Why Aaron Swartz Was Wrong

Tia Schmitz
Chris Ruen, the author of Freeloading: How Our Insatiable Hunger for Free Content Starves Creativity, wrote a fantastic essay for the current issue of Seattle Weekly, in which he respectfully takes issue with many of the positions taken by the late Aaron Swartz, the Internet freedom activist who is being turned into a martyr for the cause by his supporters. It's a must-read, especially if you believe that music and information should be free for the taking. A couple notable passages include:

Swartz dreamed of a time when all the world's information was available free online, unconstrained by governments, corporations, or gatekeepers of any kind. Like others in the technology sector, Swartz viewed copyright--the right of creators to decide for a limited time how their work is distributed--as a threat to the information utopia he craved. He was wrong. Not only that, but the battles he won for Internet "freedom" overwhelmingly moved power from the people into the hands of the very corporate powers he sought to free information from.


The more artists can trust that their fans will support them and respect their rights, the less desperate and reliant upon corporate or state patronage they'll be. We shouldn't be surprised that the age of music freeloading coincided with a spike in corporate patronage of "indie" musicians in the form of branding, advertising campaigns, and even "record labels" run by the likes of Mountain Dew and Scion.

Read the whole thing: "The Misplaced Zeal of Aaron Swartz."

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