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Posted by on Jan 13, 2013 in Business, Education, Featured, Health, Media, Mental Health, Passages, Politics, Science & Technology, Society | 6 comments

JSTOR Issues Statement About Aaron Swartz’ Suicide

Jstor is the company that Aaron was alleged to have stolen thousands of pages of files from. Aaron took his life this week. He was 26 years old, in the bloom of youth. He’d suffered from depression for a long time. He was going to go to trial on several allegations of illegal activity in April. JSTOR aggregates literally hundreds of journal literary and research articles and more… and charges a large annual fee for university libraries to have whole access, limiting free access to the articles carried by many libaries, museums and research institutions for those who are not affiliated with any of those. It appears that recent pressure has caused JSTOR to rethink access a bit. Time shall tell. Not sure about piggybacking giving sympathy for the death of a young person while also explaining/defending one’s business model. But, here tis: This is JSTOR’s statement from their website.

Aaron Swartz
We are deeply saddened to hear the news about Aaron Swartz. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Aaron’s family, friends, and everyone who loved, knew, and admired him. He was a truly gifted person who made important contributions to the development of the internet and the web from which we all benefit.

We have had inquiries about JSTOR’s view of this sad event given the charges against Aaron and the trial scheduled for April. The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset, since JSTOR’s mission is to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge. At the same time, as one of the largest archives of scholarly literature in the world, we must be careful stewards of the information entrusted to us by the owners and creators of that content. To that end, Aaron returned the data he had in his possession and JSTOR settled any civil claims we might have had against him in June 2011.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service and a member of the internet community. We will continue to work to distribute the content under our care as widely as possible while balancing the interests of researchers, students, libraries, and publishers as we pursue our commitment to the long-term preservation of this important scholarly literature.

We join those who are mourning this tragic loss.

Aaron’s last name was mispelled as Schwartz in the first draft of this article. The proper spelling is Swartz. The Headline has been corrected.

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  • epiphyte

    I have a bright and socially-aware 14 year-old son. If he were to grow up to have the accomplishments and world-view that Aaron Swartz had, I would be immensely proud. How can it be that such a person is hounded to death, even as those who made billions by causing untold misery get off scott-free?

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    I dont know epiphyte. I dont know or understand how a man with family can be put in jail for five years, and another man with penthouse lawyers can do community service for the same. Your question is a good one, whether about the bank bail outs years ago when execs came to pick up their checks in their private aeroplanes, and yet at the same time working class homeowners were foreclosed on by those very banks pumped with new bloated bailout money. I know it is important to keep asking the questions, to keep it above the water line. Keep doing that epiphyte. I know there are groups, in legal, for instance, who study and push back about the seemingly frivolous nature of a good deal of sentencing for certain crimes. They keep it above the water line. Let’s do that as much as is within our reach.

    I see in the MIT statement, the seeming guilt of having pursued Aaron legally about various breaches at MIT. I’m not sure we all understand that stress and pressure yes, can cause a deeply depressed person to think there is no hope. But, for the deeply depressed, it could be that, and/or anything, including an argument with a lover, someone else’s exasperation with them, a sleight, an insult. We often do not know what is ‘the final trigger.’ And perhaps most bewildering of all, often it seems the person who took their life and left a note, seemingly wasnt able to say ‘why this, why now,’ either.

    I love that you praise your son. That is just right. I sense there will be wonderful accomplishes for him with the mix of bright and socially aware. It is the future we are all contributing to in our own ways. Bitter and bright make for rancid and gloating incursions. Bright and caring and acting on that caring, being engaged, makes for much happiness–despite challenges– by all the principals involved. Just my .02

  • ShannonLeee

    It is too bad the the DOJ didn’t see this kid as the next Steve Jobs. Not only has a family lost a child, but society lost an innovator.

    what would he have done for mankind over the next 50 years????

  • Jim Satterfield

    The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset, since JSTOR’s mission is to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge.

    What a joke that part of their statement is. Based not only on your experience with them, Dr. E, but everything else I’ve read about them over the years.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    Agreed Jim. I think too, that the ‘old guard’ doesnt even see how closed they are. I think many of the older institutions lean too far into that ‘time-honored’ narrow definition of who is most intelligent, therefore most worthy to ‘receive’ the transmissions. You’re right, those words ‘widespread’ are not being lived up to. I hold hope, they and others will change; I would like fair access to research papers for reasonable price, and in the case as others have said of taxpayer funded research, free access entirely and instantly, including interim project reports when the project is supported by taxpayer money.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    Your thoughts ShannonLee about Aaron being of similarity to Jobs, made me cry. From how I know Aaron, you hit it better than I’ve heard it said yet. Thank you.

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