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JAN 24, 2013 - The Economist

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Criminal justice and the courts: Thumb on the scale

AARON SWARTZ , who committed suicide two weeks ago, had been arrested for illegally downloading millions of articles from JSTOR, an archive of academic journals. Once Mr Swartz had returned the material and promised not to distribute or use it, JSTOR pressed no charges. That did not mollify federal prosecutors. They charged him with 13 felony counts, including wire fraud, computer fraud and criminal forfeiture. Then they offered him a deal familiar to criminal defendants everywhere: plead guilty, and get off relatively easily—in his case, six months in a “low security setting”—or take your ... Read More

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