Intellectual Property in the Information Age: The Politics of Expanding Ownership Rights

By Debora J. Halbert | Go to book overview
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comes increasingly obvious that computers are prone to information sharing instead of information secrecy. We will see hackers going to jail for longer periods of time. We will see the boundaries of what is legitimate computer behavior clearly defined by example. Hackers will become more like criminals and less like the next-door neighbor. The threat will be both foreign and domestic. We will label this threat the "war against hackers." In the process, civil liberties will be threatened as the government seeks to make an example out of someone. This is beginning today. It is not simply the fate of hackers that hangs in the balance. How freedom of information, property, and privacy are defined are central to this discussion. The hacker has become a symbol of danger, a symbol necessary for protecting information, and producing a U.S. identity.

An earlier version of this chapter appeared as: D. Halbert, "Discourses of danger and the computer hacker", The Information Society, 13( 1997): 361-374.
P. Elmer-Dewitt, "Cyberpunks and the Constitution", Time, 137 ( 8 April 1991): 81; M. Lewyn, & E. I. Schwartz, "Why the legion of doom has little to fear of the feds", Business Week, 15 April 1991, 31; "United States v. Zod", The Economist, 316 ( 1 September 1990): 23-24.
"Computer hacker ring with a Bay area link", San Francisco Chronicle, 9 May 1990, A30; "Probe focuses on entry, theft by computers", Chicago Tribune [Lexis-Nexis], 10 May 1990.
"A. Beam, Free the Sun Devil 6! (Why?)", The Boston Globe, 1 August 1990, 55; P. Mungo, & B. Clough, Approaching zero: The extraordinary underworld of hackers, phreakers, virus writers, and keyboard criminals ( New York: Random House, 1992).
B. Sterling, Hacker crackdown: Law and disorder on the electronic frontier ( New York: Bantam Books, 1992).
J. Aldrich, "Push button felonies", The Epic Project [On-line], Available: ( 1990); W. Schatz, "The terminal men: Crackdown on the legion of doom ends an era for computer hackers", Washington Post, 24 June 1990, pp. Hl, H6.
"Attacking the pentagon", The Commercial Appeal ( 24 May 1996), 12a.
M. Alexander, "Hackers promote better image", Computerworld, 25 ( 24 June 1991): 124; J. Daly, "Hackers switch sides, offer security package", Computerworld, 27 ( 1 March 1993): 6.
K. Erikson, Wayward puritans: A study in the sociology of deviance ( New York, London, & Sydney: Wiley, 1966), 10-11.
Although these early hackers are important in the general understanding of hacker identity, this is not the place to detail their experience. An excellent book on the subject is Steven Levy's. See: S. Levy, Hackers: Heroes of the computer revolution ( Garden City, NY: Anchor Press, 1984).
"For the first time in recent history you could reach out and change reality,


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Intellectual Property in the Information Age: The Politics of Expanding Ownership Rights


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