Peer-to-peer networks have existed as long as gossip and word-of-mouth advertising--but with the rise of electronic communication, they are suddenly coming into their own. and they are drawing the outlines of a battle for information that will determine much of the culture and politics of our century, from file-sharing websites like Gnutella to private edits of Star Wars to the neo-Nazi concept of 'leaderless resistance.' On one side, trying to maintain control of information--and profits--are legislators, judges, cabinet officers, entertainment conglomerates, and multinational corporations. On the other side, trying to liberate information, are educators, computer programmers, civil libertarians, artists, consumers, and dissidents under all sorts of regimes. Vaidhyanathan draws upon examples ranging from ancient religions to open-source software to show how this battle will be one of the defining fault lines of twenty-first-century civilization. His radical and original explanation of the future of information is a warning shot that will mobilize anarchists and controllers alike.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, a cultural historian and media scholar, is the author of Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity (New York University Press, 2001) and The Anarchist in the Library: How Peer-to-Peer Networks are Transforming Politics, Culture, and Information (Basic Books, 2003). Vaidhyanathan has written for many periodicals, including The Dallas Morning News, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times Magazine, MSNBC.COM, Salon.com, and The Nation. He is a frequent contributor on media and cultural issues, and his research has been profiled by programs on National Public Radio, CNN, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, International Herald-Tribune Television, Pacifica Radio, Voice of America, and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. After five years as a professional journalist, Vaidhyanathan earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Vaidhyanathan has taught at the University of Texas, Wesleyan University, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is currently an assistant professor of Culture and Communication at New York University.