Aaron Hillel Swartz (November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013) was an American computer programmer, writer, political organizer and Internet Hacktivist.
You may not have heard of Aaron Swartz but the internet has his fingerprints all over it. Swartz was one of the early architects of Creative Commons. He coauthored RSS, co-founded Reddit and helped build a free public library at Archive.org to name just a few things, all of which makes his death at the age of 26 even more tragic.
On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested by MIT police on state breaking-and-entering charges, after systematically downloading academic journal articles from JSTOR. Federal prosecutors later charged him with two counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, carrying a cumulative maximum penalty of $1 million in fines, 35 years in prison, asset forfeiture, restitution and supervised release.
Swartz refused a plea bargain under which he would serve six months in federal prison. Two days after the prosecution rejected a counter-offer by Swartz, he was found dead in his Brooklyn, New York apartment, where he had hanged himself.
In June 2013, Swartz was posthumously inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame.
Since his suicide in January 2013, Swartz has become a martyr for the freedom of online information (something he passionately supported during his lifetime) catapulting him to a status of reverence in many online circles.
As of yesterday, a new documentary titled ‘The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz’ detailing his life and death – which reviewers have noted is rather one-sided given the refusal of many of the story’s antagonists to participate – is now available to download.
The documentary is directed by Brian Knappenberger (We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists) represents an effort to bring Swartz’s story to a wider audience, one that is less steeped in the fight for unfettered access to information.
The video is available to rent for $6.99 and to buy for $9.99 from video provider Vimeo in a downloadable Creative Commons format which, contrary to what one would expect from CC content, is only available in the United States and Canada.
Cast and Credits
- Director: Brian Knappenberger
- Screenwriter: Brian Knappenberger
- Executive Producer: Brian Knappenberger
- Composer: John Dragonetti
- Associate Producers: Denise Gaberman, Jeffrey Kanjanapangka, Suzanne Danziger, Kate Coe
- Editors: Bryan Storkel, Michelle Witten, Jason Decker, Andy Robertson, Brian Knappenberger
- Contact: Brian Knappenberger / Luminant Media / firstname.lastname@example.org
There are of course several ways around the geo-fencing which you can consider to download the movie, although we have a sneaking suspicion that, in true Aaron Swartz style, the internet will find a way to distribute the video freely 🙂 Hahahaha
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