down the plea deal.
  • 53:04 - 53:07
    Heymann redoubled his efforts.
  • 53:07 - 53:12
    Heymann continued to press us at all levels.
  • 53:12 - 53:15
    Even with the physical evidence seized from Aaron's
  • 53:15 - 53:18
    Acer computer harddrive and USB drive,
  • 53:18 - 53:21
    the prosecutors needed evidence of his motives.
  • 53:21 - 53:25
    Why was Aaron Swartz downloading articles from JSTOR,
  • 53:25 - 53:28
    and just what did he plan to do with them?
  • 53:29 - 53:32
    The government claim was that he was planning to publish these.
  • 53:32 - 53:36
    We don't really know whether that was his real intention
  • 53:36 - 53:43
    because Aaron also had a history of doing projects where he'd analyze giant data sets of articles
  • 53:43 - 53:45
    in order to learn interesting things about them.
  • 53:45 - 53:48
    The best evidence for that was that when he was at Stanford,
  • 53:48 - 53:53
    he also downloaded the whole Westlaw legal database.
  • 53:53 - 53:56
    In a project with Stanford law students,
  • 53:56 - 53:58
    Swartz had downloaded the Westlaw legal database.
  • 53:58 - 54:02
    He uncovered troubling connections between funders of legal research
  • 54:02 - 54:04
    and favorable results.
  • 54:04 - 54:07
    He did this amazing analysis of for-profit companies
  • 54:07 - 54:11
    giving money to law professors who wrote law review articles
  • 54:11 - 54:15
    which were then beneficial to, like, Exxon during an oil spill.
  • 54:15 - 54:19
    So it was a very corrupt system of funding, you know, vanity research.
  • 54:19 - 54:23
    Swartz had never released the Westlaw documents.
  • 54:23 - 54:26
    In theory, he could have been doing the same thing about the JSTOR database.
  • 54:26 - 54:27
    That would have been completely okay.
  • 54:27 - 54:33
    If he were, on the other hand, intending to create a competitive service to JSTOR,
  • 54:33 - 54:35
    like, we're going to set up our own, you know,
  • 54:35 - 54:39
    access to the Harvard Law Review and charge, you know, money for it,
  • 54:39 - 54:42
    then, okay, now it seems like criminal violation
  • 54:42 - 54:45
    because you are commercially trying to exploit this material,
  • 54:45 - 54:48
    but it's kind of crazy to imagine that that was what he was doing.
  • 54:48 - 54:54
    So, but then there's the middle case: well, what if he was just trying to liberate it for all of the developing world?
  • 54:54 - 54:57
    But depending on what he was doing, it creates a very different character
  • 54:57 - 55:01
    to how the law should be thinking about it. The government was prosecuting him
  • 55:01 - 55:04
    as if this was like a commercial criminal violation,
  • 55:04 - 55:07
    like stealing a whole bunch of credit card records, that it was that kind of crime.
  • 55:07 - 55:10
    I don't know what he was going to do with that database,
  • 55:10 - 55:13
    but I heard from a friend of his that Aaron had told him
  • 55:13 - 55:18
    that he was going to analyze the data for evidence of corporate funding of climate change research
  • 55:18 - 55:24
    that led to biased results, and I totally believe that.
  • 55:25 - 55:29
    I was just told that Steve wanted to talk to me,
  • 55:29 - 55:33
    and I thought maybe this was a way I could get out of this,
  • 55:33 - 55:35
    just exit the situation,
  • 55:35 - 55:38
    and I didn't want to live in fear of having my computer seized.
  • 55:39 - 55:43
    I didn't want to live in fear of having to go to jail on a contempt of court charge
  • 55:43 - 55:46
    if they tried to compel me to decrypt my computer.
  • 55:46 - 55:50
    When they came to me and said, "Steve wants to talk to you,"
  • 55:50 - 55:52
    that seemed reasonable.
  • 55:53 - 55:57
    They offered Norton what is know as a "Queen For A Day" letter or a proffer.
  • 55:57 - 56:01
    It allowed prosecutors to ask questions about Aaron's case.
  • 56:01 - 56:04
    Norton would be given immunity from prosecution herself,
  • 56:04 - 56:06
    for any information she revealed during the meeting.
  • 56:06 - 56:09
    I didn't like it. I told my lawyers repeatedly
  • 56:09 - 56:13
    that I didn't...this seemed fishy, I didn't like this, I didn't want immunity,
  • 56:13 - 56:16
    I didn't need immunity, I hadn't done anything,
  • 56:16 - 56:18
    but they were really, really stringent that there was--
  • 56:18 - 56:21
    they did not want me meeting the prosecutor without immunity.
  • 56:21 - 56:24
    [Interviewer] But just to be clear, this is a "Queen For A Day" deal, a proffer.
  • 56:24 - 56:25
    Right, a proffer letter.
  • 56:25 - 56:30
    -In which you basically handed information to them in exchange for protection from prosecution.
  • 56:30 - 56:35
    -So, it wasn't handing information over. It was--at least that's not how I saw it--
  • 56:35 - 56:38
    it was just having a discussion, having an interview with them.
  • 56:38 - 56:40
    -Well, they're asking you questions...
    -They're asking me questions.
  • 56:40 - 56:42
    -and they can ask about whatever they want...
    -Right.
  • 56:42 - 56:45
    - and whatever they learn...
    -I really...
  • 56:45 - 56:50
    -They can't have you prosecuted.
    -Right, and I repeatedly tried to go in naked.
  • 56:50 - 56:53
    I repeatedly--I repeatedly tried to turn down the proffer letter.
  • 56:53 - 56:56
    I was ill. I was being pressured by my lawyers.
  • 56:56 - 57:01
    I was confused. I was not doing well by this point.
  • 57:01 - 57:06
    I was depressed, and I was scared, and I didn't understand the situation I was in.
  • 57:06 - 57:09
    I had no idea why I was in this situation.
  • 57:09 - 57:13
    I hadn't done anything interesting, much less wrong.
  • 57:13 - 57:15
    We went out of our minds.
  • 57:15 - 57:19
    Aaron was clearly very distraught about it. We were very distraught about it.
  • 57:19 - 57:21
    Aaron's attorneys were very distraught about it.
  • 57:21 - 57:23
    We tried to get Quinn to change attorneys.
  • 57:24 - 57:28
    I was very unused to being in a room with large men, well-armed,
  • 57:28 - 57:33
    that are continually telling me I'm lying, and that I must have done something.
  • 57:34 - 57:37
    I told them that this thing that they were prosecuting
  • 57:37 - 57:41
    wasn't a crime.
  • 57:41 - 57:43
    I told them that they were on the wrong side of history.
  • 57:43 - 57:47
    I used that phrase. I said, "You're on the wrong side of history."
  • 57:48 - 57:53
    And they looked bored. They didn't even look angry. They just looked bored,
  • 57:53 - 57:57
    and it began to occur to me that we weren't having the same conversation.
  • 57:57 - 58:02
    I mean, I told them plenty of things about, you know, why people would download journal articles,
  • 58:02 - 58:06
    and eventually--I don't remember what was around it--
  • 58:06 - 58:11
    I mentioned that he'd done this blog post, the "Guerilla Open Access Manifesto".
  • 58:13 - 58:16
    This is the "Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto",
  • 58:16 - 58:20
    supposedly written in July, 2008 in Italy.
  • 58:20 - 58:25
    "Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves."
  • 58:25 - 58:30
    "The world's entire scientific and cultural heritage,
    published over centuries in books and journals,
  • 58:30 - 58:34
    is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations."
  • 58:34 - 58:38
    "Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by."
  • 58:38 - 58:40
    "You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences,
  • 58:40 - 58:44
    liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends."
  • 58:44 - 58:48
    "But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground."
  • 58:48 - 58:51
    "It's called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were
  • 58:51 - 58:55
    the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew."
  • 58:55 - 58:57
    "But sharing isn't immoral — it's a moral imperative."
  • 58:57 - 59:02
    "Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy."
  • 59:02 - 59:04
    "There's no justice in following unjust laws."
  • 59:04 - 59:08
    "It's time to come into the light and, in a grand tradition of civil disobedience,
  • 59:08 - 59:12
    declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture."
  • 59:12 - 59:19
    The Manifesto itself was allegedly written by four different people, and also edited by Norton.
  • 59:19 - 59:21
    But it was Swartz who had signed his name to it.
  • 59:21 - 59:29
    When it's over, I go immediately to Aaron and tell him everything I can remember about it,
  • 59:29 - 59:31
    and he gets very angry.
  • 59:35 - 59:38
    The things that I'd done shouldn't have added up that way.
  • 59:40 - 59:46
    I hadn't done anything wrong, and everything had gone wrong,
  • 59:47 - 59:50
    but I was never...
  • 59:57 - 60:00
    I'm still angry.
  • 60:01 - 60:07
    I'm still angry that you could try your best with these people to do the right thing,
  • 60:07 - 60:09
    and they'd turn everything against you.
  • 60:09 - 60:13
    And they will hurt you with anything they can.
  • 60:16 - 60:19
    And in that moment, I regret that I said what I did.
  • 60:20 - 60:24
    But my much larger regret is that we have settled for this.
  • 60:24 - 60:26
    That we are okay with this.
  • 60:26 - 60:28
    That we are okay with the justice system,
  • 60:28 - 60:32
    a system that tries to game people into little traps so they can ruin our lives.
  • 60:33 - 60:36
    So yeah, I wish I hadn't said that.
  • 60:36 - 60:41
    But I'm much, much angrier that this is where I am.
  • 60:43 - 60:48
    That this is what we, as a people, think is okay.
  • 60:48 - 60:53
    They used every method that I think they could think of
  • 60:53 - 60:57
    to get her to provide information which would be unhelpful to Aaron,
  • 60:57 - 61:00
    and helpful to the prosecution of Aaron,
  • 61:02 - 61:07
    but I don't think she had information that was helpful to the government.
  • 61:08 - 61:12
    Months go by, as Swartz's friends and family await a looming indictment.
  • 61:12 - 61:17
    In the meantime, Swartz was becoming a go-to expert on a series of internet issues.
  • 61:17 - 61:20
    [RT interviewer} ...a question to you then: Do you think that the internet is something
  • 61:20 - 61:25
    that should be considered a human right, and something that the government cannot take away from you?
  • 61:25 - 61:30
    Yes, definitely, I mean this notion that national security is an excuse to shut down the internet,
  • 61:30 - 61:34
    that's exactly what we heard in Egypt and Syria and all these other countries,
  • 61:34 - 61:39
    and so, yeah, it's true, sites like WikiLeaks are going to be putting up some embarrassing material
  • 61:39 - 61:43
    about what the U.S. government does, and people are going to be organizing to protest about it,
  • 61:43 - 61:46
    and try and change their government. You know, and that's a good thing,
  • 61:46 - 61:50
    that's what all these First Amendment Rights of free expression, of freedom of association are all about,
  • 61:50 - 61:55
    and so the notion that we should try and shut those down I think, just goes against very basic American principles.
  • 61:55 - 61:58
    A principle, I think, is one that our Founding Fathers would have understood.
  • 61:58 - 62:00
    If the internet had been around back then,
  • 62:00 - 62:04
    instead of putting "post offices" in the Constitution, they would have put "ISPs".
  • 62:04 - 62:06
    [RT interviewer] Well, it's definitely interesting to see how far...
  • 62:06 - 62:11
    Swartz meets activist Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, and the two begin to date.
  • 62:11 - 62:12
    [Aaron] We need a massive global public outcry.
  • 62:12 - 62:15
    [Taren] If there's no massive global public outcry, it won't create any change.
  • 62:15 - 62:19
    -You know, four people in this city should cause a massive global public outcry.
  • 62:19 - 62:22
    -You know, we need a petition signer.
  • 62:22 - 62:25
    Without telling her specifics, he warned her he was involved in something
  • 62:25 - 62:28
    he called simply "The Bad Thing".
  • 62:28 - 62:33
    And I had sort of crazy theories, like, that he was having an affair with Elizabeth Warren or something.
  • 62:33 - 62:38
    I speculated both Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, actually, but...
  • 62:38 - 62:42
    So, sometime in probably late July, Aaron called me,
  • 62:42 - 62:47
    and I happened to pick up, and he said, "The Bad Thing" might be in the news tomorrow.
  • 62:47 - 62:50
    Do you want me to tell you, or do you want to read about it in the news?"
  • 62:50 - 62:52
    And I said, "Well, I want you to tell me."
  • 62:53 - 62:58
    Aaron said, "Well, I've been--I've been arrested
  • 62:58 - 63:03
    for downloading too many academic journal articles, and they want to make an example out of me."
  • 63:04 - 63:11
    And I was like, "That's it? That's the big fuss? Really? It just doesn't sound like a very big deal."
  • 63:11 - 63:17
    On July 14, 2011, federal prosecutors indict Swartz on four felony counts.
  • 63:17 - 63:24
    He gets indicted on the same day that two people in England who are part of LulzSec get arrested,
  • 63:25 - 63:30
    and a few other real hackers. And Aaron is just someone who kind of looks like a hacker,
  • 63:30 - 63:35
    enough that they can, you know, put his head on a stake and put it on the gates.
  • 63:35 - 63:38
    Aaron went to surrender, and they arrested him.
  • 63:39 - 63:42
    They then strip searched him,
  • 63:43 - 63:48
    took away his shoelaces, took away his belt, and left him in solitary confinement.
  • 63:50 - 63:55
    The District of Massachusetts United States Attorney's office released a statement
  • 63:55 - 63:58
    saying, "Swartz faces up to 35 years in prison,
  • 63:58 - 64:01
    to be followed by three years of supervised release,
  • 64:01 - 64:06
    restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to one million dollars."
  • 64:06 - 64:09
    He is released on one hundred thousand dollars bail.
  • 64:09 - 64:12
    The same day, the primary victim in the case, JSTOR,
  • 64:12 - 64:18
    formally drops all charges against Swartz, and declines to pursue the case.
  • 64:18 - 64:22
    JSTOR--they weren't our friends; they weren't helpful or friendly to us,
  • 64:22 - 64:25
    but they also were just kind of like, "We're not part of this."
  • 64:25 - 64:31
    JSTOR, and their parent company, ITHAKA, also sidestepped requests to talk with this film.
  • 64:31 - 64:34
    But at the time, they released a statement saying,
  • 64:34 - 64:38
    "It was the government's decision whether to prosecute, not JSTOR's."
  • 64:38 - 64:43
    And so it's our belief that, with that, the case will be over.
  • 64:43 - 64:48
    That we should be able to get Steve Heymann to drop the case, or settle it in some rational way.
  • 64:49 - 64:51
    And the government refused.
  • 64:51 - 64:53
    [Narrator] Why?
  • 64:55 - 64:58
    Well, because I think they wanted to make an example out of Aaron,
  • 64:58 - 65:02
    and they said they wanted--the reason, why they wouldn't
  • 65:02 - 65:05
    move on requiring a felony conviction and jail time,
  • 65:05 - 65:13
    was that they wanted to use this case as a case for deterrence. They told us that.
  • 65:13 - 65:15
    [Interviewer] They told you that?
    - Yes.
  • 65:15 - 65:17
    -This was going to be an example?
    -Yes.
  • 65:17 - 65:20
    -He was going to be made an example?
    - Yes.
  • 65:20 - 65:22
    Steve Heymann said that.
  • 65:22 - 65:26
    Deterring who? There's other people out there running around logging onto JSTOR,
  • 65:26 - 65:30
    and downloading the articles to make a political statement? I mean, who are they deterring?
  • 65:30 - 65:35
    It would be easier to understand the Obama administration's
  • 65:35 - 65:37
    posture of supposedly being for deterrence
  • 65:37 - 65:41
    if this was an administration that, for instance,
  • 65:41 - 65:44
    prosecuted arguably the biggest economic crime
  • 65:44 - 65:46
    that this country has seen in the last hundred years.
  • 65:46 - 65:50
    The crimes that were committed that led to the financial crisis on Wall Street.
  • 65:50 - 65:53
    When you start deploying
  • 65:53 - 65:57
    the non-controversial idea of deterrence
  • 65:57 - 65:58
    only selectively
  • 65:58 - 66:02
    you stop making a dispassionate analysis of law-breaking
  • 66:02 - 66:07
    and you started deciding to deploy law enforcement resources
  • 66:07 - 66:10
    specifically on the basis of political ideology,
  • 66:10 - 66:16
    and that's not just undemocratic, it's supposed to be un-American.
  • 66:19 - 66:24
    Prosecutor Stephen Heymann later reportedly told MIT's outside counsel
  • 66:24 - 66:27
    that the straw that broke the camel's back
  • 66:27 - 66:31
    was a press release sent out by an organization Swartz founded called "Demand Progress".
  • 66:31 - 66:36
    According to the MIT account, Heymann reacted to the short statement of support,
  • 66:36 - 66:40
    calling it a "wild internet campaign" and a "foolish move"
  • 66:40 - 66:44
    that moved the case from a human one-on-one level to an institutional level.
  • 66:44 - 66:49
    That was a poisonous combination: a prosecutor who didn't want to lose face,
  • 66:49 - 66:53
    who had a political career in the offing, maybe, and didn't want to have this come back and haunt them.
  • 66:53 - 66:58
    You spend how many tax dollars arresting someone for taking too many books out of the library,
  • 66:58 - 67:01
    and then got your ass handed to you in court? No way!
  • 67:01 - 67:06
    I then moved to try to put as much pressure on MIT in various ways to get them
  • 67:06 - 67:11
    to go to the government, and request the government to stop the prosecution.
  • 67:11 - 67:15
    [Interviewer] What was MIT's reaction to that?
  • 67:15 - 67:19
    There doesn't seem to be any reaction from MIT at that point.
  • 67:23 - 67:26
    MIT doesn't defend Aaron
  • 67:26 - 67:30
    which, to people inside of the MIT community, seems outrageous,
  • 67:30 - 67:36
    because MIT is a place that encourages hacking in the biggest sense of the word.
  • 67:36 - 67:41
    At MIT, the idea of going and running around on roofs and tunnels that you weren't allowed to be in
  • 67:41 - 67:46
    was not only a rite of passage, it was part of the MIT tour,
  • 67:46 - 67:50
    and lockpicking was a winter course at MIT.
  • 67:51 - 67:56
    They had the moral authority to stop it in its tracks.
  • 67:56 - 68:02
    MIT never stood up and took a position of saying to the Feds, "Don't do this."
  • 68:02 - 68:06
    "We don't want you to do this. You're overreacting. This is too strong."
  • 68:06 - 68:08
    ...that I'm aware of.
  • 68:08 - 68:14
    They acted kind of like any corporation would. They sort of--they helped the government,
  • 68:14 - 68:21
    they didn't help us, unless they felt they had to, and they never tried to stop it.
  • 68:22 - 68:25
    MIT declined repeated requests to comment,
  • 68:25 - 68:30
    but they later released a report saying they attempted to maintain a position of neutrality,
  • 68:30 - 68:36
    and believed Heymann and the U.S. Attorney's office did not care what MIT thought or said about the case.
  • 68:36 - 68:42
    MIT's behaviour seemed really at odds with the MIT ethos.
  • 68:42 - 68:47
    You could argue that MIT turned a blind eye, and that was okay for them to do,
  • 68:47 - 68:53
    but taking that stance--taking that neutral stance, in and of itself--was taking a pro-prosecutor stance.
  • 68:53 - 68:56
    If you look at Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak,
  • 68:56 - 69:01
    they started by selling a Blue Box, which was a thing designed to defraud the phone company.
  • 69:02 - 69:05
    If you look at Bill Gates and Paul Allen,
  • 69:05 - 69:08
    they initially started their business by using computer time at Harvard,
  • 69:08 - 69:11
    which was pretty clearly against the rules.
  • 69:11 - 69:13
    The difference between Aaron and the people I just mentioned
  • 69:13 - 69:18
    is that Aaron wanted to make the world a better place, he didn't just want to make money.
  • 69:19 - 69:23
    Swartz continues to be outspoken on a variety of internet issues.
  • 69:24 - 69:29
    You know, the reason the internet works is because of the competitive marketplace of ideas,
  • 69:29 - 69:33
    and what we need to be focusing on is getting more information about our government, more accessibility,
  • 69:33 - 69:38
    more discussion, more debate, but instead it seems like what Congress is focused on is shutting things down.
  • 69:39 - 69:44
    Aaron thought he could change the world just by explaining the world very clearly to people.
  • 69:44 - 69:49
    [RT interviewer] Flame can literally control your computer, and make it spy on you.
  • 69:49 - 69:52
    Welcome, Aaron. Good to have you back on the show here.
  • 69:52 - 69:56
    You know, just like spies used to in olden days, put microphones and tap what people were saying,
  • 69:56 - 69:59
    now they're using computers to do the same things.
  • 69:59 - 70:02
    [Narrator] Swartz's political activity continues,
  • 70:02 - 70:07
    his attention turning to a bill moving through Congress designed to curb online piracy.
  • 70:07 - 70:09
    It was called "SOPA".
  • 70:09 - 70:13
    Activists like Peter Eckersley saw it as an enormous overreach,
  • 70:13 - 70:16
    threatening the technical integrity of the Internet itself.
  • 70:16 - 70:18
    [Ekersley] And one of the first things I did was to call Aaron.
  • 70:18 - 70:22
    And I said, "Can we do a big online campaign against this?"
  • 70:22 - 70:24
    "This isn't a bill about copyright."
  • 70:25 - 70:26
    "It's not?"
  • 70:26 - 70:30
    "No," he said, "it's a bill about the freedom to connect."
  • 70:30 - 70:32
    Now I was listening.
  • 70:32 - 70:36
    And he thought about it for a while, and then said, "Yes."
  • 70:36 - 70:38
    And he went and founded Demand Progress.
  • 70:38 - 70:44
    Demand Progress is an online activism organization, we've got around a million and a half members now,
  • 70:44 - 70:47
    but started in the fall of 2010.
  • 70:47 - 70:50
    Aaron was one of the most prominent people in a community of people
  • 70:50 - 70:55
    who helped lead organizing around social justice issues at the federal level in this country.
  • 70:55 - 71:01
    SOPA was the bill that was intended to curtail online piracy of music and movies,
  • 71:01 - 71:07
    but what it did was basically take a sledgehammer to a problem that needed a scalpel.
  • 71:07 - 71:13
    If passed, the law would allow a company to cut off finances to entire websites without due process,
  • 71:13 - 71:16
    or even to force Google to exclude their links.
  • 71:16 - 71:21
    All they needed was a single claim of copyright infringement.
  • 71:21 - 71:27
    It pitted the titans of traditional media against a new and now far more sophisticated remix culture.
  • 71:27 - 71:30
    It makes everyone who runs a website into a policeman,
  • 71:30 - 71:34
    and if they don't do their job of making sure that nobody on their site uses it for anything
  • 71:34 - 71:39
    that's even potentially illegal, the entire site can get shut down without even so much as a trial.
  • 71:39 - 71:43
    This was over the top, I mean, this was a catastrophe.
  • 71:43 - 71:52
    This bill poses a serious threat to speech and civil liberties for all who use the internet.
  • 71:52 - 71:56
    There were only a handful of us who said, "Look, we're not for piracy either,
  • 71:56 - 72:00
    but it makes no sense to destroy the architecture of the internet,
  • 72:00 - 72:06
    the domain name system and so much that makes it free and open in the name of fighting piracy,
  • 72:06 - 72:07
    and Aaron got that right away.
  • 72:07 - 72:12
    The freedoms, guaranteed in our Constitution, the freedoms our country had been built on
  • 72:12 - 72:14
    would be suddenly deleted.
  • 72:14 - 72:19
    New technology, instead of bringing us greater freedom, would have snuffed out fundamental rights
  • 72:19 - 72:21
    we'd always taken for granted.
  • 72:21 - 72:27
    And I realized that day, talking to Peter, that I couldn't let that happen.
  • 72:28 - 72:33
    When SOPA was introduced in October, 2011, it was considered inevitable.
  • 72:33 - 72:37
    Our strategy, when it first came out, was to hopefully slow the bill down,
  • 72:37 - 72:41
    maybe weaken it a little bit but, even we
  • 72:41 - 72:45
    didn't think that we would be able to stop this bill.
  • 72:46 - 72:51
    Having worked in Washington, what you learn is that, typically in Washington,
  • 72:51 - 72:58
    the legislative fights are fights between different sets of corporate monied interests.
  • 72:58 - 73:02
    They're all duking it out to pass legislation, and the fights that are the closest
  • 73:02 - 73:07
    are when you have one set of corporate interests against another set of corporate interests,
  • 73:07 - 73:11
    and they're financially equally matched in terms of campaign contributions and lobbying.
  • 73:11 - 73:13
    Those are the closest ones.
  • 73:13 - 73:16
    The ones that aren't even fights, typically, are ones
  • 73:16 - 73:21
    where all the money is on one side, all the corporations are on one side,
  • 73:21 - 73:24
    and it's just millions of people on the other side.
  • 73:25 - 73:30
    I haven't seen anything like PIPA and SOPA in all my time in public service.
  • 73:31 - 73:37
    There were more than forty United States senators on that bill as co-sponsors,
  • 73:37 - 73:41
    so they were already a long, long way to getting the
  • 73:41 - 73:44
    sixty votes to have it clear all the procedural hoops.
  • 73:44 - 73:48
    Even I began to doubt myself. It was a rough period.
  • 73:48 - 73:53
    Swartz and Demand Progress were able to marshal enormous support using traditional outreach,
  • 73:53 - 73:59
    combined with commonly used voiceover IP, to make it very easy for people to call Congress.
  • 74:00 - 74:04
    I've never met anybody else who was able to operate at his level
  • 74:04 - 74:08
    both on the technological side and on the campaign strategy side.
  • 74:09 - 74:13
    Millions of people contacted Congress and signed anti-SOPA petitions.
  • 74:13 - 74:15
    Congress was caught off guard.
  • 74:15 - 74:20
    There was just something about watching those clueless members of Congress debate the bill,
  • 74:20 - 74:23
    watching them insist they could regulate the internet,
  • 74:23 - 74:25
    and a bunch of nerds couldn't possibly stop them.
  • 74:25 - 74:26
    I am not a nerd.
  • 74:26 - 74:28
    I'm just not enough of a nerd...
  • 74:28 - 74:31
    Maybe we oughta ask some nerds what this thing really does. [laughter]
  • 74:31 - 74:33
    Let's have a hearing, bring in the nerds...
  • 74:33 - 74:36
    [laughter]
  • 74:36 - 74:38
    Really?
  • 74:38 - 74:40
    [laughter]
  • 74:40 - 74:41
    "Nerds"?
  • 74:41 - 74:42
    [laughter]
  • 74:42 - 74:46
    You know, I think, actually the word you're looking for is "experts"...
  • 74:46 - 74:47
    [laughter]
  • 74:47 - 74:52
    to enlighten you so your laws don't backfire [audience laughter and applause]
  • 74:52 - 74:53
    and break the internet.
  • 74:53 - 74:57
    We use the term "geek" but we're allowed to use that because we are geeks.
  • 74:57 - 75:02
    The fact that it got as far as it did, without them talking to any technical experts,
  • 75:02 - 75:05
    reflects the fact that there is a problem in this town.
  • 75:05 - 75:12
    I'm looking for somebody to come before this body, and testify in a hearing and say, "This is why they're wrong."
  • 75:12 - 75:15
    There used to be an office that provided science and technology advice,
  • 75:15 - 75:19
    and members could go to them and say, "Help me understand X,Y,Z."
  • 75:19 - 75:22
    And Gingrich killed it. He said it was a waste of money.
  • 75:22 - 75:26
    Ever since then, Congress has plunged into the Dark Ages.
  • 75:26 - 75:30
    I don't think anybody really thought that SOPA could be beaten, including Aaron.
  • 75:30 - 75:35
    It was worth trying, but it didn't seem winnable,
  • 75:35 - 75:39
    and I remember, maybe a few months later, I remember him just turning to me and being like,
  • 75:39 - 75:41
    "I think we might win this."
  • 75:41 - 75:43
    And I was like, "That would be amazing."
  • 75:44 - 75:46
    Calls to Congress continue.
  • 75:46 - 75:50
    When the domain hosting site Go Daddy becomes a supporter of the bill,
  • 75:50 - 75:55
    tens of thousands of users transferred their domain names in protest.
  • 75:55 - 76:00
    Within a week, a humbled Go Daddy reverses their position on SOPA.
  • 76:00 - 76:06
    When the Congress people that supported the record and movie industries,
  • 76:06 - 76:10
    realized that there was this backlash, they kind of scaled the bill back a little bit.
  • 76:10 - 76:16
    You could see the curve happening. You could see that our arguments were starting to resonate.
  • 76:16 - 76:19
    It was like Aaron had been striking a match and it was being blown out,
  • 76:19 - 76:21
    striking another one, and it was being blown out,
  • 76:21 - 76:24
    and finally he'd managed to catch enough kindling that the flame actually caught,
  • 76:24 - 76:26
    and then it turned into this roaring blaze.
  • 76:27 - 76:31
    On January 16, 2012, the White House issued a statement
  • 76:31 - 76:34
    saying they didn't support the bill.
  • 76:34 - 76:36
    And then this happened:
  • 76:36 - 76:40
    I'm a big believer that we should be dealing with issues of piracy,
  • 76:40 - 76:45
    and we should deal with them in a serious way, but this bill is not the right bill.
  • 76:45 - 76:49
    When Jimmy Wales put his support toward blacking out Wikipedia,
  • 76:49 - 76:52
    the number five most popular website in the world,
  • 76:52 - 76:59
    this is a website that's seven percent of all of the clicks on anywhere on the internet.
  • 76:59 - 77:00
    Wikipedia went black.
  • 77:00 - 77:02
    Reddit went black.
  • 77:02 - 77:03
    Craigslist went black.
  • 77:03 - 77:06
    The phone lines on Capitol Hill flat out melted.
  • 77:06 - 77:11
    Members of Congress started rushing to issue statements retracting their support for the bill
  • 77:11 - 77:13
    that they were promoting just a couple days ago.
  • 77:14 - 77:18
    Within 24 hours, the number of opponents of SOPA in Congress
  • 77:18 - 77:19
    went from this...
  • 77:19 - 77:21
    to this.
  • 77:23 - 77:30
    To see congressmen and senators slowly flip sides throughout the day of the blackout
  • 77:30 - 77:31
    was pretty unbelievable.
  • 77:31 - 77:35
    There was like a hundred representative swing.
  • 77:35 - 77:39
    And that was when, as hard as it was for me to believe, after all this,
  • 77:39 - 77:41
    we had won.
  • 77:41 - 77:42
    The thing that everyone said was impossible,
  • 77:42 - 77:46
    that some of the biggest companies in the world had written off as kind of a pipe dream,
  • 77:46 - 77:48
    had happened.
  • 77:49 - 77:50
    We did it.
  • 77:51 - 77:53
    We won.
  • 77:55 - 77:59
    This is a historic week in internet politics--maybe American politics.
  • 77:59 - 78:04
    The thing that we heard from people in Washington, D.C., from the staffers on Capitol Hill was:
  • 78:04 - 78:09
    they received more emails and more phone calls on SOPA Blackout Day
  • 78:09 - 78:11
    than they'd ever received about anything.
  • 78:11 - 78:13
    I think that was an extremely exciting moment.
  • 78:13 - 78:18
    This was the moment when the internet had grown up, politically.
  • 78:18 - 78:21
    It was exhilarating because it's hard to believe it actually happened.
  • 78:21 - 78:25
    It's hard to believe a bill with so much financial power behind it
  • 78:25 - 78:29
    didn't simply sail through the Congress.
  • 78:29 - 78:32
    And not only did not sail through, it didn't pass at all.
  • 78:34 - 78:36
    It's easy sometimes to feel like you're powereless,
  • 78:36 - 78:41
    like when you come out on the streets and you march and you yell and nobody hears you.
  • 78:41 - 78:43
    But I'm here to tell you today, you are powerful.
  • 78:43 - 78:46
    [Crowd cheers]
  • 78:46 - 78:51
    So, yeah, maybe sometimes you feel like you're not being listened to, but I'm here to tell you that you are.
  • 78:51 - 78:53
    You are being listened to. You are making a difference.
  • 78:53 - 78:57
    You can stop this bill if you don't stop fighting.
  • 78:57 - 79:00
    [Crowd cheers]
  • 79:00 - 79:01
    Stop PIPA.
  • 79:01 - 79:03
    Stop SOPA.
  • 79:03 - 79:04
    [Crowd cheers]
  • 79:04 - 79:07
    Some of the biggest internet companies, to put it frankly, would benefit
  • 79:07 - 79:11
    from a world in which their little competitors could get censored.
  • 79:12 - 79:15
    We can't let that happen.
  • 79:15 - 79:20
    For him, it was more important to be sure that you made a small change
  • 79:20 - 79:23
    than to play a small part in a big change.
  • 79:23 - 79:28
    But SOPA was like playing a major part in a major change,
  • 79:28 - 79:31
    and so for him, it was kind of this proof of concept
  • 79:31 - 79:35
    like, "Okay, what I want to do with my life is change the world."
  • 79:35 - 79:40
    "I think about it in this really scientific way of measuring my impact,
  • 79:40 - 79:43
    and this shows that it's possible."
  • 79:43 - 79:46
    "The thing that I want to do with my life is possible."
  • 79:46 - 79:49
    "I have proved that I can do it,
  • 79:49 - 79:51
    that I, Aaron Swartz, can change the world."
  • 79:51 - 79:58
    For a guy who never really thought he had done much--which was Aaron--
  • 79:59 - 80:04
    was one of the few moments where you could really see
  • 80:04 - 80:07
    that he felt like he had done something good,
  • 80:07 - 80:12
    feeling like here is his maybe one and only victory lap.
  • 80:14 - 80:16
    Everyone said there was no way we could stop SOPA.
  • 80:16 - 80:17
    We stopped it.
  • 80:17 - 80:22
    This is three outrageously good victories, and the year isn't even over yet.
  • 80:22 - 80:26
    I mean, if there's a time to be positive, it's now.
  • 80:27 - 80:30
    You know, he wins at SOPA a year after he's arrested.
  • 80:30 - 80:33
    It's not unambiguously happy moments. There's a lot going on.
  • 80:33 - 80:40
    He's so attuned towards participating in the political process, you can't stop him.
  • 80:40 - 80:44
    The list of organizations Swartz founded or co-founded is enormous,
  • 80:44 - 80:48
    and years before Edward Snowden would expose widespread internet surveillance,
  • 80:48 - 80:51
    Swartz was already concerned.
  • 80:51 - 80:55
    It is shocking to think that the accountability is so lax
  • 80:55 - 81:00
    that they don't even have sort of basic statistics about how big the spying program is.
  • 81:00 - 81:04
    And if the answer is: "Oh, we're spying on so many people we can't possibly even count them"
  • 81:04 - 81:06
    then that's an awful lot of people.
  • 81:06 - 81:10
    It'd be one thing if they said, "Look, we know the number of telephones we're spying on,
  • 81:10 - 81:12
    we don't know exactly how many real people that corresponds to."
  • 81:12 - 81:16
    but they just came back and said, "We can't give you a number at all."
  • 81:16 - 81:19
    That's pretty--I mean, that's scary, is what it is.
  • 81:19 - 81:26
    And they put incredible pressure on him, took away all of the money he had made.
  • 81:26 - 81:30
    They, you know, threatened to take away his physical freedom.
  • 81:30 - 81:34
    Why'd they do it, you know? I mean, well, why are they going after whistleblowers?
  • 81:34 - 81:38
    You know, why are they going after people who tell the truth
  • 81:38 - 81:46
    about all sorts of things, I mean, from the banks, you know, to war, to just sort of government transparency.
  • 81:46 - 81:50
    So secrecy serves those who are already in power,
  • 81:50 - 81:55
    and we are living in an era of secrecy that coincides with an era where the government is doing, also,
  • 81:55 - 81:59
    a lot of things that are probably illegal and unconstitutional.
  • 81:59 - 82:01
    So, those two things are not coincidences.
  • 82:01 - 82:04
    It's very clear that this technology has been developed
  • 82:04 - 82:10
    not for small countries overseas, but right here, for use in the United States, by the U.S. government.
  • 82:10 - 82:14
    The problem with the spying program is it's this sort of long, slow expansion, you know,
  • 82:14 - 82:17
    going back to the Nixon administration, right,
  • 82:17 - 82:20
    obviously it became big after 9/11 under George W. Bush,
  • 82:20 - 82:24
    and Obama has continued to expand it, and the problems have slowly grown worse and worse,
  • 82:24 - 82:26
    but there's never been this moment you can point to and say,
  • 82:26 - 82:32
    "Okay, we need to galvanize opposition today because today is when it matters..."
  • 82:32 - 82:39
    The prosecution, in my estimation of Aaron Swartz, was about sending a particular, laserlike message
  • 82:39 - 82:45
    to a group of people that the Obama administration sees as politically threatening,
  • 82:47 - 82:54
    and that is, essentially, the hacker, the information, and the democracy activist community,
  • 82:54 - 82:59
    and the message that the Obama administration wanted to send to that particular community was,
  • 82:59 - 83:04
    in my estimation, "We know you have the ability to make trouble for the establishment,
  • 83:04 - 83:09
    and so we are going to try to make an example out of Aaron Swartz
  • 83:09 - 83:13
    to scare as many of you as possible into not making that trouble."
  • 83:14 - 83:17
    And the government said, "Oh, the legal opinions we're using
  • 83:17 - 83:20
    to legalize the spying program are also classified,
  • 83:20 - 83:24
    so we can't even tell you which laws we're using to spy on you."
  • 83:24 - 83:26
    You know, every time they can say, "Oh, this is another instance of cyberwar.
  • 83:26 - 83:30
    The cybercriminals are attacking us again. We're all in danger. We're all under threat."
  • 83:30 - 83:34
    They use those as excuses to push through more and more dangerous laws.
  • 83:35 - 83:40
    [Interviewer] And so just to follow--personally, how do you feel the fight is going?
  • 83:41 - 83:42
    It's up to you!
  • 83:42 - 83:45
    -I know. It's just that we gotta, you know...
  • 83:47 - 83:53
    You know, there's sort of these two polarizing perspectives, right,
  • 83:53 - 83:57
    everything is great, the internet has created all this freedom and liberty, and everything's going to be fantastic
  • 83:57 - 83:59
    or everything is terrible,
  • 83:59 - 84:01
    the internet has created all these tools for cracking down and spying,
  • 84:01 - 84:04
    and controlling what we say.
  • 84:04 - 84:06
    And the thing is, both are true, right?
  • 84:06 - 84:10
    The internet has done both, and both are kind of amazing and astonishing
  • 84:10 - 84:13
    and which one will win out in the long run is up to us.
  • 84:13 - 84:17
    It doesn't make sense to say, "Oh, one is doing better than the other." You know, they're both true.
  • 84:17 - 84:21
    And it's up to us which ones we emphasize and which ones we take advantage of
  • 84:21 - 84:24
    because they're both there, and they're both always going to be there.
  • 84:29 - 84:35
    On September 12, 2012, federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment against Swartz,
  • 84:35 - 84:40
    adding additional counts of wire fraud, unauthorized access to a computer, and computer fraud.
  • 84:40 - 84:46
    Now, instead of four felony counts, Swartz was facing thirteen.
  • 84:46 - 84:49
    The prosecution's leverage had dramatically increased,
  • 84:49 - 84:52
    as did Swartz's potential jail time and fines.
  • 84:52 - 84:56
    They filed a separate indictment to add more charges,
  • 84:56 - 85:02
    and they had a theory about why this conduct constituted a number of federal crimes,
  • 85:02 - 85:06
    and that a very significant sentence could attach to it under the law.
  • 85:07 - 85:11
    That theory, and much of the prosecution's case against Swartz
  • 85:11 - 85:14
    involved a law created originally in 1986.
  • 85:14 - 85:17
    It is called the "Computer Fraud and Abuse Act".
  • 85:17 - 85:18
    The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
  • 85:18 - 85:22
    was inspired by the movie "War Games" with Matthew Broderick--great movie.
  • 85:22 - 85:23
    [Broderick] I have you now.
  • 85:23 - 85:28
    In this movie, a kid gets the ability, through the magic of computer networks
  • 85:28 - 85:30
    to launch a nuclear attack.
  • 85:30 - 85:34
    [missiles firing up]
  • 85:34 - 85:38
    You know, that's not actually possible, and it certainly wasn't possible in the '80s
  • 85:38 - 85:41
    but apparently this movie scared Congress enough to
  • 85:41 - 85:45
    pass the original Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
  • 85:45 - 85:49
    This is a law that's just behind the times, for example, it penalizes
  • 85:49 - 85:54
    a terms of service kind of arrangement. You can have something like
  • 85:54 - 86:01
    eHarmony or Match.com, and somebody sort of inflates their own personal characteristics,
  • 86:01 - 86:06
    and all of a sudden, depending on the jurisdiction and the prosecutors,
  • 86:06 - 86:08
    they could be in a whole host of troubles.
  • 86:08 - 86:10
    We all know what "Terms of Use" are.
  • 86:10 - 86:14
    Most people don't read them, but not abiding by their terms could mean
  • 86:14 - 86:16
    you are committing a felony.
  • 86:16 - 86:19
    The website Terms of Service often say things like:
  • 86:19 - 86:22
    "Be nice to each other", or "Don't do anything that's improper."
  • 86:22 - 86:27
    The idea that the Criminal Law has anything to say about these kinds of violations,
  • 86:27 - 86:30
    I think strikes most people as crazy.
  • 86:30 - 86:33
    The examples get even more "crazy":
  • 86:33 - 86:39
    Until it was changed in March of 2013, the Terms of Use on the website of Hearst's Seventeen magazine
  • 86:39 - 86:43
    said you had to be eighteen in order to read it.
  • 86:43 - 86:47
    I would say that the way the CFAA has been interpreted by the Justice Department,
  • 86:47 - 86:49
    we are probably all breaking the law.
  • 86:49 - 86:55
    Vague and prone to misuse, the CFAA has become a one-size-fits-all hammer
  • 86:55 - 86:57
    for a wide range of computer-related disputes.
  • 86:57 - 87:00
    Though not the only factor in his case,
  • 87:00 - 87:05
    eleven of the thirteen charges against Swartz involved the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
  • 87:07 - 87:12
    The question "Why?" hangs over much of the story of Aaron Swartz.
  • 87:12 - 87:16
    Just what was motivating the government, and what would their case have been?
  • 87:16 - 87:19
    The Department of Justice declined requests for answers,
  • 87:19 - 87:24
    but Professor Orin Kerr is a former prosecutor who has studied the case.
  • 87:24 - 87:28
    So, I think I come about this case from a different direction than other people on a number of reasons:
  • 87:28 - 87:31
    I was a federal prosecutor at the Justice Department for three years
  • 87:31 - 87:34
    before I started teaching. The government came forward
  • 87:34 - 87:38
    with an indictment based on what crimes they thought were committed,
  • 87:38 - 87:42
    just as a purely lawyer's matter, looking at the precedents, looking at the statute,
  • 87:42 - 87:46
    looking at the history, looking at the cases that are out there so far,
  • 87:46 - 87:49
    I think it was a fair indictment based on that.
  • 87:49 - 87:51
    You can debate whether they should have charged this case.
  • 87:51 - 87:57
    There's just a lot of disagreement. Some people are on the Open Access side, some people are not.
  • 87:58 - 88:03
    I think the government took Swartz's "Guerilla Open Access Manifesto" very seriously,
  • 88:04 - 88:10
    and I think they saw him as somebody who was committed, as a moral imperative,
  • 88:10 - 88:15
    to breaking the law, to overcome a law that Swartz saw as unjust,
  • 88:15 - 88:21
    and in a democracy, if you think a law is unjust, there are ways of changing that law.
  • 88:21 - 88:25
    There's going to Congress as Swartz did so masterfully with SOPA,
  • 88:25 - 88:28
    or you can violate that law in a way to try to nullify that law,
  • 88:28 - 88:34
    and I think what was driving the prosecution was the sense that Swartz was committed,
  • 88:34 - 88:40
    not just to breaking the law, but to really making sure that law was nullified.
  • 88:40 - 88:44
    That everyone would have access to the database in a way that
  • 88:44 - 88:47
    you couldn't put the toothpaste back into the tube.
  • 88:47 - 88:51
    It would be done, and Swartz's side would win.
  • 88:52 - 88:56
    There's a big disagreement in society as to whether that is an unjust law,
  • 88:56 - 89:00
    and ultimately, that is a decision for the American people to make, working through Congress.
  • 89:00 - 89:04
    And then the second problem is, I think, we're still trying to figure out:
  • 89:04 - 89:08
    What's the line between less serious offences and more serious offences?
  • 89:08 - 89:12
    We're now entering this different environment of computers and computer misuse,
  • 89:12 - 89:17
    and we don't yet have a really strong sense of exactly what these lines are
  • 89:17 - 89:19
    because we're just working that out.
  • 89:19 - 89:22
    This is a poor use of prosecutorial discretion.
  • 89:22 - 89:26
    The hammer that the Justice Department has to scare people with
  • 89:26 - 89:29
    just gets bigger and bigger and bigger,
  • 89:29 - 89:33
    and so most people just--you know, you can't roll the dice with your life like that.
  • 89:33 - 89:35
    Should we tap somebody's phone? Should we film them?
  • 89:35 - 89:39
    Should we turn somebody and get them to testify against these other people?
  • 89:39 - 89:42
    That's how federal agents and prosecutors think.
  • 89:42 - 89:45
    They build cases. They make cases.
  • 89:47 - 89:51
    Swartz was caught in the gears of a brutal criminal justice system that could not turn back,
  • 89:52 - 89:57
    a machine that has made America the country with the highest rate of incarceration in the world.
  • 89:57 - 90:03
    We have, in this country, allowed ourselves to be captured by the politics of fear and anger,
  • 90:03 - 90:08
    and anything we're afraid of, like the future of the internet and access,
  • 90:08 - 90:14
    and anything we're angry about, instinctively creates a criminal justice intervention,
  • 90:14 - 90:20
    and we've used jail, prison, and punishment to resolve a whole host of problems
  • 90:20 - 90:23
    that, historically, were never seen as criminal justice problems.
  • 90:23 - 90:28
    The impulse to threaten, indict, prosecute, which is part of what
  • 90:28 - 90:33
    has created this debate and controversy over online access to information on the internet,
  • 90:33 - 90:35
    is very consistent with what we've seen in other areas.
  • 90:35 - 90:40
    The one difference is that the people who are usually targeted and victimized
  • 90:40 - 90:46
    by these kinds of criminal and carceral responses are typically poor and minority.
  • 90:48 - 90:51
    Swartz's isolation from friends and family increased.
  • 90:51 - 90:54
    He had basically stopped working on anything else,
  • 90:54 - 90:57
    and the case was, in fact, taking over sort of his whole life.
  • 90:57 - 91:03
    One of Aaron's lawyers apparently told the prosecutors that he was emotionally vulnerable,
  • 91:03 - 91:07
    and that that was something they really needed to keep in mind so that they knew that.
  • 91:07 - 91:09
    It was weighing on him very heavily.
  • 91:10 - 91:16
    He did not like having his actions and his movements restricted in any way,
  • 91:16 - 91:21
    and the threat of jail, which they pounded him with a lot,
  • 91:22 - 91:24
    was terrifying to him.
  • 91:24 - 91:27
    Completely exhausted his financial resources,
  • 91:27 - 91:32
    and it cost us a lot of money also, and he raised a substantial amount of money,
  • 91:32 - 91:36
    so it was, you know, it was in the millions of dollars.
  • 91:36 - 91:38
    [Interviewer] The legal defence?
    - Yes.
  • 91:38 - 91:41
    -Was in millions?
    - Yes.
  • 91:41 - 91:44
    I think he didn't want to be a burden to people.
  • 91:44 - 91:48
    I think that was a factor like, "I have my normal life,
  • 91:48 - 91:49
    and then I have this shitty thing I have to deal with,
  • 91:49 - 91:53
    and I try to keep the two of them as separate as possible,
  • 91:53 - 91:57
    but they were just beginning to blur together and everything was becoming shitty."
  • 91:59 - 92:03
    Swartz faced a tough choice that was only getting tougher:
  • 92:03 - 92:05
    Do you admit guilt and move on with your life,
  • 92:05 - 92:07
    or do you fight a broken system?
  • 92:07 - 92:10
    With his legal case, the answer was simple:
  • 92:10 - 92:13
    He rejects a final plea deal and a trial date is set.
  • 92:13 - 92:17
    Aaron was resolute that he didn't want to knuckle under and accept something
  • 92:17 - 92:22
    that he didn't believe was fair, but I also think he was scared.
  • 92:33 - 92:34
    I don't think they would have convicted Aaron.
  • 92:34 - 92:39
    I think we would have walked him out of that courthouse, and I would have given him a big hug,
  • 92:39 - 92:44
    and we would have walked across that little river in Boston, and gone and had a couple of beers.
  • 92:46 - 92:50
    I really thought that we were right. I thought that we were going to win the case.
  • 92:50 - 92:51
    I thought that we could win the case.
  • 92:51 - 92:54
    He didn't talk about it very much, but you could see
  • 92:54 - 92:57
    the enormous pain that he was going through.
  • 92:57 - 93:01
    [song]
  • 93:01 - 93:05
    No time in his childhood did Aaron have any severe mood swings
  • 93:05 - 93:11
    or depressive episodes or anything that I would describe as "severe depression"
  • 93:11 - 93:14
    and it's possible, you know, he was depressed. People get depressed.
  • 93:14 - 93:19
    [music]
  • 93:19 - 93:24
    Very early in our relationship, three or four weeks in or something,
  • 93:24 - 93:26
    I remember him saying to me
  • 93:27 - 93:31
    that I was a lot stronger than he was.
  • 93:31 - 93:33
    You know, he was brittle in a lot of ways.
  • 93:33 - 93:37
    Things were a lot harder for him than for a lot of people.
  • 93:37 - 93:40
    That was part of his brilliance, too.
  • 93:41 - 93:47
    I think he probably had something like clinical depression in his early twenties.
  • 93:47 - 93:49
    I don't think he did when I was with him.
  • 93:49 - 93:55
    He wasn't a "joyful" person, but that's different from being depressed.
  • 93:57 - 94:01
    He was just under such enormous pressure for two years straight.
  • 94:01 - 94:04
    He just didn't want to do it anymore.
  • 94:04 - 94:07
    He was just--I just think it was too much.
  • 94:07 - 94:14
    [song]
  • 94:14 - 94:17
    I got a phone call late at night.
  • 94:17 - 94:23
    I could tell something was wrong, and then I called, and I realized what had happened.
  • 94:24 - 94:29
    A co-founder of the social news and entertainment website "Reddit" has been found dead.
  • 94:29 - 94:32
    Police say twenty-six-year-old Aaron Swartz
  • 94:32 - 94:34
    killed himself yesterday in his Brooklyn apartment.
  • 94:37 - 94:47
    I just thought, we've lost one of the most creative minds of our generation.
  • 94:47 - 94:50
    I was like, the whole world fell apart at that moment.
  • 94:57 - 95:00
    It was one of the hardest nights of my life.
  • 95:00 - 95:05
    I just kept screaming, "I can't hear you! What did you say? I can't hear you!"
  • 95:08 - 95:09
    I can't. That's it.
  • 95:09 - 95:11
    [Interviewer] Okay.
  • 95:20 - 95:23
    Yeah, none of it made any sense,
  • 95:23 - 95:25
    and really still doesn't.
  • 95:25 - 95:28
    I was so frustrated, angry.
  • 95:33 - 95:36
    [exhales]
  • 95:38 - 95:42
    You know, I tried to explain it to my kids.
  • 95:43 - 95:47
    My three-year-old told me that the doctors would fix him.
  • 95:52 - 95:57
    I've known lots of people that have died, but I've never lost anybody like this,
  • 95:57 - 96:04
    because everybody feels, and I do too, there is so much we could have--more to do like...
  • 96:05 - 96:11
    I just didn't know he was there. I didn't know this was what he was suffering and...
  • 96:11 - 96:13
    He was part of me.
  • 96:17 - 96:21
    And I just wanted it to not be real, and then...
  • 96:24 - 96:29
    and then I just looked at his Wikipedia page and I saw the end date:
  • 96:33 - 96:36
    "to 2013".
  • 96:45 - 97:10
    [quote on screen]
  • 97:15 - 97:19
    My first thought was: what if nobody even notices?
  • 97:19 - 97:24
    You know, because it wasn't clear to me how salient he was.
  • 97:24 - 97:30
    I had never seen anything quite like the outpouring I saw.
  • 97:30 - 97:32
    The Net just lit up.
  • 97:32 - 97:38
    Everyone was trying to explain it in their own way, but I've never seen
  • 97:38 - 97:40
    people grieve on Twitter before.
  • 97:40 - 97:42
    People were visibly grieving online.
  • 97:46 - 97:49
    He was the internet's own boy,
  • 97:49 - 97:53
    and the old world killed him.
  • 97:55 - 98:00
    We are standing in the middle of a time when great injustice is not touched.
  • 98:02 - 98:06
    Architects of the financial meltdown have dinner with the president, regularly.
  • 98:06 - 98:14
    In the middle of that time, the idea that this is what the government had to prosecute,
  • 98:14 - 98:17
    It just seems absurd, if it weren't tragic.
  • 98:17 - 98:23
    The question is: Can we do something, given what's happened,
  • 98:23 - 98:26
    to make the world a better place,
  • 98:26 - 98:28
    and how can we further that legacy?
  • 98:28 - 98:30
    That's the only question one could ask.
  • 98:33 - 98:37
    All over the world there are starting to be hack-a-thons, gatherings,
  • 98:37 - 98:43
    Aaron Swartz has, in some sense, brought the best out of us, in trying to say:
  • 98:43 - 98:46
    How do we fix this?
  • 98:47 - 98:52
    He was, in my humble opinion, one of the true extraordinary revolutionaries
  • 98:52 - 98:55
    that this country has produced.
  • 98:55 - 98:59
    I don't know whether Aaron was defeated or victorious,
  • 98:59 - 99:06
    but we are certainly shaped by the hand of the things that he wrestled with.
  • 99:06 - 99:12
    When we turn armed agents of the law on citizens trying to increase access to knowledge,
  • 99:12 - 99:17
    we've broken the rule of law--we've desecrated the temple of justice.
  • 99:17 - 99:20
    Aaron Swartz was not a criminal.
  • 99:20 - 99:22
    [applause]
  • 99:22 - 99:26
    Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability,
  • 99:26 - 99:30
    it comes through continuous struggle.
  • 99:30 - 99:33
    Aaron really could do magic,
  • 99:33 - 99:36
    and I'm dedicated to making sure that his magic doesn't end with his death.
  • 99:36 - 99:41
    He believed that he could change the world, and he was right.
  • 99:41 - 99:45
    Out of the last week, and out of today, phoenixes are already rising.
  • 99:45 - 99:45
    [applause]
  • 99:47 - 99:52
    Since Swartz's death, Representative Zoe Lofgren and Senator Ron Wyden
  • 99:52 - 99:55
    have introduced legislation that would reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act--
  • 99:55 - 100:00
    the outdated law that formed the majority of the charges against Swartz.
  • 100:00 - 100:03
    It's called "Aaron's Law".
  • 100:03 - 100:07
    Aaron believed that you literally ought to be asking yourself all of the time:
  • 100:07 - 100:11
    What is the most important thing I could be working on in the world right now?
  • 100:11 - 100:13
    And if you're not working on that, why aren't you?
  • 100:13 - 100:15
    [Protesters] This is what democracy looks like!
  • 100:15 - 100:18
    [crowd chants] We are the people too!
  • 100:18 - 100:21
    Internet freedom's under attack, what do we do?
  • 100:21 - 100:22
    Stand up, fight back!
  • 100:22 - 100:25
    Internet freedom's under attack, what do we do?
  • 100:25 - 100:30
    Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Carmen Ortiz has got to go!
  • 100:34 - 100:37
    I wish we could change the past, but we cannot.
  • 100:37 - 100:40
    But we can change the future and we must.
  • 100:40 - 100:43
    We must do so for Aaron, we must do so for ourselves.
  • 100:43 - 100:49
    We must do so to make our world a better place, a more humane place,
  • 100:49 - 100:54
    a place where justice works, and access to knowledge becomes a human right. [applause]
  • 100:54 - 101:02
    So there was a kid, back in February, from Baltimore, fourteen years old,
  • 101:02 - 101:09
    who had access to JSTOR, and he'd been spelunking through JSTOR after reading something,
  • 101:09 - 101:15
    and he figured out a way to do early tests for pancreatic cancer,
  • 101:15 - 101:19
    and pancreatic cancer kills the shit out of you because we detect it way too late
  • 101:19 - 101:23
    by the time we detect it, it's already too late to do anything about it,
  • 101:23 - 101:28
    and he sent emails off to the entire oncology department at Johns Hopkins,
  • 101:28 - 101:31
    you know hundreds of them, and every--
    - [Interviewer] Did you say fourteen years old?
  • 101:31 - 101:35
    - Fourteen-year-old kid, yeah, and most of them ignored it but one of them sent him an email back,
  • 101:35 - 101:38
    and said this is not an entirely stupid idea, why don't you come on over?
  • 101:38 - 101:43
    This kid worked evenings and weekends with this researcher, and in February I heard him on the news
  • 101:43 - 101:48
    just a couple of weeks after Aaron died, when Aaron was in the news a lot..
  • 101:51 - 101:54
    Sorry...
  • 101:54 - 102:00
    and he said the reason he was on the news was 'cause they'd done it. They were shipping
  • 102:00 - 102:03
    an early test for pancreatic cancer that was going to save lives,
  • 102:03 - 102:10
    and he said, "This is why what Aaron did was so important."
  • 102:10 - 102:15
    Because you never know, right? This truth of the universe is not only something
  • 102:15 - 102:20
    that policymakers use to figure out, you know, what the speed limit should be.
  • 102:20 - 102:26
    It's where the thing that's gonna keep your kid from dying of pancreatic cancer comes from,
  • 102:26 - 102:32
    and without access, the person who might come up with the thing that's got your number on it,
  • 102:32 - 102:35
    may never find that answer.
  • 102:36 - 102:45
    He slept so well, he didn't fall out of the tree, not even when he dreamed he was back on the spacecraft.
  • 102:48 - 102:51
    [Aaron's dad] Very good, Aaron. Very good. Yay, Aaron!
  • 102:51 - 102:54
    Okay, now it's song time.
  • 102:57 - 103:12
    ♪ ♪ ♪
  • 103:26 - 103:32
    [credits]
  • 104:44 - 104:45
    [the end]
Titre:
The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz
Description:

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Langue de la vidéo:
English
Durée:
01:45:00
  • I think the English version is more or less complete now.

    Let's review it and try to consistently apply the recommendations listed in the Guidelines box.

  • Hi there,

    I'm one of the French contributors to the French subtitles, and I noticed something that might be a (tiny) mistake in the English subtitles. Here are the present subtitles around 87:28:

    87:28 - 87:31 I was a federal prosecutor at the Justice Department for three years.
    87:31 - 87:34 Before I started teaching, the government came forward
    87:34 - 87:38 with an indictment based on what crimes they thought were committed,

    The guy's tone is a bit misleading, but there is a little silence after "teaching", sufficient for me to think that in fact, the first sentence stops there (and hence the 2nd begins), so IMHO he's in fact saying that:

    1) he was a federal prosecutor for 3 years before he started teaching, and
    2) the government came forward with an indictment based on what crimes they thought were committed, etc. etc.

    So there should be a comma (or nothing) after "three years", and a full stop after "teaching".

    Furthermore, with the present punctuation, the second sentence is a bit weird: why would it be important to state that the government came forward with Aaron's indictment before this guy started teaching ? Strange, isn't it ? ;-)

    As one of the golden rules in subtitling is that only natives of a language should change the subtitles in that language, I leave it up to you to review my comments, and agree... or not. ;-)

    Best regards,

    Bruno

  • bruno.treguier Yeah, that makes much more sense. I think it's fixed now. Let me know if you find anything else.

    Also, at 13:13 to 13:23, we had "LD documents" for the longest time, but I looked into it, and I'm pretty sure it should be "Eldred documents" so I changed it fairly recently. I'm not sure if it's been changed in the other languages, though.

    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/openlaw/eldredvashcroft/legal.html

    It's great that this important documentary has been translated into so many languages!

    Thanks :)

  • Hi lauren3467,

    I'll sure let you know if I notice something else that should be changed.

    Regarding "LD" vs "Eldred", yeah, it's very difficult to catch what Aaron and his interviewer are precisely saying at that moment but I think you're perfectly right ! The "Eldred v. Ashcroft" oral argument at the Supreme Court, which precisely is about copyright, took place at the end of 2002/beginning of 2003, which fits perfectly !

    Best regards,

    Bruno

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