Internet activist Aaron Swartz dead at 26

An internet activist, a guerrillero in the online guerrilla war for open access to our collectively produced but privately owned knowledge, open access to academic literature sold by corporations like Jstor. Accused for his actions of trying to upload millions of papers for free, he hung himself at 26 says the news.

According to his family (AlJazeera quotes): “[Aaron’s death] is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”

Aaron Swartz 1986 – 2013

From an article (24/7/’12) on this website:

Swartz got arrested in 2011 for illegally downloading 4.8 million privately owned academic papers, but others got away with similar acts. Swartz had announced his guerrilla action in his Guerrilla ‘Open Access’ Manifesto (2008):

The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. […] But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back. Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. […] It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture. We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access. With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?


  • News on
  • “Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy,” a statement from Swartz’s family said on Saturday.
  • blog post for the Guardian on Swartz’ death