A book about the broader effects of piracy that is next on my reading list gets a write up over at Ars. I have made many posts at TLF and IP Central weblog about the informational value of black markets and grey markets, a very interesting subject. It seems that there is much of interest for those looking at the intersection of web 2.0 and the production of cultural goods in this work:
Hat tip: Tim Lee
Ars Book Review: “The Pirate’s Dilemma”
Published: May 14, 2008 – 11:48PM CT
240 pages – Free Press
When a former UK pirate DJ writes a book on piracy and uses an epigraph from Dr. Dre (“You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge”), you’d be forgiven for expecting an anarchist’s screed. But Matt Mason’s recent book, The Pirate’s Dilemma, isn’t some mimeographed broadsheet written by a bomb-thrower; published by Simon & Schuster in the US and by Penguin in the UK, the book has a more complicated vision than “Copyright bad! Piracy good!” As the subtitle makes clear, this is a book about “How Youth Culture is Reinventing Capitalism,” not about how it is replacing the market with an anarcho-socialist commune.
That doesn’t mean that Mason wants to avoid provocation. Within three pages, he refers to pirates as “society’s unsung heroes” and an “an invisible army who started a revolution with pens and spray cans.” It’s a bold way to describe graffiti artists, pirate radio DJs, and P2P downloaders, but Mason sees these groups as the people who are “hacking into the hull” of the good ship S.S. Capitalism. The question posed by pirates is simple but stark: “Are they a threat to be battled, or innovators we should compete with and learn from?”
A quote from the book:
By short-circuiting conventional channels and red tape, pirates can deliver new materials, formats, and business models to audiences who want them. Canal Street moves faster than Wall Street. Piracy transforms the markets it operates in, changing the way distribution works and forcing companies to be more competitive and innovative. Pirates don’t just defend the public domain from corporate control; they also force big business and government to deliver what we want, when we want it.