Free Culture, Copyright, and Aaron Swartz

This week’s episode of On the Media has a long story about Aaron Swartz and his legacy. It winds its way through the Free Culture movement, copyright law, intellectual freedom and property (a bit), the case for and against Aaron, and lots of surrounding background. Based on Justin Peters’ book The Idealist, the story is worth the thirty minutes it takes to listen.

Yes, I’m biased. I often find myself thinking about Aaron Swartz this time of year, though not for the same reasons some of you might think about him. I remember him puzzling with the MIT Mystery Hunt team I’m on. As I’ve said before, I knew him casually from a few different activities we had in common. While driving to a meeting during On the Media’s Saturday slot, I caught the first ten minutes of the story about Aaron as I arrived. As much as I wanted to get to the meeting, I thought, “Well, the story may only be a few minutes more, and it’s very interesting, so I’ll sit in the car and listen.” After it wrapped up after another twenty minutes, I sat in the car a bit longer to let my brain settle, deciding how to blog it and trying to get my concentration back for the meeting.

I’m sure I’ve said before On the Media inspires me to write almost every week. I don’t always follow through, but I often find myself thinking “I should blog that” when I listen. For Aaron and his legacy, I wanted to be sure to actually make it to my blog this time.

Three years after his death, ripples from his life’s work are still being noticed, people are still talking about him, and we still remember who he was.

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