Pirate's Life

Wife of Creative Commons Founder Seeking Donations for Aaron Swartz’s Legal Defense

The social justice lawyer helping out the disgraced former fellow.
 Wife of Creative Commons Founder Seeking Donations for Aaron Swartzs Legal Defense

Troll Face IRL (Photo: Creative Commons)

Yesterday, we told you about the new charges being brought against early Reddit employee and activist coder Aaron Swartz. He’s now facing 13 federal counts after allegedly downloading large portions of JSTOR, an academic database filled with articles and data, in order to release it to the public for free use.

Today it seems that Mr. Swartz has a potentially influential ally in his corner–Bettina Neuefeind, wife of Creative Commons founder Larry Lessig.

She is the organizer behind the site free.aaronsw.com to raise money for his defense. At the top of the homepage, it says, “The fund is overseen by Bettina Neuefeind and funds go directly to pay legal costs.”

Ms. Neuefeind’s husband is Larry Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons and the director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Mr. Swartz is a former fellow at the Safra Center for Ethics. His whole alleged crime was based off of the belief of fair use, the ideals that Creative Commons holds up. And according to this 2011 article by The Harvard Crimson, “He [Swartz] also helped design the standards that underlie Creative Commons and RSS technology.”

Her husband’s professional affiliations aside, Ms. Neuefeind’s involvement hardly comes as a surprise. She describes herself in an online profile as “a housing and disability rights lawyer, mother of three and social activist very focused on public health, nutrition, sustainability and social justice.”

It’s unclear whether or not Mr. Lessig is directly connected to this defense fund, but the three individuals are certainly connected. Take, for instance, Ms. Neuefeind’s and Mr. Swartz’s appearance in Mr. Lessig’s 50th birthday lip sync video:

UPDATE: Reached by email, Mr. Lessig told Betabeat, ” My wife is a friend of Aaron and a lawyer. She’s known him for more than a decade. She offered to help.”