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There's a Reddit AMA on the Law That Aaron Swartz Broke—And It's Happening Right Now There's a Reddit AMA on the Law That Aaron Swartz Broke—And It's...

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There's a Reddit AMA on the Law That Aaron Swartz Broke—And It's Happening Right Now


Aaron Swartz, in New York,  Dec. 8, 2012.  (AP Photo/ThoughtWorks, Pernille Ironside)

It's not every day you see a group AMA — the no-holds-barred Q&A session that periodically takes place on Reddit. But right now, Lawrence Lessig, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman (Aaron Swartz's partner), and Tim Berners-Lee have all gotten together to take your questions on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the law that Swartz allegedly ran afoul of when he downloaded millions of articles from the academic website JSTOR without permission. According to the law's would-be reformers, the CFAA should be updated so that violations of terms-of-service agreements can't lead to criminal prosecution and so that "low-level offenses aren't punished by an overbearing heavy-handed regime."

It's a little hard to follow who's who with all the usernames floating around, so here's a guide to the folks taking your questions, courtesy of Reddit:

    Tiffiniy Cheng (FFTF)=textdog; David Segal (Demand Progress)=davidadamsegal; Trevor Timm (EFF)=trevorEFF; Jennifer Granick (Stanford)=Granick; Ryan Radia (CEI)-ryanradia; Taren=tarensk; Marvin=Amarv1n; Orin Kerr (GWU)=OrinKerr; Mark Jaycox (EFF)=MarkEFF; Cindy Cohn (EFF)=CindyEFF; Josh Levy (Free Press)=levjoy; Tim Berners-Lee (WWW inventor)=timbl

Some of the best responses so far have been the ones that admit the law is complex and there isn't just a bad guy called Big Copyright. Here's George Washington University's Orin Kerr:

    Some major companies like a broad CFAA because they see themselves as victims of people trying to steal their data and trade secrets. They want to make sure there is a remedy to go after people who steal their data and secrets, and some see a broad CFAA as a way to ensure that. And at least some of those same companies are are also copyright holders. At the same time, I don't think it's generally true that "big copyright holders" favor CFAA expansion. (Although maybe it depends on who/what is a "big copyright holder.")

There's still time to get your questions in, so do so now.

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