Piracy : The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates

3.82 (178 ratings by Goodreads)
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Since the rise of Napster and other file-sharing services in its wake, most of us have assumed that intellectual piracy is a product of the digital age and that it threatens creative expression as never before. The Motion Picture Association of America, for instance, claimed that in 2005 the film industry lost $2.3 billion in revenue to piracy online. But here Adrian Johns shows that piracy has a much longer and more vital history than we have realized - one that has been largely forgotten and is little understood. "Piracy" explores the intellectual property wars from the advent of print culture in the fifteenth century to the reign of the Internet in the twenty-first. Brimming with broader implications for today's debates over open access, fair use, free culture, and the like, Johns' book ultimately argues that piracy has always stood at the center of our attempts to reconcile creativity and commerce - and that piracy has been an engine of social, technological, and intellectual innovations as often as it has been their adversary.
From Cervantes to Sonny Bono, from Maria Callas to Microsoft, from Grub Street to Google, no chapter in the story of piracy evades Johns' graceful analysis in what will be the definitive history of the subject for years to come.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 640 pages
  • 60 x 90 x 43.94mm | 970.69g
  • University of Chicago Press
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • English
  • 0226401189
  • 9780226401188
  • 403,554

Review quote

"Adrian Johns's learned and witty book Piracy is... a compelling cultural history of the paired ideas of piracy and property from the seventeenth century to the present.... The best history takes readers from a familiar present to a strange past, and delivers them back to a present that can be seen in new ways. Piracy is that sort of history." (Nature) "Piracy shows us how the very notion of intellectual property - and its sharp division into the fields of patent and copyright - was created in response to specific pressures and so could be modified dramatically or even abolished." (Times Higher Education) "Invaluable.... Johns concludes in this challenging, richly detailed, and provocative book, that the choices we make about how to balance property, creativity and privacy will define 'the contours of creative life' for the twenty-first century." (Washington Post) "Johns's research stands as an important reminder that today's intellectual property crises are not unprecedented, and offers a survey of potential approaches to a solution." (Publishers Weekly)"
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About Adrian Johns

Adrian Johns is professor of history and chair of the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Rating details

178 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 24% (43)
4 43% (76)
3 28% (49)
2 3% (5)
1 3% (5)
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