When Internet activist and hacker Aaron Swartz, his death resonated far beyond his circle of friends, family and acquaintances, touching technology's greatest minds, other Internet activists, and millions of people whom he never met.
His far-reaching influence is what motivated director Brian Knappenberger to decide to make a documentary on his life and death, and to launch a Kickstarter to fund it. "I feel a real responsibility –- his story has touched so many people that I feel like I really want to [do] this justice," Knappenberger told Wired. "It’s touched people that didn’t really know him all over the world so, [the film] is about exploring why that is, why people knew about him and why he inspires people. … It’s not a memorial of him, either. It’s an investigative approach into what happened and who he was."
At the age of fourteen, Swartz stood at the start of the RSS protocol, and created the technological infrastructure of Creative Commons licensing. He made works searchable at Google helping people to find contentl that can freely be re-used.
At the time of his suicide, Swartz was facing criminal charges for downloading millions of articles using a laptop plugged into an MIT storage room. The articles were from JSTOR, an online academic database. Swartz's supporters and family have called the prosecution overzealous and unfair, and they argue it was one of the reasons he decided take his own life.
The documentary will be released under a Creative Commons license.