Google Analytics


Tip Jar

Support Blog

Tip Jar

Wired State Amazon

« Creepy Internet of Things by Cisco Coming Around the Corner! | Main | "The Effect of Video Games on Young Minds" »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


blinded by the ipads light.

shiny wins... until one day you see past the glare... as a society we've only had about 5 years of it...

20 years more.. then maybe...


Except Swartz never "liberated" any of the journals he downloaded (which, as a Harvard fellow, he had every right to access). It's actually a strong possibility that his reasons for doing what he did had nothing to do with ideology since he had a long and well-documented interest in analyzing large sets of text for research purposes (getting computers to read human-readable language, for instance for purposes of translation, was one of his areas of research).

You're making the mistake of imputing to his actions reasons that you arrive at by looking at his past actions (ie PACER) and his associations (Lessig).

And calling it "hacking" is a stretch since he had access to every single journal article he downloaded. Even JSTOR recognized this.

Oh, and you keep referencing some six month plea offer, but what none of us are privy to is whether or not that deal had some sort of draconian probation condition attached to it, such as no owning a computer or mobile phone for X number of years. Considering the usual terms of those sorts of deals it wouldn't be surprising if it was unacceptable to someone whose life revolved around technology.

You refer to the libertarian-minded WSJ people as "young, hipster New York libertarian types, and not classic conservatives." This is a continuation of your constant delegitimization of young people, technologically-minded people and those who don't share your world-view.

You write that "[t]hey don't want to have their own uploading and downloading cramped in the slightest and they don't think there should be any friction involved in them moving any content they grab around on any device for any reason."

Have you considered that the -market- doesn't think there should be, either? There's a reason that Apple has mostly ditched DRM in iTunes and that a great deal of video content is available without DRM so it can be moved between PC and smartphone and tablet easily. The MARKET WANTS IT THAT WAY.

And the WSJ believes in the market.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Yes he most certainly *did* liberate them. This silly infantile notion that you leave the original when you steal a copy and therefore it "isn't stealing" is completely shallow and self-serving.

What you steal when you steal digital content is the ability to commodify and/or commercialize or make part of a walled garden that content. And that's okay to do. That's how communities are created and that's how livelihoods are made.

That communists want to smash the capitalist way of doing things -- and even the democratic socialist way of doing things in a university where JSTOR was free -- isn't news and isn't a surprise, just an obvious point that it's hard to get the technocommunists of today to admit.

It's hacking. Read the indictment. If he "had access" then...why did he attack MIT and not use Harvard, where he was registered? Why did he make a fake account? Why did he make a fake name? Why did he have to break into a closet where he was definitely trespassing even if the door happened not to be locked? Why did he have a bicycle helmet over his face to prevent the camera from identifying him? Why did he run from campus police?

You don't have a good answer for a single one of these obvious questions and you are morally bankrupt.

There isn't any draconian probation. THe deal was described *by his own lawyer, duh, in the Boston Globe and other Boston media*. Duh. It was six months of prison time and a guilty plea. People are imaginatively adding all sorts of things to that like "a lifetime ban from the computer profession" which a court would have an awfully hard time establishing. Honestly, the Fisking and outright LYING around this case are breath-taking.

It hardly "delegitimizes" somebody to call them what they are: young hipsters or young libertarians. The WSJ is acknowledged as the leading newspaper of our country. I read it every day, I don't "delegitimize" it. In your world, your 'progressives' get to run hate campaigns against everyone they hate in opposite political camps and even people who aren't sufficientlly politically correct like Hillary. Go take your "conscience" over to those delegitimizers, big guy. I believe in criticism and free speech; you're a repressive net nanny. I often find that "information wants to be free" types are; they have horridly rigid behaviour and ideological codes ready for all of us. No thanks.

The "market" is not God. I'm all for a free market and free enterprise and especially small business. But I don't take an uncritical Randian view of corporations and the market as such. For one, how much of a real market is the California business model? It's based on crime and theft -- stealing IP and then making lawyers chase Google and others for it. I'm hardly impressed with a market based on crime.

Apple hasn't "mostly ditched" DRM. That's something copyleftists constantly reference but it's silly given how many offers under DRM for paid music are all over the place. One reason Apple can get away with ditching it where it does ditch it is because they sell the expensive gadgets and then the content is a loss leader. Google is no different. Hardly a long-term business model unless you get the public to keep ditching their models every year, and people are increasingly not willing to do that because the expense is too great.

It isn't "the market" that wants or needs it that way. It's a hard core of affluent geeks who think they are the trendsetters for all of us. They aren't.

The WSJ has decided to throw in their lot with some of these people, as their editorial board and special features guys illustrate. That doesn't make it morally right. Hey, I bet you criticize Wal-mart and BP and other corporations *all the time*. You're a shameful hypocrite.

Cathiee McMillan

If he had a legal way to obtain the files.
He didn't need to hack into the systems of another school to remove them.
He did it that way to cover his tracks since he understood what he was wanting to do was illegal.
He could have downloaded all that stuff legally and post it using his own name why didn't he?

Because he knew it was illegal.
Its not that complex of an issue


Anyone who wants to understand the sick way in which corporate America is using the hacking movement as a means to realize its own super-libertarian political agenda, even though on the surface those agendas seem opposed, would do well to watch that video and read this blog post. It's also worth watching the film The Social Network and watch how Zuckerberg recruits "hackers" to become his chief engineers, by making them break into systems of various sorts--and then to note how rarely we hear of anyone hacking into Facebook. The "hackers" turn out to be great builders of airtight systems that it's really hard to get into, when you pay them enough.

I worked there, back in the mid-1990s, and WSJ Online is quite proud of being one of the very first newspapers to figure out how to put its content behind a paywall, and to monitor the web in general to make sure its content is not swiped (while letting certain parts out as advertising and loss-leaders). It should (but does not for most people) raise red flags to see an organization openly advocating a policy that it absolutely opposes in practice.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Dear Dgolumbia,

Thanks for stopping by, I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. I saw the film The Social Movement and you know, somehow I didn't focus on that idea of the hackers breaking into things -- I took it for granted -- but that's actually a great insight. Indeed, having Shawn Parker of Napster fame become involved was the quintessential copyleftist move.

I wonder if they really had that conscious plan and you may be right -- because FB is never hacked or even "down" in any significant way. Maybe it's too big to hack? That is, I hear all the time of individual pages of Russians or Uzbeks getting "hacked," but that's because the KGB type agencies use social-hacks or torture to get people's passwords. I see pages invaded by regime symps and groups ruined, but that's not the sort of hack as happened to Stratfor, etc. Maybe FB is just too diverse and sprawling now to hack per se, it's spread over many servers and countries.

Your comment inspires me to recall Cory Ondrejka from Second Life. He was like employee number three or four in Linden Lab and the Damien to Philip Rosedale's Cosmos. Cory was the one who wrote LSL, the enabling scripting language and coded the Lindex, the monetary trading system. But he also, to my immense consternation, very casually stood by and let a group of griefers from earlier forms of Anonymous (this was back in 2004-2005) come in and reverse-engineer the viewer code that was not open sourced at the time. As reverse engineering was a violation of the TOS, I found this outrageous. Why were some cool kids allowed to reverse engineer the browser and go around and stalk and harass people like me on god mode, reserved only for the mods, if you will, or Linden liaisons, and yet it wasn't a crime? Indeed, there was this knowing wink throughout the whole thing. I objected on the forums and at the town hall, and for my troubles, I was banned from the forums and booted from the town hall, can you imagine? I kept pointing out that the reverse engineers were exploiting the code to harass people and copy content, and they didn't want to hear it.

Then Cory open-sourced the viewer unexpectedly and many people felt all hell broke lose then. For the next few years, the creators and merchants of this online world, where some $450 million real dollars in sales take place with content and server rentals and services, struggled to deal with all the open source rogue viewers coded up that were designed to "copybot" content and override the DRM engineered into the world originally. Cory was uninterested in stopping copybot -- it took a riot by merchants and a mass closure of their stores in protest to get the company to deprecate it from the world.

That showed me how "the Internet" really works when it is real grass roots -- dress designers and prefab creators whose very livelihoods online depended on this virtual world -- female African-American entrepreneurs and young male Brazilians and Poles struggling to make a living online, and these assholes living in Mom's basement -- or even with jobs in big companies like IBM or Intel would steal their stuff "just because we can". It was my first glimpse of this world, and I hugely hated what I saw; the original leader of the reverse engineer group and the maker and inventor -- and seller! -- of copybot went on to work for Intel -- I am not kidding.

Cory himself quit evidently over the issue then of whether to release the *server* code. Say, it's one thing to have textures copyable in the viewer; it's another to have the products of the precious script kiddies then vulnerable, eh? Lots more geeks opposed *that*. It also really meant the valuation of the world would plunge -- the expensive scripted artificial intelligent life -- the pets -- was the most valuable product.

Cory went on to work at Sony, supposedly with some "new plan" about how they could make money by giving away their music online. Um, we were all waiting to see how that would work. I don't see that it did. Cory got his start in the Navy -- like the freaks who invented Tor in the Navy (about which I'm a big critic). And the symbiosis between the military, the open source movement, and big IT is very big and very corruptive and decivilizing, in my view.

Today, Cory is at Facebook as mobile CTO, one of the top tech people.

And he is working on the monetary system that will eventually make social media grow even more lucrative for its masters.

Cory is bright and amiable and I'm sure he doesn't think what he does is evil at all, but modern.

The WSJ has a great system because they have some loss-leaders coming into an email you can get for free, some articles open by links on social media, but also the pay wall. And I'm all for that.

They do mention the fact that the WSJ itself has a paywall in that video. They do make a nod about IP. Yet they still seem to want to exonerate Swartz, as if the political nature of a hack gives you a pass.


yes, I'd had trouble getting the whole video to play before, and I actually don't see the contradiction I'd mentioned earlier nearly as deeply as my post above suggests--the two commentators seem to have a fairly reasonable grasp on the value of IP and not really to be promoting Swartz, except when the interviewer (who can't even be bothered to pronounce Swartz's name right? let alone her horrid comments on Uzbekistan women's rights, etc.) tries to steer them into it with leading questions (not as bad as China hacking into companies for corporate IP?--the guy looks dazed, "well, relatively, I suppose, if you put it that way...").

As to Facebook's vulnerability to hacking, it's true that individual accounts get hacked all the time, both by social hacking & technical means, the same way any other user/password accounts get swiped. But Facebook as a site/platform has rarely if ever been hacked, and that's precisely because, as your Second Life example suggests, in most cases what (pre-employment!) "hacking" by young people turns into is a great skill advertisement for getting hired by big companies, who then put them to work (in part) on making their fortresses as walled-off as humanly possible.

you even read stories about this in the media occasionally (also see "Certified Ethical Hackers," which is mostly a movement of hackers finding work as security professionals to keep out other hackers). Here's one story about Facebook's employees being encouraged to use their hacker skills just this way:

Catherine Fitzpatrick

I've watched the video a few times. I think they in fact are sophisticated in giving this clever nod to IP -- after all, they work for a paywall company! But their hearts aren't really in it at all.

And I think the premise that if you hack for political goals and not personal gain that you are somehow exonerated just doesn't wash with me.

Yes, I agree the moderator steers them and that fellow looks like he's a deer in the headlights...

I don't want to make a huge amount over this piece of WSJ ephemera, but I do think that they are going overboard to give Swartz a pass I don't think he should get.

Then when you add in L. Crovitz, a very big Google booster, you find more of this sentiment.

I had higher hopes for WJS after I read the book on MySpace by Julie Angwin. I thought that was the state of the art book revealing the craven cynicism of the types in Silicon Valley. But then she went rather light on WikiLeaks and Anonymous, I think out of libertarian beliefs that float around those editorial offices.

This is typical of her tweets:

Julia Angwin ‏@JuliaAngwin

About to go on WNYC's @LeonardLopate show to discuss US govt terrorism data collection program.

She's been up at arms over what she sees as overreach of monitoring of social media/the Internet for terrorists and terrorism. I'm less upset about this than she is. You may not agree. A separate topic. But they seem to go hand-in-hand.

This kind of re-tweet is just way too gushing and enthusiastic from the infamous kaepora, whose name stands for "kiddie porn":

Julia Angwin ‏@JuliaAngwin

This is great RT @kaepora: This is an amazing infographic on how Tor and HTTPS change the way you use the Internet:

I'm HUGELY critical of Tor, Jacob Appelbaum, etc. -- again on ethics grounds.

I think she's one of those women of a certain age that just gets a little too enthusiastic over these script kiddies. I don't suffer from that problem at all.

Catherine Fitzpatrick


just wanted to thank you for that SL story--I hadn't known about it, and it's really a perfect instance of the open-source ideology and what people who follow it really want (even if, as you rightly say, they are mostly "script kiddies" and haven't thought through what they want very thoroughly at all).

And the TOR links--I've been critical of that project myself, both for its Navy origins and the State Department endorsement of it ("democracy" and "Facebook revolutions" which turn out to mean, other countries doing what the US wants them to do) but you've dug up some fairly explosive stuff there that I hadn't know about.

dent jaune

Hello, I enjoy reading all of your article. I like to write a little comment to support you.


One of the issues with academic journals, is that most of the research is funded with public money, or charitable donations. Then the researchers post their articles to journals, which turn around and charge extortionate fees (rents) to access said research material that was funded by the public in the first place.

I don't see how that can be justified any longer, sure maybe two decades ago when journals had to be printed, shipped etc, but the internet should fundamentally reduce the costs of access to such material.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

1. It doesn't matter if the research is funded with public money. This is such a fake analogy and I'm so tired of hearing it. Let's say you are given a grant from the Ford or the McArthur foundations to research a topic. That sustains you for a year. But then to publish your book, you will need to find a university press or commercial press to accept your book. They didn't get your grant; you did. You lived on it for a year; now what? The publishing houses have costs in paper or even digital preparation, advertising, and distribution. So they charge money for their book -- they give you an advance, and they collect sales money. All normal.

2. JSTOR also has costs even though it is a non-profit organization. It has staff for digitalizing and coding, computers, customer service, etc. What are they supposed to volunteer and not eat so you can live your collectivist dream?! It's so appalling ignorant to deprive the Internet of livelihoods. The fees aren't "extortionate," they're just high to reflect the value of the material and the costs. After all, for a nominal subscription fee, JSTOR makes everything available endlessly FOR FREE to students and professors in universities.

3. Of course it can be justified. It goes on, despite your wishes. If you want to create a collective farm, create one. Take all those professors who distributed their PDFs for free and ask if they'd like to keep doing that, forever, and find more people. Ask them not only to give up their articles for free; ask them to stop writing and publishing books for money, too. Go ahead, see how many takers you get.

The comments to this entry are closed.


Follow on Twitter

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter
    Blog powered by Typepad