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Wired Shut by Tarleton Gillespie

Wired Shut: Copyright and the shape of digital culture by Tarleton Gillespie The MIT Press | 2007

Wired Shut paints a picture on how the role of copyright law has drastically changed in regards to technology and therefore how it has started to greatly affect online culture. After an introduction to the topic, the book briefly summarizes copyright law and the changes it has undertook through the last few centuries, up to the development and implementation of DRM. Gillespie articulates where previous attempts at regulating digital media was discussed by the industry and failed, how the DCMA and DRM has changed access privileges for the online community, and future implications of continued encryption practices within digital culture. The question of how all of these changes affect fair use is a reoccurring theme within the book.

There is benefit to reading the book for both new comers to copyright law and for those with advanced knowledge. Gillespie translates the complexity of copyright law by using analogies from how other types of laws have affect behaviors in order to help the reader understand the sociology of law. He then gives a brief history of the conversations and reasoning that led to current copyright laws. Gillespie then explains that there are gray areas to every law and points out examples where the DRM and DCMA conflict with the fair use portion of copyright law. By the fourth chapter, when the author gets deep into the history of the conflict between copyright law and digital culture behavior, new comers to the topic should be prepared to tackle the complexity of the topic. Readers with more experience with copyright law will benefit more from later chapters.

The book ends with roughly 100 pages of notes, citations and references. This indicates not only the amount of research the author conducted but also provides a reader with interest in the subject places for further research.

Jacquelyn Marie Erdman

Knowledge Exchange Coordinator, U. S. Green Building Council

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