Marcus Boon: In Praise of Copying, 2010

This book grew out of the observation that copying is pervasive in contemporary culture, yet at the same time subject to laws, restric- tions, and attitudes that suggest that it is wrong, and shouldn’t be happening. On the one hand, many of the most visible aspects of contemporary culture—the art of Takashi Murakami or Elizabeth Peyton, electronic music ranging from hip-hop and techno to dub- step and mashups, BitTorrent and other digital networks of distribu- tion, software tools like Google Earth or Photoshop, social network- ing sites like Facebook and Twitter, movies like Borat or Slumdog Millionaire (all no doubt hopelessly out of date by the time you read this)—rely explicitly on something we call “copying.” Indeed, many of the most vibrant aspects of contemporary culture indicate an ob- session with the act of copying and the production of copies, and it seems that we find real insight into what human beings and the uni- verse are like through thinking about how and what we copy. On the other hand, every time we install a new piece of software, listen to music, or watch a movie, we encounter the world of copyright and intellectual-property law, and the set of restrictions that have been placed around our access to and use of objects, processes, and ideas produced by the act of copying.

Boon, Marcus. In Praise of Copying. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.