a conversation leaves no room to critically assess the world's political economy, the role of multinationals in that economy, the way in which the push for stronger intellectual property laws has specific benefits for a few U.S. corporations at the expense of the developing world, and the long-term interests of the United States.
The construction of pirates as criminals has not occurred in a vacuum. There are very specific beneficiaries of such a story. The beneficiaries are those companies engaged in new forms of business reliant on technology that is easily copied, reproduced, and "pirated." It is because of their interest to maximize profits, and the fact that their products are easily reproduced by pirates, that a dilemma has risen, thus necessitating the construction of pirates.
At the heart of the U.S. government's interest in intellectual property, lies the fact that despite its efforts to control the exchange of intellectual goods, this control will only come at the expense of extremely aggressive laws. We have entered a stage when the very definition of "author" is under question. As computer technology begins to influence the way we create, communicate, and exchange information, new ways of thinking about intellectual property can be created. The U.S. response to date merely reflects a desire to control for the short-term benefit of a few industries. It also reflects outdated assumptions about ownership of knowledge and authorship.
Although the stories written by the U.S. government may be politically persuasive, they may not last in the face of the larger transformation of how knowledge is produced and owned unless there is increasing amounts of pressure, legal action, and "education." It remains to be seen whether the United States will critically reflect on the future instead of playing the international bully and creating rules that ultimately may be detrimental, even to itself.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Intellectual Property in the Information Age:The Politics of Expanding Ownership Rights. Contributors: Debora J. Halbert - Author. Publisher: Quorum Books. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 94.
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