JSTOR Evidence in United States vs. Aaron Swartz
July 30, 2013
JSTOR is a not-for-profit digital library. Our mission is to expand access to scholarly knowledge worldwide and to preserve it for future generations. Between late September 2010 and early January 2011, someone downloaded 4.8 million articles from JSTOR—about 80% of our entire database—using the MIT network. People around the world now know that the person responsible was Aaron Swartz, that the United States government opted to prosecute Mr. Swartz, and that the criminal case came to an end with Mr. Swartz’s tragic suicide in January 2013. At the time of the downloading, we had no idea who was responsible.
What Mr. Swartz did was extremely serious from our perspective. Following his arrest, we made contact with Mr. Swartz and learned that he had retained and was prepared to return the copies of all the articles that he had downloaded, and we entered into a civil settlement with him. We told the United States Attorney’s Office that we had no further interest in the matter and did not want to press charges. Subsequently a criminal case was brought against Mr. Swartz by the United States Attorney’s Office, and he was indicted on felony charges in July 2011.
There is great public interest in this case and a desire for more information that might lead to a fuller understanding of what happened and why. We support that interest and favor open review and discussion of these events. We have cooperated fully with investigations conducted into this matter by a review panel of MIT faculty and by a committee of the United States House of Representatives.
During the criminal case, the federal government subpoenaed certain records from JSTOR. We are posting here records that we produced for the government. These materials include approximately 300 emails as well as charts, graphs, and other attachments, primarily reflecting JSTOR’s contemporaneous response to the downloading as it occurred. To provide context, we have also provided a summary of events that occurred, referencing and linking to documents throughout, to shed light on what happened as we experienced it.
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