IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this book

Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture


  • Tarleton Gillespie

    () (Cornell University)


While the public and the media have been distracted by the story of Napster, warnings about the evils of "piracy," and lawsuits by the recording and film industries, the enforcement of copyright law in the digital world has quietly shifted from regulating copying to regulating the design of technology. Lawmakers and commercial interests are pursuing what might be called a technical fix: instead of specifying what can and cannot be done legally with a copyrighted work, this new approach calls for the strategic use of encryption technologies to build standards of copyright directly into digital devices so that some uses are possible and others rendered impossible. In Wired Shut, Tarleton Gillespie examines this shift to "technical copy protection" and its profound political, economic, and cultural implications. Gillespie reveals that the real story is not the technological controls themselves but the political, economic, and cultural arrangements being put in place to make them work. He shows that this approach to digital copyright depends on new kinds of alliances among content and technology industries, legislators, regulators, and the courts, and is changing the relationship between law and technology in the process. The film and music industries, he claims, are deploying copyright in order to funnel digital culture into increasingly commercial patterns that threaten to undermine the democratic potential of a network society. In this broad context, Gillespie examines three recent controversies over digital copyright: the failed effort to develop copy protection for portable music players with the Strategic Digital Music Initiative (SDMI); the encryption system used in DVDs, and the film industry's legal response to the tools that challenged them; and the attempt by the FCC to mandate the "broadcast flag" copy protection system for digital television. In each, he argues that whether or not such technical constraints ever succeed, the political alignments required will profoundly shape the future of cultural expression in a digital age.

Suggested Citation

  • Tarleton Gillespie, 2009. "Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262513196, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262513196

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1990. "Tax harmonization and tax competition in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(2-3), pages 489-504, May.
    2. Van Wijnbergen, Sweden, 1986. "On fiscal deficits, the real exchange rate and the world rate of interest," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1013-1023, October.
    3. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
    4. Efraim Sadka, 1977. "A Note on Producer Taxation and Public Production," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(2), pages 385-387.
    5. John Dutton, 1982. "The Optimal Taxation of International Investment Income: A Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(2), pages 373-380.
    6. Razin, Assaf & Sadka, Efraim, 1991. "International tax competition and gains from tax harmonization," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 69-76, September.
    7. Martin Feldstein, 1974. "Incidence of a Capital Income Tax in a Growing Economy with Variable Savings Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 505-513.
    8. Martin Feldstein & David Hartman, 1979. "The Optimal Taxation of Foreign Source Investment Income," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(4), pages 613-629.
    9. Lloyd A. Metzler, 1942. "The Transfer Problem Reconsidered," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 397-397.
    10. Tobin, James, 1969. "A General Equilibrium Approach to Monetary Theory," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 15-29, February.
    11. Seidman, Laurence S, 1984. "Conversion to a Consumption Tax: The Transition in a Life-Cycle Growth Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(2), pages 247-267, April.
    12. Menahem E. Yaari, 1965. "Uncertain Lifetime, Life Insurance, and the Theory of the Consumer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 137-150.
    13. Harry G. Johnson, 1956. "The Transfer Problem and Exchange Stability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 212-212.
    14. A. B. Treadway, 1969. "On Rational Entrepreneurial Behaviour and the Demand for Investment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(2), pages 227-239.
    15. J. A. Mirrlees, 1972. "On Producer Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(1), pages 105-111.
    16. Mervyn A. King, 1983. "The Economics of Saving," NBER Working Papers 1247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Judd, Kenneth L, 1987. "A Dynamic Theory of Factor Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 42-48, May.
    18. Hans-Werner Sinn, 1990. "Can Direct and Indirect Taxes Be Added for International Comparisons of Competitiveness?," NBER Working Papers 3263, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
    20. Martin S. Feldstein, 1974. "Tax Incidence in a Growing Economy with Variable Factor Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(4), pages 551-573.
    21. Fischer, Stanley, 1980. "Dynamic inconsistency, cooperation and the benevolent dissembling government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 93-107, May.
    22. Gordon, Roger H, 1986. "Taxation of Investment and Savings in a World Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1086-1102, December.
    23. Robert E. Lucas & Jr., 1967. "Adjustment Costs and the Theory of Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 321-321.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    copyright; digital culture; fcc;

    JEL classification:

    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262513196. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kristin Waites). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.