Piracy & Social Change| You Are Not Welcome Among Us: Pirates and the State

Jessica L. Beyer, Fenwick McKelvey


In a historical review focused on digital piracy, we explore the relationship between hacker politics and the state. We distinguish between two core aspects of piracy—the challenge to property rights and the challenge to state power—and argue that digital piracy should be considered more broadly as a challenge to the authority of the state. We trace generations of peer-to-peer networking, showing that digital piracy is a key component in the development of a political platform that advocates for a set of ideals grounded in collaborative culture, nonhierarchical organization, and a reliance on the network. We assert that this politics expresses itself in a philosophy that was formed together with the development of the state-evading forms of communication that perpetuate unmanageable networks.


pirates, information politics, intellectual property, state networks

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