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Stop the Anti-Piracy movement concocted by the Australian Federal Court

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Some of you may have heard of a man called Aaron Swartz, some may have not. Swartz was an incredibly intelligent, intellectual and a man with a bright future in Information Technology and Software Engineering. Or HAD, had a bright future. Unfortunately, Swartz's life was cut short by his own hand after he hung himself after being taken to court over piracy charges which totaled over $1,000,000 or 35 years in prison, asset forfeiture, restitution, and supervised release.

The long story:
Aaron Swartz was a Stanford University student who believed in the ideology that the internet should not be controlled by power-hungry politicians and corporations that were wanting to look for a few more dollars to put in their pockets. Aaron Swartz was a very capable student, creating 5 pieces of software over the course of his studentship. During his time in uni, he discovered an unmarked and unlocked closet (thought to be the janitor's closet) where he set up a laptop and hard drive and began torrenting vast amounts of educational journal articles and academic journals. Swartz wanted to download every possible academic journal available from JSTOR (a for-profit, paid website dedicated to distributing electronic textbooks and scholarly references) and upload it to the internet via a self-made website. Why? Because he believed that information, education and intelligence should not be limited by corporate greed. However, the FBI were notified of Swartz's actions and arrested him. He was sent to court for two counts of wire fraud and eleven violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. His punishment would have been a lot less harsh if he had pleaded guilty, however he did not wish to have a criminal record. When all hope was lost and his plea was denied, he took his own life.

You may ask yourself, what crimes did he commit? Is free education a crime? Was such a huge penalty really worth it? Did he deserve it?
I hope the answer is obvious to you.

In my honest opinion, education should not be a vessel for the rich to earn more and more income as thousands of students nationwide and worldwide struggle to even purchase half of their textbooks for university. I'm only in my second semester of university and my chemistry and business textbooks over the course of 1 year have totaled $400 (excluding textbooks which I deemed unnecessary and eBooks which would have cost an extra $500) and I think that is a disgrace. A single chemistry textbook (the largest I own) is $140 and that is $140 too much.

It doesn't stop there; lawyers, criminal forensics, criminal psychologists, law enforcement and the judiciary could also benefit. Given that the price of simply attaining a single criminal's record is $0.10, those 10 cents will eventually add up over time. The court system could end up spending an accrued $20,000AUD per year buying documents for thieves alone.

What if you are a scientist who needs a plethora of scholarly sources for your report only to find out that the only way to get the information you need is by buying a full version of a report written by someone else? Even worse, what happens if the information you want is not in the report you bought? Or just not what you were looking for?

The possibilities are endless but the worst of all would be the paid education aspect of piracy. Just imagine, a career in business being only a few clicks and a few months of dedicated reading away; without the need for paying for textbooks and throwing away $40,000 just to go to university. The 'Stop Online Piracy Act' (SOPA) introduced by L. Smith was a failed act for a reason. It was abandoned by the U.S Government and boycotted nationwide for a reason - it just would not work. If you bite the head of the hydra, it will grow two back.

When will the Australian Federal Government keep up with the U.S and step out of the shadow of ignorance? When will we become a nation dedicated to promoting free education over corporate greed? It is almost exactly like free healthcare - a basic human right. No one should be denied free education and it is about time we, as Australian people, fought for our freedom in unison against the tyranny that is organisational rapacity.

So I ask you, finally, we have worked for two entire decades developing a system that gives each of us the ability and power to express ourselves. It seems as though this is yet another force-field that the government has inflicted upon the populace to enable more control over those who have the least of the say. Why is it that the uneducated of the internet are the ones who call all the shots? Why is it that we must bow down to those who do NOT understand the concept of the World Wide Web? It has grown with us and nourished within our generation, it is a part of the human race now and we must treat it as such. Let us not allow the old and frail politicians dictate what they obviously cannot even comprehend: the power, influence and capability that is the internet. Please stand with me, this freedom of expression is the last of society's public anonymity and under no circumstances should the avarice of political order befall it.



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