5 Copyright wars: rhetoric and facts

5.1 How to critically analyse what you read

This section is largely about how to spot the tactics that people use when they are trying to persuade us to their way of thinking.

Much of Part III of The Future of Ideas is about the reaction of established industries to the innovation produced by the internet. One part of those developments has been popularly labelled the ‘copyright wars’ – essentially battles about changes in the law and technology to protect digital content from piracy.

Note again that the tools on which the protagonists are concentrating to influence behaviour are law and architecture.

Some of the arguments on both sides of these copyright wars provide a rich source of persuasive tactics. We are going to identify these tactics by looking at Web material on the copyright wars.

The lyrics of a Bush/Blair parody song can be found at Bush and Tony.

Here are two questions about the song:

  1. Did you like the song, or at least find it slightly amusing?

  2. Do you like the politicians who are being mocked?

The first and most important rule of critical analysis is to realise that we are all conditioned and predisposed to believe certain stories more than others. This is because of our individual prejudices and values. If we don't like George Bush or Tony Blair, a song that makes fun of them will appeal to us. If we do like them, however, we might find the songs offensive. We will return to the issue of values later in this section.

We will also look at the influence of values, at examples of tactics of persuasion, and how to determine whether an information source is reliable.

Chapter 9

Read Chapter 9 of The Future of Ideas, linked below.

Click 'view document' to open Chapter 9 of The Future of Ideas.

The movie industry is under siege from a small community of professors.

(Jack Valenti)

"When I read that, I had a Monty Pythonesque image of a siege of this massive castle by a tiny number of individuals armed only with insults. ‘Now open your gates,’ they were yelling, ‘or we shall taunt you once again.’ "

(Professor James Boyle, responding to the above)

Further reading: Copy Fights: The Future of Intellectual Property in the Information Age (2002) edited by Adam Thierer and Wayne Crews, Washington, DC, Cato Institute.

5.2 Facts, values and beliefs, or why some issues are controversial