The inside story of Aaron Swartz’s campaign to liberate court filings

“Years before the JSTOR scraping project that led to Aaron Swartz’s indictment on federal hacking charges—and perhaps to his suicide—the open-data activist scraped documents from PACER, the federal judiciary’s paywalled website for public access to court records. (The acronym PACER stands for Public Access to Court Electronic Records, which may sound like it’s straight out of 1988 because it is.) Swartz got 2.7 million documents before the courts detected his downloads and blocked access. The case was referred to the FBI, which investigated Swartz’s actions but declined to prosecute him. A key figure in Swartz’s PACER effort was Steve Schultze, now a researcher at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy. Schultze recruited Swartz to the PACER fight and wrote the Perl script Swartz modified and then used to scrape the site.”

via Ars Technica

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