Justin Lewis
Bitter COFFEE: Negotiating the Limits of Copyleft Discourse in Digital Pirate Counterpublics. Computers and Writing. Purdue Univeristy. May 21, 2010.
Publication year: 2010


Since the widespread adoption of the internet in the late 1990s, digital piracy and its relationship to intellectual property have occupied the interests of rhetoricians and compositionists (Lunsford et. al. 1996; Johnson-Eilola 1998). DeVoss and Porter (2006) consider the relationship between digital file-sharing ethics and the process of invention in their work; further, more recent scholarship (Reyman 2009; Boyle 2008) scrutinizes the connection between digital communities and intellectual property. Piracy communities like KG and Waffles.fm have used their transnational organizational identity to mobilize copyleftists, cryptoanarchists, and virtual fortune-hunters in an alliance against the forces of increasing privatization and neoliberal market logic. In so doing, these digital communities construct rich and varied discourses that seek to redefine intellectual property outside mainstream conceptions of the term. This paper will explore not only how modern-day media raiders are constructing counterpublics who share “open” attitudes toward intellectual property, it will also consider a recent piratical incident – the COFEE episode – to test the limits of copyleft ideology in the digital world of private bittorrent communities.