[PLUG] Creator of RSS passes away

ag@gmail amarendra.godbole at gmail.com
Fri Jan 18 20:07:43 IST 2013

On Jan 18, 2013, at 1:11 AM, Praveen A <pravi.a at gmail.com> wrote:

> 2013/1/15 ag at gmail <amarendra.godbole at gmail.com>:
>> Thanks for this article - from various reading I had the same opinion. I think social activists should as well stop playing Robin Hood... They do more harm to the open software movement than good by such antics!
> I disagree. He is an inspiration. It is like the civil rights movement
> and civil disobedience. Was Gandhi breaking the law when he made salt
> at Danti? Was Martin Luther King breaking the law when he broke
> segregation law? Yes, but those resulted in changing laws. And there
> is already a new law being proposed in the US House that would fix
> CFAA, the archaic law that was used against Aaron.
> http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/16njr9/im_rep_zoe_lofgren_im_introducing_aarons_law_to/
> What we need is more of Aaron Swartz.
> Downloading research papers, which should be public anyway, does not
> deserve jail term of 35 years nor a fine of over 1 million dollars. It
> is maximum a terms of use violation and JSTOR did not press charges
> further. And the trespassing charge was not pushed by MIT either. So
> it is just "making an example" by US government.
> From The Truth about Aaron Swartz’s “Crime”
> "I know a criminal hack when I see it, and Aaron’s downloading of
> journal articles from an unlocked closet is not an offense worth 35
> years in jail.
> The facts:
>    MIT operates an extraordinarily open network. Very few campus
> networks offer you a routable public IP address via unauthenticated
> DHCP and then lack even basic controls to prevent abuse. Very few
> captured portals on wired networks allow registration by any visitor,
> nor can they be easily bypassed by just assigning yourself an IP
> address. In fact, in my 12 years of professional security work I have
> never seen a network this open.
>    In the spirit of the MIT ethos, the Institute runs this open,
> unmonitored and unrestricted network on purpose. Their head of network
> security admitted as much in an interview Aaron’s attorneys and I
> conducted in December. MIT is aware of the controls they could put in
> place to prevent what they consider abuse, such as downloading too
> many PDFs from one website or utilizing too much bandwidth, but they
> choose not to.
>    MIT also chooses not to prompt users of their wireless network
> with terms of use or a definition of abusive practices.
>    At the time of Aaron’s actions, the JSTOR website allowed an
> unlimited number of downloads by anybody on MIT’s 18.x Class-A
> network. The JSTOR application lacked even the most basic controls to
> prevent what they might consider abusive behavior, such as CAPTCHAs
> triggered on multiple downloads, requiring accounts for bulk
> downloads, or even the ability to pop a box and warn a repeat
> downloader.
>    Aaron did not “hack” the JSTOR website for all reasonable
> definitions of “hack”. Aaron wrote a handful of basic python scripts
> that first discovered the URLs of journal articles and then used curl
> to request them. Aaron did not use parameter tampering, break a
> CAPTCHA, or do anything more complicated than call a basic command
> line tool that downloads a file in the same manner as right-clicking
> and choosing “Save As” from your favorite browser.
>    Aaron did nothing to cover his tracks or hide his activity, as
> evidenced by his very verbose .bash_history, his uncleared browser
> history and lack of any encryption of the laptop he used to download
> these files. Changing one’s MAC address (which the government
> inaccurately identified as equivalent to a car’s VIN number) or
> putting a mailinator email address into a captured portal are not
> crimes. If they were, you could arrest half of the people who have
> ever used airport wifi.
>    The government provided no evidence that these downloads caused a
> negative effect on JSTOR or MIT, except due to silly overreactions
> such as turning off all of MIT’s JSTOR access due to downloads from a
> pretty easily identified user agent.
>    I cannot speak as to the criminal implications of accessing an
> unlocked closet on an open campus, one which was also used to store
> personal effects by a homeless man. I would note that trespassing
> charges were dropped against Aaron and were not part of the Federal
> case.
> In short, Aaron Swartz was not the super hacker breathlessly described
> in the Government’s indictment and forensic reports, and his actions
> did not pose a real danger to JSTOR, MIT or the public. He was an
> intelligent young man who found a loophole that would allow him to
> download a lot of documents quickly. This loophole was created
> intentionally by MIT and JSTOR, and was codified contractually in the
> piles of paperwork turned over during discovery."
> Read the full report
> http://unhandled.com/2013/01/12/the-truth-about-aaron-swartzs-crime/
> [...]

So do I read it something like this: While walking on the street, I found an unlocked door to a bar and walked in, grabbed a bottle of vodka, gulped it down, and walked out. I was caught, since I was 17.

Now blame the bar for having its door unlocked or the person who forgot the bottle of vodka on the table. Don't every utter anything about underage drinking... (though it is illegal). Not exact, but you get the idea.

If JSTOR should be free - one should put efforts to gather those many articles on their own. Why steal? Another thing - part of JSTOR fees goes towards paying the authors of those articles, from what I read. By wanting it for free, you also deny rightful money to the very people who put their ideas on paper. I consider this abuse of the term Free... Gandhi did not take away salt from the British, it was rightfully given to those who owned it. In this case, the papers were not rightfully Aaron's or of public...

We don't need more Aarons, for sure.


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