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Distinguishing 'Piracy' From the 'Piracy Paradigm'

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Over the past few years, the author has been studying the history of US copyright law and policy. In particular, he has been probing how the construct of "piracy" became so dominant within copyright discourse. Several scholars have written convincingly about the political role of rhetoric and metaphors in shaping contemporary copyright policy. The basic premise of the piracy paradigm is that piracy, as it relates to US copyright law and policy, is more than a rhetorical or metaphorical trope that has led to certain policy and legislative outcomes. The paradigm manifests itself in simple and complex ways. It may be natural to discuss US copyright law and policy without talking about piracy, where one uses the term "piracy" to mean the theft of copyright-protected works. In this manner, piracy is merely rhetoric to evoke lawlessness, criminality, and lack of respect for property.

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