Hackers: The Construction of Deviance in the Information Age
The preceding chapters introduced the historical context and modern manifestations of the traditional copyright story. 1 This copyright story has a large number of adherents, mostly lawmakers and copyright owners who oppose the tendency toward exchange displayed by the general public. Having legitimate definitional control, and thus control over the copyright story, is important if the general public is to be convinced of the boundaries imposed. Because the government intervenes on the part of copyright owners and provides an illusion of fairness to the process, a sense of legitimacy is imparted through governmental authority. The power to define the villains and heroes, appropriate and inappropriate, ethical and unethical behavior, constitutes control over the story. By changing the terminology used to describe computer-related actions, copyright owners control the discourse. Thus, sharing becomes stealing. Creative work becomes private property. Corporations become victims of piracy.
This chapter is about another villain in the copyright story -- the computer hacker. This chapter is about more than the crime of hacking, it is a story about the construction of the hacker identity in the United States. The threat, because it transcends national boundaries, is a threat to national security, as well as to economic well-being. This chapter deals primarily with the hacker story, its transformation from harmless teenager to dangerous computer criminal, and the implications for defining intellectual property. Computer viruses, associated closely to hackers, also play a role in controlling the intellectual property discourse. The villains (the hacker, the computer virus, and the pirate) are united