Aaron Swartz killed himself while awaiting trial in January of this year for downloading millions of articles from an MIT service called JSTOR—a paid searchable database of academic articles—and released them in the public sphere for free. Now the video that police used to catch Swartz in the act has been released.
The grainy video from January 2011 shows Swartz enter a dark, small closet to switch out a hard drive from the computer he had hid beneath a cardboard box. Swartz had connected his computer to the MIT network, and had for months been downloading these documents to make them public. The university had a subscription to the service that gave students "free" access to the journals. MIT technicians had tracked down activity in the network to the basement, and when policed arrived, they set up the hidden camera to catch the then unknown person in the act. After Swartz showed up a second time two days later, he was arrested and identified shortly after. MIT pressed hard against Swartz, with much criticism from alumni, and sought charges of computer and wire fraud against him. With this, he faced a potential seven years in prison. Since his death, Swartz has become a symbol for Internet freedoms hackers around the globe.