Ralph Spoilsport writes: Aaron Swartz committed suicide. As a teenager, he helped create an early version of RSS and later played a key role in stopping a controversial online piracy bill in Congress. He also downloaded zillions of articles from JSTOR. JSTOR declined to press charges. MIT, where it happened, gave less of a clear signal, so the Feds went after him. They wanted him bad for his efforts re: RECAP, a system that gave Americans access to their own (public domain) case-law. He was arrested and charged with felonies. He committed suicide two years to the day of his arrest. Lessig gives his testimonial here and Cory Doctorow gives tribute to this young tragic genius here. This is an enormous tragedy and blow to Access To Knowledge activists the world over.
Ralph Spoilsport writes: A coalition of 17 publishing companies has shut down library.nu and ifile.it, charging them with pirating ebooks. This comes less than a month after megaupload was shut down, and SOPA was stopped. If the busting of cyberlockers continues at this pace and online library sharing dismantled, this under-reported story may well be the tip of a very big iceberg — one quite beyond the P&L sheets of publishers and striking at basic human rights as outlined in the contradictions of the UN Charter. Is this a big deal — a grim coalition of corporate power? Or just mopping up some scurvy old pirates? Or somewhere in between? Those concerned with the future of file sharing should watch these events closely.
Ralph Spoilsport writes: Proponents of marijuana legalization, which is on the California ballot in 2010, have hit a Facebook wall in their effort to grow an online campaign to rethink the nation's pot laws. Facebook initially accepted ads from the group Just Say Now, running them from August 7 to August 16, generating 38 million impressions and helping the group's fan page grow to over 6,000 members. But then they were abruptly removed. Should the phone company prevent phone calls on pot legalisation? If not, then what makes Facebook so special?