Sonia Katyal on Fri, 12 Feb 2010 12:27:27 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> darkmatter Journal - special issue: Pirates and Piracy, and Property Outlaws

Dear nettime (and the darkmatter editors):

hello--my name is Sonia Katyal,and I've posted a few times on this list
over the years, and enjoyed listening to the conversation very much.  I
just wanted to write to let you know of a book that may be of interest
that I just published with Yale University Press  (with EduardoPenalver,
a professor at Cornell Law School) that I thought mightbe of particular
interest, since it covers thehistory of civil disobedience and
technology, along with a host ofcontemporary issuesregarding
environmental law, social justice, civil rights, and newmedia. 

The book, Property Outlaws:  HowSquatters, Pirates and Protesters
Improve the Law of Ownership in anutshell, argues that a degree of civil
disobedience is essential to thehealth of both tangible property and
intellectual property law.  It explores indetail a series of
examples--everything from the history of squatting inthe American West
to HIV drug activism in South Africa to mashups andgay marriage--in
which such property disobedience played a crucial rolein sparking legal
reform or led to needed legal clarification, with aspecial emphasis on
technology, innovation, and civil rights.  

Here's the publisher's description:
PropertyOutlaws puts forth the intriguingly counterintuitive proposition
that,inthe case of both tangible and intellectual property
law,disobedience canoften lead to an improvement in legal regulation.The
authors argue thatin property law there is a tension between the
competing demands ofstability and dynamism, but its tendency is to
become static and fallout of step with the needs of society. 

The authors employwide-ranging examples of the behaviors of 'property
outlaws'*thetrespasser, squatter, pirate, or file-sharer*to show how
specificbehaviors have induced legal innovation. They also delineate
thesimilarities between the actions of property outlaws in the spheres
oftangible and intellectual property. An important conclusion of the
bookis that a dynamic between the activities of 'property outlaws' and
legalinnovation should be cultivated in order to maintain this avenue of
The book, I think, covers a fresh topic from an unusualperspective--both
of us are young, minority law professors who have astrong interest in
pop culture, technology and civil rights, so we covereverything from
civil disobedience surrounding same sex marriage tonative american land
rights, to urban squatting, innovation and beyond.  We've alsojust
published a short essay on the book below:

Asyoucan imagine, we're trying to get the word out as much as
possible--lastweek, it made the top 5 Intellectual property books in
Amazon, so we werethrilled, as we'd love to reach as broad of an
audience as possible. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to
talk further about thebook, or if you or someone you know would
beinterested in doing a review.  We'd be incredibly grateful for

* * * 
Wehave needed this book for a long time. For the first time, twolegal
scholars have woven the history of civil disobedience withthe
development of property law in both tangible and intangible forms.This
book will be essential to understanding the complex relationshipbetween
norms and laws, and the ways that media events influence both.It's
written in a lively and accessible manner. My students willbenefit
greatly from it. 
* SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN, The University of Virginia

thanks so much!


Sonia K. Katyal
Professor of Law
Fordham Law School
140 W. 62nd St.
New York, NY 10023
Papers available at
>>> sanjay sharma  01/26/10 9:50 AM >>>

darkmatter Journal
Special issue: Pirates and Piracy

Debates about piracy have long featured certain telling
contradictions. At different times, pirates have been seen as both
violent monsters and colourful folk heroes. They have been cast by
historians and cultural critics as both capitalist marauders and
militant workers fighting for a restoration of the commons. The pirate
has become a compelling symbol of freedom: freedom from oppressive
work routines; freedom from polite behaviour; freedom from
institutional controls; freedom from restrictive property laws;
freedom from unjust social conventions surrounding race and gender
roles. We now apply the pirate label to an assortment of activities *
from the formation of transgressive sexual identities to the
technology-assisted defiance of copyright law. This special issue of
darkmatter sets out to examine the complicated and often incongruous
cultural meanings assigned to pirates and piracy in the twenty-first

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