Books for the News, Commentary

IP in Alphaville?

Debates over fair use, free culture, illegal downloading, and copyright protection have been simmering since the dawn of the digital era. Intellectual property is a hot-button topic, as the Atlantic’s technology blogger Nicholas Jackson points out, and every once and a while a story breaks that positions a major cultural figure at the center of the IP wars. Today’s news stars New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, who recently donated 1,000 euros toward the legal defense of James Climent, a French citizen accused of downloading 13,788 MP3s. Godard’s pithy rationale? “There’s no such thing as intellectual property.”
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Whether or not you share Godard’s position, Adrian John’s Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates, is a vital history worth consulting. Piracy explores intellectual property wars from the advent of print culture in the fifteenth century to the reign of the Internet in the twenty-first, ultimately arguing that piracy has always stood at the gateway between creativity and commerce. Be sure to take a timely glance at an excerpt from the book here before reading the full account of Godard’s donation at internet technoculture site Boing Boing, the first to translate the news.