The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy

The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy

by Aaron Perzanowski, Jason Schultz

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Overview

An argument for retaining the notion of personal property in the products we “buy” in the digital marketplace.

If you buy a book at the bookstore, you own it. You can take it home, scribble in the margins, put in on the shelf, lend it to a friend, sell it at a garage sale. But is the same thing true for the ebooks or other digital goods you buy? Retailers and copyright holders argue that you don't own those purchases, you merely license them. That means your ebook vendor can delete the book from your device without warning or explanation—as Amazon deleted Orwell's 1984 from the Kindles of surprised readers several years ago. These readers thought they owned their copies of 1984. Until, it turned out, they didn't. In The End of Ownership, Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz explore how notions of ownership have shifted in the digital marketplace, and make an argument for the benefits of personal property.

Of course, ebooks, cloud storage, streaming, and other digital goods offer users convenience and flexibility. But, Perzanowski and Schultz warn, consumers should be aware of the tradeoffs involving user constraints, permanence, and privacy. The rights of private property are clear, but few people manage to read their end user agreements. Perzanowski and Schultz argue that introducing aspects of private property and ownership into the digital marketplace would offer both legal and economic benefits. But, most important, it would affirm our sense of self-direction and autonomy. If we own our purchases, we are free to make whatever lawful use of them we please. Technology need not constrain our freedom; it can also empower us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262035019
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 11/04/2016
Series: Information Society Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 928,372
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 16.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author


Aaron Perzanowski is Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University.


Jason Schultz is Professor of Clinical Law at New York University School of Law and Director of NYU's Technology Law and Policy Clinic.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 Introduction 1

2 Property and the Exhaustion Principle 15

3 Copies, Clouds, and Streams 35

4 Ownership and the Fine Print 57

5 The "Buy Now" Lie 83

6 The Promise and Perils of Digital Libraries 103

7 DRM and the Secret War inside Your Devices 121

8 The Internet of Things You Don't Own 139

9 Patents and the Ordinary Pursuits of Life 155

10 Ownership's Uncertain Future 169

Notes 195

Index 241

What People are Saying About This

Pamela Samuelson

The 'end of ownership' might sound like hyperbole, but this important book explains that we are at risk of losing many benefits of ownership in the digital age. Digital works, whether software or sound recordings, are regulated by licenses and by copyright law in ways that conventional products have not been. All is not lost, however, as the authors explain how we can reclaim ownership as a fundamental norm of our society and extend it to our music, our software, our devices, and the Internet of Things.

Tim Wu

The gradual erosion of ownership is a long-term threat to human freedom and our capacity for self-development.Like physical erosion, however, the changes are subtle and even invisible.This book makes clear the stakes and sounds an important warning.

From the Publisher

By reading this blurb, you agree, irrevocably and in perpetuity, that this book is an excellent, enraging, eye-opening, essential overview of the way that 'intellectual property' has become a twenty-first century virus that lets the biggest corporations in the world strip you of your actual property rights. To opt-out, die.

Cory Doctorow, MIT Media Lab Activist-in-Residence, and author of Information Doesn't Want to Be Free

The 'end of ownership' might sound like hyperbole, but this important book explains that we are at risk of losing many benefits of ownership in the digital age. Digital works, whether software or sound recordings, are regulated by licenses and by copyright law in ways that conventional products have not been. All is not lost, however, as the authors explain how we can reclaim ownership as a fundamental norm of our society and extend it to our music, our software, our devices, and the Internet of Things.

Pamela Samuelson, Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

The gradual erosion of ownership is a long-term threat to human freedom and our capacity for self-development.Like physical erosion, however, the changes are subtle and even invisible.This book makes clear the stakes and sounds an important warning.

Tim Wu, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Columbia Law School, and author of The Master Switch

This book centers our attention on the central principle of information ownership—exhaustion of intellectual property rights—and zooms in on the core issues that should keep all of us awake at night, especially those committed to access, use, and dissemination of knowledge now and for generations to come.Not only is this an exceptionally clear explanation of the current digital ownership landscape—it is a call to action to all who can change it.

Mary Lee Kennedy, former Chief Library Officer, New York Public Library

Endorsement

This book centers our attention on the central principle of information ownership—exhaustion of intellectual property rights—and zooms in on the core issues that should keep all of us awake at night, especially those committed to access, use, and dissemination of knowledge now and for generations to come.Not only is this an exceptionally clear explanation of the current digital ownership landscape—it is a call to action to all who can change it.

Mary Lee Kennedy, former Chief Library Officer, New York Public Library

Cory Doctorow

By reading this blurb, you agree, irrevocably and in perpetuity, that this book is an excellent, enraging, eye-opening, essential overview of the way that 'intellectual property' has become a twenty-first century virus that lets the biggest corporations in the world strip you of your actual property rights. To opt-out, die.

Mary Lee Kennedy

This book centers our attention on the central principle of information ownership—exhaustion of intellectual property rights—and zooms in on the core issues that should keep all of us awake at night, especially those committed to access, use, and dissemination of knowledge now and for generations to come.Not only is this an exceptionally clear explanation of the current digital ownership landscape—it is a call to action to all who can change it.

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