Lawrence Lessig comments on Aaron Swartz trial and death

In this video, Harvard Law Professor (and professional Intellectual Property Law bad-ass) Lawrence Lessig comments on the death of his friend, Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide in January. Many, including Lessig, contend that it was the stress of an on-going lawsuit by the federal government against Swartz that led to his eventual suicide. Swartz was charged with 13 felonies for downloading most of the JSTOR database without MIT’s permission (JSTOR and, to a lesser extent, MIT, both concluded that they would not pursue legal action because he didn’t technically violate any policies or terms of use).

Swartz was an advocate for open source tools and freedom of information, as well as a tech innovator whose thumbprint graces the webpages of reddit,, and a slew of other sites. More info about Swartz can be seen here, here, and here.

Questions remain about why exactly Swartz killed himself¬†and how his death may send shockwaves through American law. It’s a good time to evaluate the state of IP law in this newly digital world, the rights we have as Americans to enact social change, and the importance of working towards a justice system that consistently lives up to its name.