Psst! Downloading Isn't Stealing [for today]


ATTENTION: The ebook giveaway is now over.

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In January 2013, Aaron Swartz, under arrest and threatened with thirty-five years’ imprisonment, committed suicide. He was twenty-six. But in his short life he had changed the world: reshaping the Internet, questioning our assumptions about intellectual property, and creating some of the tools we use in our daily online lives. 

In this recently published collection of his writingsThe Boy Who Could Change the WorldSwartz displays his passion for and in-depth knowledge of intellectual property, copyright, and the architecture of the Internet. The Boy Who Could Change the World contains the life’s work of one of the most original minds of our time, whose tragic suicide shook the world.

In tribute to Aaron Swartzand to mark the publication of his writingswe've made the following ebooks available for FREE download for one day only! Unfortunately we don't have the North American rights to The Boy Who Could Change the World so this is book is NOT available for download in North America, but there are 5 other books to choose from!

The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz [not available in North America - sorry!]
by Aaron Swartz. Introduction by Lawrence Lessig

Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams

Revolution in the Age of Social Media: The Egyptian Popular Insurrection and the Internet
by Linda Herrera

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous
by Gabriella Coleman

The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire
by WikiLeaks. Introduction by Julian Assange

In the Flow
by Boris Groys

Th print versions of all these books are also available at 20%-30% discount when you buy through our site - and we have free shipping worldwide!

Downloading Isn’t Stealing: an extract from The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz
January 8, 2004
Age 17

The New York Times Upfront asked me to contribute a short piece to a point/counterpoint they were having on downloading. (I would defend downloading, of course.) I thought I managed to write a pretty good piece, especially for its size and audience, in a couple days. But then I found out my piece was cut because the Times had decided not to tell kids to break the law. So, from the graveyard, here it is.

Stealing is wrong. But downloading isn’t stealing. If I shoplift an album from my local record store, no one else can buy it. But when I download a song, no one loses it and another person gets it. There’s no ethical problem.

Music companies blame a fifteen percent drop in sales since 2000 on downloading. But over the same period, there was a recession, a price hike, a 25% cut in new releases, and a lack of popular new artists. Factoring all that in, maybe downloading increases sales. And 90% of the catalog of the major labels isn’t for sale anymore. The Internet is the only way to hear this music.

Even if downloading did hurt sales, that doesn’t make it unethical. Libraries and video stores (neither of which pay per rental) hurt sales too. Is it unethical to use them?

Downloading may be illegal. But 60 million people used Napster and only 50 million voted for Bush or Gore.  We live in a democracy. If the people want to share files then the law should be changed to let them.

And there’s a fair way to change it. A Harvard professor found that a $60/yr. charge for broadband users would make up for all lost revenues. The government would give it to the affected artists and, in return, make downloading legal, sparking easier-to-use systems and more shared music. What's unethical about that?

- download The Boy Who Could Change the World for free, TODAY! You can also buy the print version here.