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Tue January 15, 2013
Funeral Services Held for Aaron Swartz
Funeral services were held in Illinois today for Aaron Swartz, the computer prodigy who committed suicide last Friday.
Swartz created key elements of the internet's publishing infrastructure, but faced prosecution for using MIT computers to download millions of copyrighted academic articles.
Swartz was an advocate for what's known as an "open internet." In May, he made this speech to explain the challenges facing the Internet.
"There's a battle going on right now — a battle to define everything that goes on on the Internet in terms of traditional things that the law understands,” Swartz said at the time. “Is sharing a video on BitTorrent like shoplifting from a movie store? or is it like loaning a video tape to a friend? Is reloading a web page over and over again like a virtual peaceful sit in or a violent smashing of shop windows? Is the freedom to connect like freedom of speech or like the freedom to murder?"
Swartz’s family says both MIT and the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz contributed to his death.
Swartz's mentor and friend, Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School Professor talked to the WGBH program "The Takeaway."
"What Aaron saw was his wealth had been bled dry, his parents were going to mortgage their house to try to pay for lawyers, to try to pay for the trails," Lessig said. "While anyone who takes their own life does irreparable harm to people they love, on the other hand, in this context, things seemed bleak, bleak because of the bullying of the government."
Swartz had faced up to 35 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines. MIT says it will investigate its involvement in the case.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said that out of respect for the family it would not comment at this time.