Magazine July 20, 2009, Issue

Man, Machine, and Copyright

People attend a workshop at the Wide Web Conference in Madrid, Spain, April 20, 2009. (Susana Vera/Reuters)
Digital Barbarism: A Writer's Manifesto, by Mark Helprin (HarperCollins, 256 pp., $24.99)

It would be difficult to think of anyone more ideally suited to pen a passionate defense of copyright law than novelist Mark Helprin. Helprin has written several of the finest works of modern literature, including his masterpiece, A Soldier of the Great War, a narrative of transcendent beauty. In Digital Barbarism, Helprin sets out to use his formidable gift for the written word to repel the “cyber mob” that has attacked copyright law and called for its curtailment, or even abolition.

Unfortunately, while Helprin occasionally rises to great heights in his defense of copyright, he too often sinks to lamentable lows

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