Ommunication and Emerging Technologies: Open Access, Piracy, and the Public Domain
a?In July 2011, [Aaron Swartz] 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. Swartzas
death, carrying potential penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.a?
The case of Aaron Swartz is a story of a brilliant but troubled young entrepreneur
turned activist, who was committed to developing new models for public access to
intellectual works. It is also a story about piracy and political hactivism, and raises
challenging questions about how our current structures of copyright protection are
eroding our public domain.
Develop a critical analysis of the topics presented in the case regarding piracy, open
access, and how the technological environment of the Internet challenges our
understanding of protecting intellectual and creative goods. In developing this paper,
think about why the government had such an extreme response in prosecuting Swartzas
actions (think about the timing); whose interests are being protected by vigorous
prosecution of digital piracy; and whether 20th century models of copyright protection
are sustainable in digital eras. Discuss issues about the technologies underlying copyright
in digital realms, as well as the industry, legal or policy environments.
You must reference at least 1 of the 2 readings in this paper: Lessig (2004) on copyright,
piracy, and the public domain, or Wikstrom (2010) on copyright in music industries.
You may incorporate other references or reading, as well, particularly material from the
lecture, or from other courses you have taken.
Key terms: copyright, open access, property, piracy, political hactivism, public domain
1. Lessig (2004) Free Culture (p. 179)
2. Wikstrom (2010) The Music Industry
Format: The paper should be no more than 4 double-spaced pages, using 12-point font
and 1a? margins. Proper citations and references must be included. Any type of
plagiarism is considered academic dishonesty, and will be penalized.
These are the readings: