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Rototoko Article

Posted: May 10, 2010

So, for example, in the eighteenth century metropolitan publishers fought against provincial and international “pirates” to preserve their claims to a perpetual “literary property” in printed works. Their clashes defined and publicized what became central concepts of the Enlightenment, and hence of the modern cultural economy: authorial rights, the rights and duties of readers, the authority of the public, and the need for a balance to be struck between monopoly and liberty—between openness and property—for the sake of progress.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, similarly, the ideal of modern science as an objective, collective, and public endeavor took shape through a long series of clashes centering on alleged piracy of industrial research. The distinctive funding and publishing mechanisms on which today’s science depends emerged from those clashes, which climaxed in the 1930s and ’40s. In these ways and more, defining elements of our late-modern world reflect the history that Piracy reveals.

From the May 10, 2010 issue of Rototoko.

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