REVIEW: "Darknet", J. D. Lasica

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BKDRKNET.RVW   20050603

"Darknet", J. D. Lasica, 2005, 0-471-68334-5, U$25.95/C$33.99/UK#16.99
%A   J. D. Lasica
%C   5353 Dundas Street West, 4th Floor, Etobicoke, ON   M9B 6H8
%D   2005
%G   0-471-68334-5
%I   John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
%O   U$25.95/C$33.99/UK#16.99 416-236-4433 fax: 416-236-4448
%O  ( product link shortened)
  ( product link shortened)
%O   Audience n- Tech 1 Writing 2 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P   308 p.
%T   "Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation"

The introduction defines a darknet as a collective system for sharing
media files, especially those involved with the removal or
circumvention of copy protection technologies.  As such, it is
basically what is also referred to as a file sharing or peer-to-peer
(in the non-technical sense) network, and later the book says that
*the* "Darknet" is the merging of all such networks.  Lasica also
notes other possible implications of the term Darknet, such as the
fear that excessive copyright and digital rights restrictions may
having a chilling effect on creativity and free speech.  (Neither the
consistency of capitalization nor the usage of the term darknet become
any more definite as the book progresses.)

Chapter one provides some stories from the world of "personal media":
works created by individuals.  There is not much analysis of the
content, although there are lots of anecdotes and quotes.  Gambits,
particularly by movie producers, to extend copyright protections and
restrict use, are covered in chapter two.  "Release groups," discussed
in chapter three, break copy protection and distribute new movies over
the net.  Personal media gets more coverage in chapter four.  Chapters
five and six review various new technologies, first for compression
and transmission, then for modified usage, such as systems that
automatically "G-rate" restricted movies.  The point of chapter six is
somewhat confused, and this turmoil is even more evident in chapter
seven, where accounts of people doing "good works" with pirated
material seems to be intended to raise some kind of issue with respect
to copyright.  (Lasica has a brief mention of a new kind of fair use
which he calls "digital rights," but the topic is abandoned
undefined.)  Chapter eight is back to personal media (with personal
broadcasting), and nine has more modified use technologies such as
TiVO, ad skipping, and modified pay-per-view.  Music gets special
attention in chapters ten and eleven, first with collections and
playlists, and then with modified use.  Chapter twelve provides some
historical notes on early file sharing networks.  Gaming, and the
trading of game "content," is discussed in chapter thirteen.  And
there is yet one more run at "personal media" in chapter fourteen.

As can be seen by the outline, the same themes and topics tend to be
repeated several times.  The stories are easy to read, but the social
ramifications promised in the early parts of the text do not
materialize.  The narratives are fun, but there is nothing here that
hasn't been said before in the mass of magazine articles that have
been written on the subject.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2005   BKDRKNET.RVW   20050603

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