Today, via Lionel Maurel’s S.I. Lex blog, I learned that in addition to having downloaded over 5 million articles from JSTOR at MIT and releasing them into the public domain, Aaron Swartz also downloaded over 900,000 books from Google Books in 2010: Révélation: C’est Aaron Swartz Qui Libérait Les Livres De Google Books Sur Internet Archive.
Although Google provided free online access to the works (in the US), it maintained restrictions against commercial use. According to the story told by Brewster Kahle at the memorial service on Jan. 24th in San Francisco, Aaron had found a way to bypass the mechanisms Google put in place to prevent automatic downloading and subsequently transferred all the books he downloaded to the Internet Archive as Public Domain works with no restriction on their use.
I have not heard this story elsewhere. For more information, there is a partial transcript (translated into French) in Lionel Maurel’s post. If you don’t read French, try Google Translate or you can watch the video of the service on YouTube.