Thoughts on the Fetishization of Cyberspeech and the Turn from "Public" to "Private" Law

Constellations 10 (1):113-134 (2003)
In this paper I critically examine recent developments in intellectual property law. In particular, from a point of view informed primarily by Marx and Foucault, I study (a) the rhetoric surrounding the Metallica lawsuit against Napster; (b) a pair of conflicting trademark cases surrounding the ownership of a word on the Internet; and (c) the software industry's move to win approval for “shrink-wrap” or “click here” licenses. I conclude that these developments indicate a new form of disciplinary power, where people are individuated ex ante as consumers. Despite the celebrations of market cyberlibertarians, this move actually masks an increase in overt state power as the state apparatus is invoked to force individuals to agree to behave as disciplined consumers and accede to the system in the first place.
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