TJ is a writer living in Portland, OR.

Aaron Swartz

I remember when SOPA and PIPA were going through congress, but the movement behind stopping them was very abstract to me. It never really occurred to me that there was anyone behind the movement, I signed the petitions and talked with my friends about it, but I never really know WHO was doing it. 

Last week Aaron Swartz, one of the founders of Demand Progress which organized the movement to block the passage of SOPA and PIPA, committed suicide. Swartz was facing thirteen felony charges from the government for downloading millions of academic articles from JSTOR (a digital library) possibly with the intent of distributing them on the internet.

That is a legacy that has been brought to us by the history of people doing interesting work, the history of scientists. It’s a legacy that should belong to us as a commons, as a people, but instead it’s been locked up and put online by a handful of for-profit corporations who then try and get the maximum profit they can out of it.
— Aaron Swartz

Swartz had a few other accomplishments to his name, he was a co-founder of Reddit, helped create RSS, and launched Creative Commons. Democracy Now! covered Swartz's death, his impending trial, and played a speech Swartz gave about his time fighting SOPA. I enjoyed Swartz's speech, to hear how a mass movement of citizens organized and stood up to congress, it gives you hope that positive change is possible.   We owe Aaron Swartz a debt of gratitude. 


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