When too much knowledge becomes too much knowledge download:
As best as we can tell, Aaron Swartz is being charged with allegedly downloading too many journal articles from the Web. The government contends that downloading so many journal articles constitutes felony computer hacking and should be punished with time in prison. We disagree.
James Jacobs, the Government Documents Librarian at Stanford University — where Aaron did undergraduate work — denounced the arrest: “Aaron’s prosecution undermines academic inquiry and democratic principles,” Jacobs said. “It’s incredible that the government would try to lock someone up for allegedly looking up articles at a library.” [source]
If found guilty a sentence of 35 years in prison in addition to a fine of $1 million could be imposed, in response to the download of 5 million articles from the MIT library.
While the victim in the case, JSTOR, has stated that no loss of damage was suffered, the case is proceeding.
Simply, 35 years and $1 million seems an exorbitant price to pay for what could easily be a move towards freedom of information (which was the most likely the objective).
To find out more on the case and sign the petition against Swartz’s prosecution, click here.