Aaron Swartz RIP

January 14th, 2013 by donnek Leave a reply »

This is an extremely sad event. I have written the following to the President of MIT, Rafael Reif:

I am a UK citizen, but I am writing to express my disgust and horror over the
way MIT has behaved in the matter of the death of Aaron Schwartz.

While there is some debate over the methods Schwartz used, there can be none
over his motives – they were based on a desire to ensure that knowledge is
available to all, without artificial barriers of price or being part of a
privileged elite.

I would have thought that an institution like MIT would have recognised and,
if not acquiesced in, at least not opposed this concept. Doesn’t the very
word “university” share the same Latin root as “universal”?

JSTOR, to its credit, decided to adopt a low-key approach to this “crime”,
but, to its eternal shame, MIT did not – it is an institution which appears to
have no conception of the meaning of the words “ethical” or “proportional”.

Non-US citizens like myself can only shake our heads in disbelief over the way
the US patent and copyright circus is poisoning the idea of “doing the right

What a sad day for American letters – that a university of MIT’s pedigree
should let its moral compass go so completely adrift.

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