Pirates of the Digital Millennium: How the Intellectual Property Wars Damage Our Personal Freedom, Our Jobs, and the World Economy

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·         The realities of digital piracy: hard facts based on IDC’s unprecedented 57-country study
·         From personal ethics to geopolitics and the global economy
·         Written by best-selling authors John Gantz and Jack Rochester (The Naked Computer)
·         For everyone ...

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Overview

·         The realities of digital piracy: hard facts based on IDC’s unprecedented 57-country study
·         From personal ethics to geopolitics and the global economy
·         Written by best-selling authors John Gantz and Jack Rochester (The Naked Computer)
·         For everyone with a stake in these issues: consumers to artists, business people to policymakers Digital piracy. It’s a global war. It touches you every day, even if you’ve never downloaded an MP3. And it’s just begun.  It’s a war between media conglomerates and teenagers. A battle to the death between billion-dollar tech companies and billion-dollar content providers.  It’s artists battling artists, nations battling nations.
 
This book covers it all. Every side. All the implications. The economics.  The law. The ethics. The players. And above all, the realities-including the extraordinary findings of a new 57-country digital piracy research project and fresh survey and focus group research conducted specifically for this book.
The media universe is shaking to its very foundations. One book helps you make sense of what’s happened and what’s next: Pirates of the Digital Millennium.
The war over digital piracy and intellectual property is being fought everywhere on earth. It’s the world’s #1 technology story. It just might be today’s #1 culture and entertainment story, too.  Now, best-selling authors John Gantz and Jack Rochester take on the subject from every side: culture, ethics, law, business, even geopolitics.  They start with facts, not uninformed opinion: facts drawn from IDC’s unprecedented 57-country survey of digital piracy and its impact, as well as fresh focus group and survey research conducted specifically for this book.  You’ll travel from the streets of Bangkok to the halls of Congress, secret duplicating factories in Paraguay to America’s suburban bedrooms. You’ll discover what "fair use" really means, then sort through the morality of digital copying.

You’ll hear every side of the debate. You’ll also hear something unprecedented in debates about piracy: some real, fair solutions.
Will big media survive?
Can you sue your customers into submission?
The cultural impact of strict copyright law
Does strict copyright law protect creativity-or shackle it?
Are we killing our #1 export market?
If we can’t export creative content, what can we export?
DMCA: The secret history
Making political sausage: How the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
made it through Congress
Eliot Ness or the Keystone Kops?
Law enforcement versus piracy: shoveling against the tide
Through the fog: The future of intellectual property
Sensible "grand compromises" that just might work

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What People Are Saying


Gantz and Rochester do a masterful job of analyzing...the impact piracy is having at the intersection of business, technology, and society. The moral? What doesn't kill us will make us stronger.
author of Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado, and Living on the Fault Line Inside the global wars over digital piracy, intellectual property, and Copyright
Geoffrey Moore
Gantz and Rochester do a masterful job of analyzing...the impact piracy is having at the intersection of business, technology, and society. The moral? What doesn't kill us will make us stronger.
author of Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado, and Living on the Fault Line Inside the global wars over digital piracy, intellectual property, and Copyright
Lester Thurow
As we move into the digital age nothing is more important than understanding the issues about digital piracy and what to do about them. The place to start gaining that understanding is with Pirates of the Digital Millennium.
Professor, MIT, former columnist for Newsweek, and author of The Zero Sum Society
Tracy Kidder
The pirates in this book include both teenagers working in their bedrooms and corporate executives in their offices, hijacking the gift of digital technology. This is a well-researched and engaging work on a subject of great importance now and for the future.
author of the international best seller, The Soul of the New Machine
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780131463158
  • Publisher: FT Press
  • Publication date: 9/16/2004
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Authors

John Gantz is Chief Research Officer and Senior Vice President of International Data Corporation. He manages worldwide demand-side research, global market models, Internet, ebusiness and IT forecasts, and research quality control and standards. He led its recent study, The Economic Impact of Software Piracy.

Prior to assuming his current role, he led IDC's worldwide research and consulting in personal systems, consumer devices, workgroup and collaborative computing, and services. As one of IDC's chief spokespersons on technology and market issues, he has been published or quoted in media ranging from Fortune to CNN. He has served as contributing editor and columnist for Computerworld and InfoWorld.

Jack B. Rochester heads Joshua Tree Interactive, a leading provider of technology-related content and information management services for interactive media, including enterprise computing, ethics, e-learning, and e-commerce. He has written 300 articles and nine books on the impact of technology on business and society. His work has appeared in media ranging from Harvard Business Review to USA Today. He is on the faculty of the New England Institute of Art.

Gantz and Rochester co-authored the best seller The Naked Computer.

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Read an Excerpt

Pirates of the Digital Millennium: PrefacePREFACE

It was a quintessential New England fall morning—crisp, sunny, cold—that day in November 2002. We were two old friends and colleagues, getting together for breakfast to catch up, talk about our work, our children, our lives.

John, the researcher, was just finishing up a massive project at IDC on the economic impact of worldwide software piracy. Jack, the writer, smelled an important story in the making. We were both amazed at the extent of worldwide copyright violation, astounded at how fast Napster had grown, sad at its demise and the loss of one of the easiest to use software programs we’d ever seen, and amused at how quickly KaZaA had filled its shoes.

Little did we know that the casual activity known as file-sharing, or downloading MP3s, would explode in the news six months later when the Recording Industry Association of America began issuing takedown orders on college students. And even though we knew our kids—boys in high school, college, and beyond—were downloaders, we didn’t really understand how they felt about what they were doing, about what the music industry was doing, or about copyright infringement in general.

Nor, when we met, did we understand the wildly complex facets of copyright law—for example, how it was rewritten 11 separate times during the 1900s, each time granting longer and longer terms of copyright. We had no idea that Mickey Mouse’s copyright (1928–2023) would outlive his creator, Walt Disney (1901–1966), by 57 years. We had yet to grasp the full extent of worldwide media piracy and its impact on the global economy.

Before we left the breakfast table, we were talking about working together on another book, 20 years after our first collaboration— a widely popular book called The Naked Computer—was published. Our agent and publisher shared our enthusiasm for this new book, and soon we were once again writing together.

We have entered the digital millennium, where most, if not all, of our media have been (or soon will be) rendered into the strings of ones and zeroes a computer chip understands. The world is awash in media and entertainment devices, personal computers, Internet connections, and broadband transmission. We’re surrounded by MP3 players, TiVo, Personal Video Recorders, CD burners, iPods, laptops, Playstations, and more.

Technology has unsheathed a sword of Damocles that makes it possible for us to enjoy media—software, computer games, music, movies—in ways that were not possible 20 years ago. At the same time, it threatens the long-held right of artists and copyright owners to expect a fair return for their intellectual capital and the sweat of their brows. Yet as the media for gaming, music, movies, and computers become ever more interchangeable, so will the public’s expectations that they ought to have the right to use them in all the new and different ways they choose.

These two viewpoints are in serious conflict.

When we began writing Pirates of the Digital Millennium, we held some cherished, all-American beliefs. We believed business is entitled to a profit. We were convinced that black marketeers in other countries are hurting the world’s economy by stealing and replicating computer software and games, movies, and other forms of intellectual property. We assumed kids don’t really understand copyright and that they’re stealing from record companies and artists.

But after a year of researching and writing, we didn’t end up in quite the same intellectual place we started. This book was a journey of personal discovery. We hope it will be the same for you. We have been forced to scrutinize our personal philosophies and our understanding about what motivates people. We’ve had to travel the timeline of copyright protection from the Middle Ages until now to see how it has evolved. We’ve had to understand how business, politics, and law mix in today’s information society. We’ve had to ask: What freedoms have we given up in the name of copyright protection?

Our discussion concerns intellectual property: its use and its value. On one hand are those who believe that anything they conjure up, anything that transforms an idea into form, is intellectual property. On the other are the individuals who believe just as passionately that the entire notion of intellectual property is at best a farce, at worst just another way to suck profits out of the ether. In between these two extremes is a spectrum of social, legal, and ethical points of view.

“There’s a battle outside and it’s ragin’,” sang Bob Dylan in “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” This battle pits media conglomerates against teenagers, artists against artists, technology providers against content providers, nations against nations, Internet service providers against entertainment companies, media companies against their best customers—and even law enforcement against organized crime.

The ownership of intellectual property has been passing from the minds of artists and into the bank accounts of media businesses for at least 200 years. Yet since the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, some of those in the media business have developed a lockdown mentality that many people feel threatens their right to enjoy the media they buy however they see fit, as well as the public right of fair use. The concerns discussed in this book rise way beyond simply being able to legitimately download a song from the Internet: They extend all the way to your right to not sit through commercials when you watch a recorded television show. There are those who believe the American model of capitalism, along with American intellectual property, should be promulgated throughout the world economy, with the same terms of sale and use for their products as in the United States, regardless of disparities in economic status or local customs regarding ownership and copying. And there are those who don’t.

We found ourselves asking a number of these questions as we traveled the road from blank page to completed manuscript: Do we have a right to use media we license or buy in any way we see fit? Do the media publishers have a right to profit for decades from their acquired intellectual property? Is downloading stealing or civil disobedience? Is enforcement curtailing piracy or making it worse? Can we expect to change the hearts and minds of the global citizenry to a capitalistic point of view? Could the software companies and media firms do something different to alleviate the problem? How bad is the problem? Whose problem is it? Why do pirates pirate? And why don’t others?

This is our invitation to you to take a journey into the heart of intellectual property darkness with us.

WHAT’S IN THIS BOOK?

Here’s a roadmap for the 10 chapters of the journey you’re about to embark upon with us:

Chapter 1, Are You a Digital Pirate?, presents an overview of the ideas and social situations regarding the licit and illicit use of copyrighted intellectual property. We ask you to evaluate your own behavior, or that of people close to you, to determine if you, or they, are pirates of the digital millennium.

Chapter 2, Is it Copyright or the Right to Copy?, presents a history of modern copyright in what we generally regard as Western civilization, beginning with monks in the European Dark Ages and moving (somewhat regressively) through English law to American issues of fair use and the sanctity of ideas. A table of the political history of copyright concludes the chapter.

Chapter 3, Us Against Them?, explores the war over intellectual property use, providing a fair and balanced perspective of all the competing camps. It’s the scorecard—the playbook—of the conflict.

Chapter 4, Inside the Corporate Intellect: A Day at Microsoft, explains just what goes into software development, in terms of human intellectual capital and corporate resources. Next time you think how cheap it is to make a CD, remember this chapter and that the aluminum and plastic disc is a very small part of the cost.

Chapter 5, Inside the Sausage: The Making of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, sets out what led to the creation and passage of this piece of legislation, which has caused one of the most pitched battles between copyists and capitalists in the history of copyright.

Chapter 6, Global Fallout, explores the worldwide effects and aftereffects of digital piracy. We’re not talking about kids downloading tunes here. In some cases, organized crime is a major player. We explore what it takes for a less privileged country to gain economic footing with our intellectual property.

Chapter 7, Dude, Where’s My MP3?, focuses on youth, primarily American, who regard access to the Internet as an ordained right and anything on it as fair and free game. Yes, a game: If the copyright holders find a way to protect their intellectual property, the game is to crack it.

Chapter 8, Eliot Ness or Keystone Kops?, looks at the attempts— and we do mean attempts—to stem the tide of international piracy and download thievery. While the RIAA did put the fear of God in America’s downloaders for a short while, most have come to believe that detection and punishment are unlikely—and it appears they may be right. Ditto for the rest of the digital planet.

Chapter 9, Angel on My Shoulder: What’s in It for Me?, asks you to examine your own beliefs and ethics in making a personal determination about what’s right and what’s not, what the other guy does be damned. We all have to take our own ethical stand.

Chapter 10, Through the Fog: The Future of Intellectual Property, sums up what we’ve learned in the foregoing nine chapters, and extrapolates from that some solutions to the problem. Here you can test our logic and vision, and add your own.

The Afterword, following Chapter 10, describes each of our personal journeys, where we reveal our views to you. Don’t peek until you’ve read the book, though!

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface xxi
Chapter 1 Are You a Digital Pirate? 1
Intellectual Property and the Concept of Copy Rights 3
Sidebar: What Is "Fair Use"? 8
Copying and Virtue: A Short History 9
I Sing the Copy Electric 11
Recording, from A to V 12
Is It Live or Is It Memorex? 13
Copying and Convenience 14
The Empire Strikes Back 15
Even Better Than the Real Thing? 17
Sidebar: The End-User License Agreement 18
Meanwhile, Back on the PC 21
The Digital Black Market 23
Are You a Digital Pirate? 24
Chapter 2 Is It Copyright of the Right to Copy? 27
The First Known Copy Pirate 30
The First Copyright 33
The Scottish Pirates 34
Copyright As Politics and Business 35
100 Years of American Piracy 36
The Quintessential American Pirate 39
The Idea of Copyrighting Ideas 42
A Borrower Be: Understanding Fair Use 46
The Expanding Universe 49
Sidebar: The Music Industry's Woes 50
Where Are We Today? 52
Chapter 3 Us Against Them? 63
If We Are Us, Who Is Them? 66
What's a Little Rip, Mix, Burn Among Friends? 71
Music Is the Soul...of Piracy 75
A Pirate's Argument 77
Sidebar: Music CD Sales: An Industry View of Where the Money Goes 84
Sidebar: Music CD Sales: Courtney Love's View of Where the Money Goes 86
Which Camp Are You in? 88
Chapter 4 Inside the Corporate Intellect: A Day at Microsoft 91
Why Microsoft? 93
The Birth of Microsoft Office 2003 95
Plan, Write Code, Test; Plan, Write Code, Test 96
Knowing When to Quit 98
Microsoft as Microcosm 100
The Legal Beagles 102
Fighting Spam 104
The Tests of Time 107
Getting Help From Watson 109
Harnessing Genius 110
Piracy's Long Shadow 112
Chapter 5 Inside the Sausage: The Making of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 115
Antecedents to the Dmca 117
The Pieces Start to Fall into Place 120
The Dmca is Born 121
The Dmca Dissected 123
Sidebar: The Strange Case of Ross Plank 126
I Got 20 More Years, Babe 129
What Hath the Dmca Wrought? 132
Sidebar: Six Questions on Copyright for Jonathan Zittrain 140
The Bell Tolls, But for Whom? 142
Desperately Seeking Libra 145
Chapter 6 Global Fallout 147
How Bad is Piracy? 150
The Hidden Costs of Software Piracy 152
Are These Numbers Real? 156
What Drives Piracy? 156
Who Gets Hurt? 159
An Economic Argument for Piracy 161
Why Don't Governments do Something? 163
The Rule of Law 165
The Global Push to Lower Piracy 167
What's the Global Fallout? 169
Chapter 7 Dude, Where's My MP3? 173
The Dawn of MP3 downloading 174
Sidebar: Digital Copying: The Legal and the Illegal 176
How MP3s are Shared 177
An Anatomy of Downloading 179
The Darker Side of Downloading 182
The Power of Youth 184
The Techno-Elite 185
View From the Street 186
It's Not Just MP3s 187
Student Economics 190
Internet-Based Information is Real Power 192
Ethics From Without 194
Are New Moral Ground Rules Needed? 196
Chapter 8 Eliot Ness or Keystone Kops? 199
A Music Industry Offensive 202
Where are the Cops When You Need Them? 207
Chasing Buccaneers 210
Chasing Buccaneers Abroad 212
Chasing A Mirage 213
Deputizing the Businessman 215
Notice and Takedown 216
The International Black Hole 219
The Ongoing Arms Race 221
Sidebar: Does Downloading Actually Hurt CD Sales? 223
An Uphill Push 225
Chapter 9 Angel on my Shoulder: What's in it for Me? 227
Technology or People: Who's Running the Show? 228
Asking Tough Questions 229
An Ethical Quandary 232
What's in it for Governments? 235
What's in it for Businesses? 238
Sidebar: BSA's Recommended Corporate Software Policy Notice 243
Facing up to the Ethical Issue 244
Sidebar: Street Ethics 247
The Ethical Climate 250
Chapter 10 Through the Fog: The Future of Intellectual Property 253
Lesson 1 We're Locked in a War No One Can Win 255
Lesson 2 Copyright Laws Won't Go Away, Ever 256
Lesson 3 Piracy Has Changed the Relationship Between Media Buyers and Sellers 258
Lesson 4 It's About Capitalism, Stupid 260
Lesson 5 Laws and Case Law Will See-Saw 262
Lesson 6 Globalization Creates the Common Denominator 262
Lesson 7 Decriminalzing the Kids Should Be a Top Priority 263
Lesson 8 Give a Little to Get a Little 265
Lesson 9 Ethics Are Important 266
The Next Few Steps 267
Possibilities from the Fringe 269
What Should Happen? 273
Afterword 281
Index 287
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Preface

Pirates of the Digital Millennium: PrefacePREFACE

It was a quintessential New England fall morning—crisp, sunny, cold—that day in November 2002. We were two old friends and colleagues, getting together for breakfast to catch up, talk about our work, our children, our lives.

John, the researcher, was just finishing up a massive project at IDC on the economic impact of worldwide software piracy. Jack, the writer, smelled an important story in the making. We were both amazed at the extent of worldwide copyright violation, astounded at how fast Napster had grown, sad at its demise and the loss of one of the easiest to use software programs we’d ever seen, and amused at how quickly KaZaA had filled its shoes.

Little did we know that the casual activity known as file-sharing, or downloading MP3s, would explode in the news six months later when the Recording Industry Association of America began issuing takedown orders on college students. And even though we knew our kids—boys in high school, college, and beyond—were downloaders, we didn’t really understand how they felt about what they were doing, about what the music industry was doing, or about copyright infringement in general.

Nor, when we met, did we understand the wildly complex facets of copyright law—for example, how it was rewritten 11 separate times during the 1900s, each time granting longer and longer terms of copyright. We had no idea that Mickey Mouse’s copyright (1928–2023) would outlive his creator, Walt Disney (1901–1966), by 57 years. We had yet to grasp the full extent of worldwide media piracy and its impact on the globaleconomy.

Before we left the breakfast table, we were talking about working together on another book, 20 years after our first collaboration— a widely popular book called The Naked Computer—was published. Our agent and publisher shared our enthusiasm for this new book, and soon we were once again writing together.

We have entered the digital millennium, where most, if not all, of our media have been (or soon will be) rendered into the strings of ones and zeroes a computer chip understands. The world is awash in media and entertainment devices, personal computers, Internet connections, and broadband transmission. We’re surrounded by MP3 players, TiVo, Personal Video Recorders, CD burners, iPods, laptops, Playstations, and more.

Technology has unsheathed a sword of Damocles that makes it possible for us to enjoy media—software, computer games, music, movies—in ways that were not possible 20 years ago. At the same time, it threatens the long-held right of artists and copyright owners to expect a fair return for their intellectual capital and the sweat of their brows. Yet as the media for gaming, music, movies, and computers become ever more interchangeable, so will the public’s expectations that they ought to have the right to use them in all the new and different ways they choose.

These two viewpoints are in serious conflict.

When we began writing Pirates of the Digital Millennium, we held some cherished, all-American beliefs. We believed business is entitled to a profit. We were convinced that black marketeers in other countries are hurting the world’s economy by stealing and replicating computer software and games, movies, and other forms of intellectual property. We assumed kids don’t really understand copyright and that they’re stealing from record companies and artists.

But after a year of researching and writing, we didn’t end up in quite the same intellectual place we started. This book was a journey of personal discovery. We hope it will be the same for you. We have been forced to scrutinize our personal philosophies and our understanding about what motivates people. We’ve had to travel the timeline of copyright protection from the Middle Ages until now to see how it has evolved. We’ve had to understand how business, politics, and law mix in today’s information society. We’ve had to ask: What freedoms have we given up in the name of copyright protection?

Our discussion concerns intellectual property: its use and its value. On one hand are those who believe that anything they conjure up, anything that transforms an idea into form, is intellectual property. On the other are the individuals who believe just as passionately that the entire notion of intellectual property is at best a farce, at worst just another way to suck profits out of the ether. In between these two extremes is a spectrum of social, legal, and ethical points of view.

“There’s a battle outside and it’s ragin’,” sang Bob Dylan in “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” This battle pits media conglomerates against teenagers, artists against artists, technology providers against content providers, nations against nations, Internet service providers against entertainment companies, media companies against their best customers—and even law enforcement against organized crime.

The ownership of intellectual property has been passing from the minds of artists and into the bank accounts of media businesses for at least 200 years. Yet since the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, some of those in the media business have developed a lockdown mentality that many people feel threatens their right to enjoy the media they buy however they see fit, as well as the public right of fair use. The concerns discussed in this book rise way beyond simply being able to legitimately download a song from the Internet: They extend all the way to your right to not sit through commercials when you watch a recorded television show. There are those who believe the American model of capitalism, along with American intellectual property, should be promulgated throughout the world economy, with the same terms of sale and use for their products as in the United States, regardless of disparities in economic status or local customs regarding ownership and copying. And there are those who don’t.

We found ourselves asking a number of these questions as we traveled the road from blank page to completed manuscript: Do we have a right to use media we license or buy in any way we see fit? Do the media publishers have a right to profit for decades from their acquired intellectual property? Is downloading stealing or civil disobedience? Is enforcement curtailing piracy or making it worse? Can we expect to change the hearts and minds of the global citizenry to a capitalistic point of view? Could the software companies and media firms do something different to alleviate the problem? How bad is the problem? Whose problem is it? Why do pirates pirate? And why don’t others?

This is our invitation to you to take a journey into the heart of intellectual property darkness with us.

WHAT’S IN THIS BOOK?

Here’s a roadmap for the 10 chapters of the journey you’re about to embark upon with us:

Chapter 1, Are You a Digital Pirate?, presents an overview of the ideas and social situations regarding the licit and illicit use of copyrighted intellectual property. We ask you to evaluate your own behavior, or that of people close to you, to determine if you, or they, are pirates of the digital millennium.

Chapter 2, Is it Copyright or the Right to Copy?, presents a history of modern copyright in what we generally regard as Western civilization, beginning with monks in the European Dark Ages and moving (somewhat regressively) through English law to American issues of fair use and the sanctity of ideas. A table of the political history of copyright concludes the chapter.

Chapter 3, Us Against Them?, explores the war over intellectual property use, providing a fair and balanced perspective of all the competing camps. It’s the scorecard—the playbook—of the conflict.

Chapter 4, Inside the Corporate Intellect: A Day at Microsoft, explains just what goes into software development, in terms of human intellectual capital and corporate resources. Next time you think how cheap it is to make a CD, remember this chapter and that the aluminum and plastic disc is a very small part of the cost.

Chapter 5, Inside the Sausage: The Making of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, sets out what led to the creation and passage of this piece of legislation, which has caused one of the most pitched battles between copyists and capitalists in the history of copyright.

Chapter 6, Global Fallout, explores the worldwide effects and aftereffects of digital piracy. We’re not talking about kids downloading tunes here. In some cases, organized crime is a major player. We explore what it takes for a less privileged country to gain economic footing with our intellectual property.

Chapter 7, Dude, Where’s My MP3?, focuses on youth, primarily American, who regard access to the Internet as an ordained right and anything on it as fair and free game. Yes, a game: If the copyright holders find a way to protect their intellectual property, the game is to crack it.

Chapter 8, Eliot Ness or Keystone Kops?, looks at the attempts— and we do mean attempts—to stem the tide of international piracy and download thievery. While the RIAA did put the fear of God in America’s downloaders for a short while, most have come to believe that detection and punishment are unlikely—and it appears they may be right. Ditto for the rest of the digital planet.

Chapter 9, Angel on My Shoulder: What’s in It for Me?, asks you to examine your own beliefs and ethics in making a personal determination about what’s right and what’s not, what the other guy does be damned. We all have to take our own ethical stand.

Chapter 10, Through the Fog: The Future of Intellectual Property, sums up what we’ve learned in the foregoing nine chapters, and extrapolates from that some solutions to the problem. Here you can test our logic and vision, and add your own.

The Afterword, following Chapter 10, describes each of our personal journeys, where we reveal our views to you. Don’t peek until you’ve read the book, though!

Read More Show Less

Introduction

PREFACE

It was a quintessential New England fall morning—crisp, sunny, cold—that day in November 2002. We were two old friends and colleagues, getting together for breakfast to catch up, talk about our work, our children, our lives.

John, the researcher, was just finishing up a massive project at IDC on the economic impact of worldwide software piracy. Jack, the writer, smelled an important story in the making. We were both amazed at the extent of worldwide copyright violation, astounded at how fast Napster had grown, sad at its demise and the loss of one of the easiest to use software programs we'd ever seen, and amused at how quickly KaZaA had filled its shoes.

Little did we know that the casual activity known as file-sharing, or downloading MP3s, would explode in the news six months later when the Recording Industry Association of America began issuing takedown orders on college students. And even though we knew our kids—boys in high school, college, and beyond—were downloaders, we didn't really understand how they felt about what they were doing, about what the music industry was doing, or about copyright infringement in general.

Nor, when we met, did we understand the wildly complex facets of copyright law—for example, how it was rewritten 11 separate times during the 1900s, each time granting longer and longer terms of copyright. We had no idea that Mickey Mouse's copyright (1928–2023) would outlive his creator, Walt Disney (1901–1966), by 57 years. We had yet to grasp the full extent of worldwide media piracy and its impact onthe global economy.

Before we left the breakfast table, we were talking about working together on another book, 20 years after our first collaboration— a widely popular book called The Naked Computer—was published. Our agent and publisher shared our enthusiasm for this new book, and soon we were once again writing together.

We have entered the digital millennium, where most, if not all, of our media have been (or soon will be) rendered into the strings of ones and zeroes a computer chip understands. The world is awash in media and entertainment devices, personal computers, Internet connections, and broadband transmission. We're surrounded by MP3 players, TiVo, Personal Video Recorders, CD burners, iPods, laptops, Playstations, and more.

Technology has unsheathed a sword of Damocles that makes it possible for us to enjoy media—software, computer games, music, movies—in ways that were not possible 20 years ago. At the same time, it threatens the long-held right of artists and copyright owners to expect a fair return for their intellectual capital and the sweat of their brows. Yet as the media for gaming, music, movies, and computers become ever more interchangeable, so will the public's expectations that they ought to have the right to use them in all the new and different ways they choose.

These two viewpoints are in serious conflict.

When we began writing Pirates of the Digital Millennium, we held some cherished, all-American beliefs. We believed business is entitled to a profit. We were convinced that black marketeers in other countries are hurting the world's economy by stealing and replicating computer software and games, movies, and other forms of intellectual property. We assumed kids don't really understand copyright and that they're stealing from record companies and artists.

But after a year of researching and writing, we didn't end up in quite the same intellectual place we started. This book was a journey of personal discovery. We hope it will be the same for you. We have been forced to scrutinize our personal philosophies and our understanding about what motivates people. We've had to travel the timeline of copyright protection from the Middle Ages until now to see how it has evolved. We've had to understand how business, politics, and law mix in today's information society. We've had to ask: What freedoms have we given up in the name of copyright protection?

Our discussion concerns intellectual property: its use and its value. On one hand are those who believe that anything they conjure up, anything that transforms an idea into form, is intellectual property. On the other are the individuals who believe just as passionately that the entire notion of intellectual property is at best a farce, at worst just another way to suck profits out of the ether. In between these two extremes is a spectrum of social, legal, and ethical points of view.

"There's a battle outside and it's ragin'," sang Bob Dylan in "The Times They Are A-Changin'." This battle pits media conglomerates against teenagers, artists against artists, technology providers against content providers, nations against nations, Internet service providers against entertainment companies, media companies against their best customers—and even law enforcement against organized crime.

The ownership of intellectual property has been passing from the minds of artists and into the bank accounts of media businesses for at least 200 years. Yet since the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, some of those in the media business have developed a lockdown mentality that many people feel threatens their right to enjoy the media they buy however they see fit, as well as the public right of fair use. The concerns discussed in this book rise way beyond simply being able to legitimately download a song from the Internet: They extend all the way to your right to not sit through commercials when you watch a recorded television show. There are those who believe the American model of capitalism, along with American intellectual property, should be promulgated throughout the world economy, with the same terms of sale and use for their products as in the United States, regardless of disparities in economic status or local customs regarding ownership and copying. And there are those who don't.

We found ourselves asking a number of these questions as we traveled the road from blank page to completed manuscript: Do we have a right to use media we license or buy in any way we see fit? Do the media publishers have a right to profit for decades from their acquired intellectual property? Is downloading stealing or civil disobedience? Is enforcement curtailing piracy or making it worse? Can we expect to change the hearts and minds of the global citizenry to a capitalistic point of view? Could the software companies and media firms do something different to alleviate the problem? How bad is the problem? Whose problem is it? Why do pirates pirate? And why don't others?

This is our invitation to you to take a journey into the heart of intellectual property darkness with us.

WHAT'S IN THIS BOOK?

Here's a roadmap for the 10 chapters of the journey you're about to embark upon with us:

Chapter 1, Are You a Digital Pirate?, presents an overview of the ideas and social situations regarding the licit and illicit use of copyrighted intellectual property. We ask you to evaluate your own behavior, or that of people close to you, to determine if you, or they, are pirates of the digital millennium.

Chapter 2, Is it Copyright or the Right to Copy?, presents a history of modern copyright in what we generally regard as Western civilization, beginning with monks in the European Dark Ages and moving (somewhat regressively) through English law to American issues of fair use and the sanctity of ideas. A table of the political history of copyright concludes the chapter.

Chapter 3, Us Against Them?, explores the war over intellectual property use, providing a fair and balanced perspective of all the competing camps. It's the scorecard—the playbook—of the conflict.

Chapter 4, Inside the Corporate Intellect: A Day at Microsoft, explains just what goes into software development, in terms of human intellectual capital and corporate resources. Next time you think how cheap it is to make a CD, remember this chapter and that the aluminum and plastic disc is a very small part of the cost.

Chapter 5, Inside the Sausage: The Making of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, sets out what led to the creation and passage of this piece of legislation, which has caused one of the most pitched battles between copyists and capitalists in the history of copyright.

Chapter 6, Global Fallout, explores the worldwide effects and aftereffects of digital piracy. We're not talking about kids downloading tunes here. In some cases, organized crime is a major player. We explore what it takes for a less privileged country to gain economic footing with our intellectual property.

Chapter 7, Dude, Where's My MP3?, focuses on youth, primarily American, who regard access to the Internet as an ordained right and anything on it as fair and free game. Yes, a game: If the copyright holders find a way to protect their intellectual property, the game is to crack it.

Chapter 8, Eliot Ness or Keystone Kops?, looks at the attempts— and we do mean attempts—to stem the tide of international piracy and download thievery. While the RIAA did put the fear of God in America's downloaders for a short while, most have come to believe that detection and punishment are unlikely—and it appears they may be right. Ditto for the rest of the digital planet.

Chapter 9, Angel on My Shoulder: What's in It for Me?, asks you to examine your own beliefs and ethics in making a personal determination about what's right and what's not, what the other guy does be damned. We all have to take our own ethical stand.

Chapter 10, Through the Fog: The Future of Intellectual Property, sums up what we've learned in the foregoing nine chapters, and extrapolates from that some solutions to the problem. Here you can test our logic and vision, and add your own.

The Afterword, following Chapter 10, describes each of our personal journeys, where we reveal our views to you. Don't peek until you've read the book, though!

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