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  Overview Chapter Summaries Context Invention Teaching Ideas Extending this Work & Conclusion

Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in the Peer-to-Peer Debates


I only touch on a few aspects that point to the inventiveness and originality of this book. These are all important aspects and I call attention to them because most scholarly books, or monographs, in our field do not contain statements of meta-awareness regarding the copyright or proprietary nature of scholarly work (as does Logie's book). I think this is a fresh idea and worth paying attention to, especially since an increasing number of techno-rhetoricians are interested in fair use, copyright, and using creative commons licensing in their own and student work to address the "copyright problem." The inventional nature of this book that I point to also supports the idea that we want to encourage learning by the open sharing of information. While one can purchase a paper copy of the book, Logie offers another alternative. The book is offered free as a downloadable PDF on the Parlor Press website -- this free access stands as a metaphor for the book's argument about the paradoxes of "digital sharing." For example in the conclusion, the author discusses how problematic it is to actually conduct a search for who might own the copyright on a given text, in the event someone wanted to ask permission, or learn if an item was in the public domain (the copyright having expired). Logie notes that searching through the Library of Congress' website for copyright owner information will most likely prove futile. However, the researcher will receive an offer here to spend $150.00 per hour to pay the Library of Congress to do this research. How many individuals can pay this amount just to learn whether they can use material without fear of copyright liability? Logie argues for a change in the law. But, by marking his work with a creative commons license and making it freely available, he supports his book's argument that we need a different paradigm than that offered in the US -- where everything is automatically copyrighted, but a potential remixer or writer who wishes to incorporate another's materials, is left to figure out who, if anyone, owns the copyright (or any part of the copyright).

Another inventional aspect is how the author uses images in this work. Eleven images are used in Peers, Pirates, & Persuasion for examples, often to illustrate how visual ethos was created by stakeholders in the peer-to-peer filesharing debates. The field’s interest in copyright has developed along with newfound interest in visual rhetoric, but not many connections have been made between teaching visual rhetoric and copyright until Stephan Westbrook’s recent College English piece (2006, Visual rhetoric in a culture of fear: Impediments to multimedia production, 68(5): 457-480). Logie’s focus differs from Westbrook’s since Logie is not focusing on student work. But he does make important connections by using the visual and conducting a rhetorical analysis in copyright contexts. He discusses rhetorical turns taken by peer-to-peer filesharing services and other stakeholders as they develop ethos in part through the visual. For example, a common occurrence is for copyright enforcers to construct a visual campaign, attempting to cause fear or hesitation on the part of filesharing users. Following this, a parody often emerges that makes fun of the visual fear campaign. Logie provides an example of the "You can click but you can't hide" warning posted by the MPAA and featured on the former LokiTorrent website (after it was shut down by court order). This visual warning was followed by a parody on the (now shut down) website - using the same visual cues, a hand on a computer mouse. The parody echoed the MPAA's warning, but instead stated, "You can sue but you can't catch everyone." This parody was created in order to recognize the "passing of sites that facilitate the free availability of perpetually copyrighted motion pictures"(p. 124-135). Logie's discussion of these visuals via an analysis that uses a rhetorical framework, provides a great example for use in teaching. While I've seen textbooks that illustrate analysis of the visual, often involving arguments that visuals make, students do well with using a clear framework like ethos, pathos, and logos when conducting these types of analyses themselves. I've experience a lot of success in FYW (first-year writing) using Logie's techniques and examples. The book's Appendix is also inventional. Here, John Logie outlines his perspective on the use of visuals in his text and any requirement for permissions. His stance is: “While I have done my best to identify and acknowledge the copyright holders for these images, I have determined not to seek permissions for these obviously fair uses” (p. 149). If more scholars took stances like Logie's the "culture of fear" that Westbrook asserts would dissipate. For example, Laura J. Gurak takes the same stance at the end of her book, Cyberliteracy: Navigating the Internet with Awareness (New Haven: Yale UP, 2001).