I have to go with the hippies on this one. Publicly accessible locker on campus with no lock, and in some reports someone else was using it for personal storage. Network with NO restrictions, plug in and go. Aaron had a legitimate account to access JSTOR which "owned" or at least stored the public materials. JSTOR actually dropped all charges. The material was actually public domain unless someone else can correct me, except that JSTOR wanted to charge for downloading the content. My understanding is that MIT users had unlimited access which was why the laptop was on MIT's campus. Outside users could officially download up to 3 free articles. Definitely sounds like overreach to me. Like there was not some drug dealer, murderer, or other scum that could have been given more attention. I think in this case, the witch hunt was held by prosecutor in this case.
You make it sound like protecting private information in bitorrents is a bad thing. There are governments in the world who could monitor such downloads and identify the people (or at least machines) accessing restricted information. By making public sources of said restricted material would make the infrastructure vulnerable to attack, and place the content owners at risk. In this day and age, such things are real risks. Bitorrents are tools like anything else, and have to be designed well to work in real world situations, regardless of use.