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Loved it. A little academic at times but hugely interesting in taking us from the beginnings at copyright law with print in early America all the way up to Aaron Swartz and the internet/free culture today. Balanced too - doesn't attack anyone.
I read the Slate article by Peters that this book was based on a few months after Swartz death. I am not certain why this sad story captured my attention. I was vaguely aware of Schwartz before his death, I think because of my long time interest in Creative Commons and the SOPA/PIPA fights. But when I read of what seemed to be a senseless and unexpected suicide, I felt compelled to understand why someone so brilliant and talented believed that ending his life was his best option.
The book fleshes out the article. It does so by including a broad history of intellectual property rights in the US, background on the Library of Congress and brief overview's of the key characters in the last 200 years that have shaped our view of intellectual property, both the proponents and opponents.
The book did not delve much deeper into Aaron Swartz's short life or tragic death. It provided a little more background about his early years. But the many unanswered questions - like why did he download the JStore articles, what did he hope to accomplish and why did the US Attorney feel compelled to so drastically overreach in their charges- are not answered in this book. And the most tragic question - why did he feel compelled to end his life is also left unanswered.
However, after reading the book I believe that those questions were not answered, because there are no answers, at least as respects Swartz's actions. We will never understand it. I assume the US Attorney could provide an explanation for her excessive overkill actions in this case, but don't expect she ever will. So while this book revealed nothing new, I think it would have been unrealistic to expect it to. But I still recommend the book and believe it is worth reading, simply because we should never forget how fragile we are and how extra-fragile the truly gifted among us seem to be.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I am not qualified to comment on the complexities of sociology, nor am I learned enough to understand the entanglements of copyright law, but I can say that this is a story of tragedy, greed, love, passion, and politics.
Interesting segments of information management and Internet history color the tale of a brilliant mind subsumed by a society unable and incapable of accepting his positions however obvious they were.
The book is a must read for sociologists, librarians, industrialists, scientists and talented youth aspiring to make the ultimate difference ... and possibly save humanity from its clear course of repeating history yet again.