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Aaron Swartz: How We Stopped SOPA

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Published on Aug 17, 2012

Aaron H. Swartz (November 8, 1986 -- January 11, 2013) speaking at ThoughtWorks August 16, 2012, tells how a tiny number of online activists managed to defeat SOPA, the Internet censoring bill, pushed by the entertainment industry, which had spent hundreds of millions of dollars per year trying to get it passed.

Aaron Swartz, 26, was found dead Jan 11, 2013 in his New York apartment, an apparent suicide. He had apparently hanged himself. Swartz's girlfriend discovered the body.

Aaron Swartz became an Internet folk hero, pushing to make many Web files free and open to the public. But in July 2011, he was indicted on federal charges of gaining illegal access to JSTOR, a subscription-only service for distributing scientific and literary journals, and downloading 4.8 million articles and documents, nearly the entire library.

Charges in the case, including wire fraud and computer fraud, were pending at the time of Mr. Swartz's death, carrying potential penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines. Lawrence Lessig of the Safra Center at Harvard who worked for a time on behalf of Swartz's legal defense denounced the federal bullying: Why was it so necessary Aaron Swartz be labeled a felon? Legally, a felony requires an evil heart!

Camera, production: Joe Friendly

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