Techdirt Reading List: Wired Shut: Copyright And The Shape Of Digital Culture

from the digital-locks dept

We’re back again with another in our weekly reading list posts of books we think our community will find interesting and thought provoking. Once again, buying the book via the Amazon links in this story also helps support Techdirt.

I’ve been going back through various books from the past and came across Tarleton Gillespie’s amazing Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture from almost a decade ago. However, it’s still very, very relevant today, especially as we’re constantly discussing how DRM is impacting the way physical products are built and while there is a big debate happening about Section 1201 of the DMCA.

Gillespie saw all of this pretty early on, using many of the early examples of how 1201 basically enabled companies to force certain product design decisions that really had nothing to do with stopping “piracy,” but were very much about locking out competition or holding back innovation. The book pulls together the thread on three of the biggest fights from the 2000s around these issues: (1) The silly fight over SDMI, the RIAA’s preferred DRM that was so bad that they had to threaten professor Ed Felten for showing how bad it was. (2) The similarly stupid freakout over DeCSS encryption for DVDs. (3) And the attempt to lock down television with a needless broadcast flag. While the specific technologies may have changed, the fights are pretty damn similar a decade later, and it’s worth reading (or rereading) Wired Shut to remind you of the past as we prepare to fight for the future.

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