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Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation Hardcover – 24 May 2005


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Review

An online journalist and blogger (newmediamusings.com), Lasica has written a book for anyone who has ever downloaded music, movies, or other entertainment products from the Internet. Probed here is the phenomenon of "darknets," networks of people who rely on closed–off digital spaces for the purpose of sharing copyrighted digital material privately with others. As entertainment companies continue to shut down public P2P networks of illegal file sharing such as KaZaA, Lasica speculates that many more darknets will spring up to accommodate the desire for sharing such media. He describes how corporations will continue their attempts to lock down our entertainment devices so they become no more useful than a receptacle for one–way transmission of media products restricted by the companies producing them. This new lockdown culture could result in not being able to copy a song from a CD (legitimately purchased or otherwise), watch a recorded DVD (legitimately purchased or otherwise), or store a copy of a television program for more than a day. In the end, Lasica offers a ten–point "digital culture road map" that can both serve to protect intellectual property and to provide consumers with the ability to express, sample, and share. An absorbing book; highly recommended for most libraries.—Joe Accardi, William Rainey Harper Coll. Lib., Palatine, IL ( Library Journal , May 1, 2005) Rapid–fire advances in technology have transformed home entertainment. Not only can we store hours of television programming and music on hard drives, software has made it easy to create our own movies and songs, splicing and sampling professional–grade material into amateur productions. Entertainment conglomerates are understandably concerned, but in online journalist Lasica′s reporting on the culture clash over digital distribution and remixing, corporations are simplistically portrayed as dinosaurs intent on stifling the little guy′s creative freedom in order to protect their profit margins. The characterization is not entirely unmerited, but the deck feels unfairly stacked when "Big Entertainment" honchos are juxtaposed with a preacher who illegally copies and downloads movies so he can use short clips for his sermons. Similarly, Lasica infuses the allegedly inevitable triumph of "participatory culture" with a sense of entitlement and anti–corporate bias that he never fully addresses. Lasica′s interviews are far–ranging, and he provides a cogent analysis of the broad problems with America′s outdated legal framework for dealing with intellectual property rights and the need for the entertainment industry to adapt to new technologies. Too often, though, he falls back to an alarmist tone. With so many other works addressing this issue from both sides, it will be hard for Lasica′s book to stand out from the pack. (May 13) ( Publishers Weekly , April 11, 2005)

"An absorbing book...highly recommended." ( Library Journal , May 1, 2005)

Review

"Over the next several years, there will be no more important issue for the future of the Internet and, indeed, all media than the battle that will be fought between corporate giants and consumers over who will control the information future. J. D. Lasica′s new book, Darknet , is an indispensable primer and guide to the copyright wars for those who want to protect their digital rights from the dark forces of big media that seek to take them away. So, rip, mix and burn and, most of all, read his book, if you want information to be as free as it should be." ––Kara Swisher, author of There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere: The AOL Time Warner Debacle and the Quest for a Digital Future "Darknet is both fascinating and important. J.D. Lasica provides a detailed inside view of a culture many Americans are barely aware of, and vividly describes struggles that are already shaping the long term balance of economic, creative, and ideological power around the world." ––James Fallows, National Correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly "J.D. Lasica skillfully tells the story of the critical battle between free speech and copyright in the age of the Internet. If an intellectual property lockdown ever comes about, Darknet will remind us of the creative bounty we′re missing." ––Steven Levy, author or Hackers and Crypto "JD Lasica is the most talented technology writer working today. Nobody is better at explaining how things work and why things matter. Darknet is a great contribution to our understanding of the terrifying and wonderful opportunities that digitization, networking, and techno–cultural democracy offer us." –– Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System "The people who most need to read JD Lasica′s thoughtful and provocative new book are, unfortunately, the least likely to do so. They are the members of Congress, entertainment executives and intellectual property zealots who want to control digital information rather than allow marvelous new technologies to democratize it. The rest of us –– voters and average people –– should read it for them, and then demand that our rights and needs get at least equal weight in this vital debate." ––Dan Gillmor, author of We the Media "There are few who see the future clearly, and even fewer who can explain what they see. This brilliant, beautifully written book sees, and explains. We will never understand how different it will be till we live it. But this will get you close." ––Lawrence Lessig, author of Free Culture

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GROWING UP IN A FLYSPECK TOWN IN SOUTHERN MISSISsippi in the early 1980s, ten-year-old Chris Strompolos stared out his bedroom window and dreamed. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 30 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This book really explains our times 22 April 2006
By michaelbuddy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I originally heard about this book, while I was listening to a recorded Q and A session of South by Southwest (SXSW). I'm really glad I followed up and got it. Lasica did a fantastic job explaining our culture and how we interact with technology and new media. This book really wraps up how different groups such as corporations, senators, pirates and musicians affect it. Things are happening that you won't necessarily agree with on all sides.

Technology isn't as simple as making discoveries, because of the slow moving patent driven society we have become. The two sides covered brilliantly by Lasica are basically those who want or have ownership over information so they can control pricing, distribution, and those who want to use technology and media as creators, not just consumers. But it's the examples in the book that make it great...of the groups driven to darknets who don't want to be limited by laws that they feel are outdated, unjust, those who want information for everybody. These people from all walks of life are very interesting. Plus I loved all the references I learned about from reading it.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant 13 July 2005
By @seanbohan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
First heard of this book at Gnomedex2005. While there I watched JD speak on a panel about tomorrow's media and talk about participatory culture, user generated content and how the smarts are with the audience, not with the people on the stage. He is so passionate about the subject, and was having such a great time talking about the personal media revolution that I picked up a copy of his book that night.

The only problem with this book, like a roller coaster when you are a kid, is that it ended too soon. 267 pages of fun, and interesting people and WTF? moments of corporate and legislative stupidity. JD isn't pro-piracy. JD isn't pro-RIAA/MPAA/MS. He lays out an excellent argument for why we need more moderation and common sense and why it is more important that we the people and our legislators have an understanding of historical record behind innovation and copyright and culture.

Lasica tells a cautionary tale about what might happen if we let the regulators (business, MSM, govt agencies) have their way without our say. They want control over their content, and more importantly, their sources of revenue.

He balances that with a strong warning to the big players: there are more pirates than there are lawyers, and they are fighting back against the limitations. Without being silly or sci fi, he takes the reader through a short tour of the darknets, giving the reader a peek into the people and motivation inside.

This book touches on copyright, free culture, software, file sharing, business, Hollywood, professionals and amateurs. Lasica's writing style is fast and clean and very direct. It is a fun and fast read with a great set of footnotes at the end the user can follow up on.

Google Lasica and ourmedia and see what else he is involved with regarding participatory media/culture.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Opened my eyes to whats going on.... 11 Jun 2005
By Harold Kionka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As someone who spends a lot of time online and in the television world, Ill be the first to admit that I havent read as many books as I would have liked to in recent years. ( Not sure if Dean Koontz and John Grisham count)

But JD Lasicas "DARKNET" helps make up for all those nites in cyberspace wilderness. This is the best and most complete book Ive come across on the subject of the major transformations taking place in the media world. It wouldent suprise me if this book becomes the NWE BIBLE for the next generation of media...

The trick is that Lasica dosent do what most Big-J Journalists do: Latch onto a huge media or tech company and tell its story. Yes, Microsoft, Sony, Intel, HP, Play important roles here, But the author burrows into whats really driving todays changes in the digital world, and its happining at the grassroots, much of it OUT of the spotlight. This should be a textbook for students students studying media or next-generation online business models. Its all here in ONE comprehensive package.

Through example after example ( and LOTS of Beautiful no-nonsense writing) we see how Big Entertainment is spinning the public into believing this is a debate over piracy, when in reality the restrictions showing up in our digital gear are REALLY about preserving existing business models.

But the most Interesting chapters are not about law or corperate shenanigans. I was blown away by the author's insights fleshing out the future of television, movies, music, and gaming. Media will change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50 years, Lasica writes.

A few years from now, when millions of us will be walking around with mini computers in our pockets containing the storage capacity of today's Library of Congress, what kind of deal will we strike with the purveyors of information and entertainment? These are questions we should be debating today.

Today we get to decide what kind of future we want for tomorrows media-saturated society. There are some stark choices before us all, if only "The Media" began telling us WHAT they are.

But they WONT.. So get up to speed. READ "DARKNET"

5 STARS.......
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Darknet - getting past the hype to see what remix culture means 23 Jun 2005
By eb - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In what is essentially a PR war of hysteria (on both sides), JD presents the middle ground, shifting the focus off the corporations and file-sharing teenagers. We learn about real people who, having become accustomed to technology in their lives, adopt it to create a richer media experience. These hobbyists have the tools and ambition to express themselves, except now the law has intervened. Before, fair use was an acceptable compromise because it was hard to make a perfect copy. Now with perfect duplicates, all fair use is suspect, since the tools used to digitally record a few seconds of a song or movie for a remix piece are the same that pirates would use to steal music or, worse, to profitably bootleg. Those tools illegally circumvent copy protection and the act is a crime no matter the intent.

This is the tension JD describes is his book - a world where an absolute law applies to a range of activities, many of which seem perfect resonable and socially beneficial.

JD presents no real answers because as a society we haven't come up with them yet. Darknet triggers important questions: is fair-use an intrinsic "right"? should it be? what can people repurpose for their own use in a non-commerical setting? how can that be defined/controlled? where are the mechanisms to license use of this content?

JD points us to the root of the conflict: otherwise normal people become criminals in pursuit of creating their own art and entertainment - works as "trivial" as they are culturally important.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Care about your digital toys? Read on! 25 April 2005
By Jessica C. Friedman (tech savvy) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I first became aware of the issues surrounding our digital freedoms a few weeks ago during the arguments before the Supreme Court in the "Grokster" case. The justices are expected to soon rule in the most important case of the digital age.

I didn't fully appreciate the issues at stake in this case - and indeed, for all of us who care about how we may use our computers, our gadgets and other digital technologies - until I read an early copy of JD Lasica's "Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation."

I've read Lasica's columns for years on the Online Journalism Review site as he argued passionately for citizen journalism and a forward-looking approach to the online medium by the major media players. In "Darknet," he takes those reporting skills and goes to town, providing the first journalistic, narrative-driven account of the culture clashes that mainstream new organizations seem to be only dimly aware of. (News flash: It's not about file sharing!!)

Yes, some of this ground has been plowed before, but mostly by academics with little flair for making these issues accessible to a general audience. That's what I think "Darknet" brings to the table .... it tells stories rather than arguing fine points of copyright law.

There's the pastor who commits a felony because he wants to use Hollywood movie clips in his sermons (it's a terrifically vivid and real representation of a geeky man of the cloth - but a lot of my secular friends behave the same way and would be shocked to learn how much of their behavior is already illegal).

There's the inside look at movie piracy (has this been reported before? this was all new to me), with the interesting take on how Hollywood execs are ignoring the advice of their own consultants by refusing to make studio movies available on demand in a timely manner.

There's the behind-the-curtain look at the workings of these intra-industry consortiums that are deciding how you and I can use our computers, PDAs, and digital TV sets, with little or no input from the public.

Mostly, though, "Darknet" takes the pulse of the digital generation - young people especially - and winds up siding with their worldview of being producers and creators of content instead of one-dimensional consumers. That stands in stark contrast to the views of the people running the entertainment companies (and their

Capital Hill errand boys).

It's a disturbing, sobering and timely look at what's turning out to be a hugely important issue for those of us who aspire to be more than passive consumers of big media's infotainment machine.
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