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"Is sharing a video on Bit Torrent like shoplifting from a movie store, or is it like loaning a videotape to a friend?
Is the freedom to connect like the freedom of speech, or like the freedom to murder?
The case was scheduled to go to trial in April, and if he lost, Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison.
Rarely did he talk about the mental and financial toll his legal battles had taken, so it was difficult even for those closest to him to know how much it was weighing on him.
Wikileaks claimed him as an ally, while Anonymous, the vigilante hacker collective, took over a number of websites, converting them into makeshift shrines. Killed because he was forced into playing a game he could not win."Swartz himself had been among the most eloquent thinkers about the free- culture movement and the rifts it had created between old and new, analog and digital.
"There's a battle going on right now, a battle to define everything that happens on the Internet in terms of traditional things the law understands," he stated in May 2012, in a keynote speech given at the Freedom to Connect Conference.
"And very quickly we both realized that this was something that was going to change everything." He immersed himself in numerous websites as a kid, among them one called the Info Network, a user-generated encyclopedia he built in 1999, when he was 12 years old.
"It was basically Wikipedia, except long before Wikipedia had launched," he would say later.On his blog, Raw Thought, Swartz had gained a cult following of fans of his nuanced, erudite, sometimes stubborn and often hilarious riffs on everything from his crushes on girls to his clashes with colleagues to his philosophical musings. But as the suicide became an international news story, and as the details of his prosecution were released, the swell of grief was overtaken by waves of anger, of bitterness – a collective sense that his actions could not be understood solely as those of a deeply troubled young man."Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy," declared his family in a public statement.He taught himself to read at age three, and by elementary school he was building and programming an ATM for a class project."I don't think I have any particular technical skills – I just got a really large head start," he would remark years later, displaying the streak of false modesty that became one of his most dominant traits, one that could charm and exasperate in equal measure.Though he became a thin and sinewy adult, in youth he was doughy around the middle and reluctant to look at himself in mirrors.