stories filed under: "etymology"
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Apr 30th 2009 6:28am
A couple years ago, we mentioned an interesting story about "book piracy" in the early 18th century, which (according to the article we linked to) the term "piracy" was first used in reference to copying the creative works of another in 1701, concerning a a poem by Daniel Defoe (it's worth noting, as an aside, that even in this first case of "piracy" Defoe wasn't bothered by the practice, even encouraging them to try to sell their copies "if they please," -- he just wanted to make sure they copied the poem accurately). Now, via Freakonomics, we're pointed to a recent study by K. Matthew Dames on the history of the word "piracy," both for high seas privateering and when it comes to copying content. This seems to be a small part of a larger project by Dames, who says his later research will help show why the use of the term "piracy" when it comes to copyright is inaccurate, and is misused by the entertainment industry to get laws repeatedly passed in their favor without a basis in reason. I'm definitely looking forward that later study, but as a starter, this history of the term piracy, is certainly a worthwhile read.