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EU Commission VP Neelie Kroes on Aaron Swartz ~pj
Wednesday, January 23 2013 @ 01:22 PM EST

The EU Commission's Vice President Neelie Kroes has now offered her thoughts on Aaron Swartz, and on the benefits of openness:
You’ve probably seen the terrible news about the death of Aaron Swartz. It’s always horrifying when someone so young and so clearly talented feels they have no option but to take their own life. I know that this is something that shook the internet community deeply. And my thoughts are with his family, and what they must be going through right now.

This was a man who saw that greater openness can be good for citizens, and good for society. Hugely disruptive – but hugely beneficial.

For me, the case is particularly clear when there aren’t copyright issues, when information was already paid for by taxpayers, and when more openness can help new innovations and scientific discoveries.

I would never condone unlawful activity. But in my view, if our laws, frameworks and practices stand in the way of us getting all those benefits, then maybe they need to be changed.

Agree or disagree with his methods, Aaron could see the open direction we’re heading in, and its benefits. In the meantime, those scientists who are paying tribute by making their own work legally, openly available aren’t just showing their respects – they are also benefiting scientific progress.

MIT announces that its report on its role in the Aaron Swartz tragedy will be available in "a few weeks".

If you have suggestions for MIT, here are their directions:
The review will be conducted in two phases, writes Abelson. The first phase will be completed “in a few weeks,” with a report that gives a “clear record” of what happened and provides “insight into what MIT did or didn’t do, and why.” Upon the conclusion of that phase MIT will enter a second phase of analyzing the implications of the findings.

MIT will refrain from commenting on the situation until the release of the report.

Members of the MIT community can suggest questions for Abelson’s analysis via http://swartz-review.mit.edu.

And I have been thinking about the We the People petitions. I think the best would be one that quotes Ms. Kroes and simply asks that there be a review of US computer laws and copyright laws that protect copyright and other "intellectual property" rights to ensure that they are rebalanced to reflect the importance to the public of openness as well.

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