"35 years was the maximum possible sentence. He would not have received 35 years, unless he called the judge a cheap whore. Also, he didn't simply download documents on to his laptop. He engaged in trespassing, breaking and entering, copyright violation, hacking, and other crimes. That's a lot more than just copying documents. But, no, I think making an example of him through excessive fines and prison time was unethical. If he suffered any punishment, it probably should have been community service and/or parole. If they wanted to make an example of him, they could have given him a few months in jail, instead of scaring him with the possibility of decades. In an ideal world, the JSTOR archives would be freely available. Unfortunately, our world sucks. What you or I want doesn't really seem to matter very much. Sure, if everything were free, that'd be nice, but that's just not the world we live in right now."
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