What Free Costs

A suicide fuels the online copyright fight

Photo-Illustration by Sean McCabe for TIME; Swartz: Noah Berger/Reuters

Aaron Swartz made access to ideas a lifelong crusade. In adolescence, it drove him to become a top programmer. But as a young adult, it brought him face to face with a potential sentence of 35 years in prison on 13 counts of fraud, cybercrime and other charges after he allegedly stole a massive database of academic journals. On Jan. 11, as Swartz was months from trial and suffering from what friends say was a renewed bout of depression, his crusade came to an end when he took his life in his Brooklyn apartment. He was 26.

Despite his history of...

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