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Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in…
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Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in the Peer-to-Peer Debates

by John Logie

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PDF available on the publisher’s site. Logie discusses core concepts (sharing, stealing, piracy, etc.) around peer-to-peer and other forms of filesharing. Among his observations of note: the debaters have largely abandoned appeals to reason/logic because ethos (authority) and pathos (emotion) work better with the public. Napster faced a fundamental structural problem because its initial ethos “paralleled rock’s and hip-hop’s superficial rejection of authority and corporate politics,” but “this ethos left Napster with only limited opportunities to re-position itself as a legitimate business.” It couldn’t win without selling out. As Logie points out, that’s a pretty standard music narrative, but he notes that many performers fail to negotiate the transition, even if some do succeed. On piracy: once the copyright industries “had persuaded Americans that downloading was criminal, the logical next step was to ensure that it was perceived as violent crime.” On sharing: filesharing users don’t generally interact except through anonymous, automated file transfer. Logie suggests that this is because copies are nonrivalrous—I don’t have to give up mine to give you one for yourself. This, he suggests, strips negotiation and communication out of filesharing. It would have been very interesting if he’d also considered the various “darknets” that may preserve more human contact, even under pseudonyms, where users have to trust each other in order to escape copyright owners’ detection. ( )
  rivkat | Jun 12, 2012 |
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