Much of the discussion following the death of Aaron Swartz relates to the issue of disproportionate prosecution.Legal heavyweights and online activists discuss whether Massachusetts prosecutors were pursuing him overzealously, and the nature of Swartz’s alleged crimes when he downloaded 4 million articles from JSTOR, an archive to which he had legitimate access. Swartz faced up to 35 years in jail for downloading the articles. The prosecutor responsible for the pursuit of Swartz, Carmen Ortiz, last week tried to wash her hands of responsibility for his death.Whatever the legal and procedural merits of Ortiz’s pursuit of Swartz, aggressive over-prosecution is normally the fate of anyone deemed to be an online activist.
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