The Huffington Post reported on Monday that the Obama administration has granted one of Aaron Swartz's wishes. Aaron Swartz, an internet activist and one of the creators of Reddit and RSS, committed suicide last month.
On February 22, The White House's website posted that the Obama Administration will make taxpayer funded research free to the public.
The president's senior advisor on science and technology, Dr. John Holdren says in an announcement
“We know that scientific research supported by the Federal Government spurs scientific breakthroughs and economic advances when research results are made available to innovators. Policies that mobilize these intellectual assets for re-use through broader access can accelerate scientific breakthroughs, increase innovation, and promote economic growth.”
The legislation will take affect in the next six months after publication. The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act states that federal agencies must allow public access to federally-funded research papers.
Aaron Swartz was on trial for allegedly downloading millions of articles from JSTOR. He would have faced a 35 year prison sentence and a $1 million dollar fine which many believe was partly to blame for his suicide. Swartz believed that information should be free to the public and not behind a pay wall made by private corporations. He called it a "private theft of public culture" in his brilliant 2008 manifesto.
To many Aaron Swartz will be remembered as an advocate for free information. This is just the beginning of changes to come in reforming the distribution of information. It will become part of his legacy.