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The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism Hardcover – January 8, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416532188
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416532187
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,163,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Music journalist Mason, a former pirate radio and club DJ in London, explores how open source culture is changing the distribution and control of information and harnessing the old system of punk capitalism to new market conditions governing society. According to Mason, this movement's creators operate according to piratical tactics and are changing the very nature of our economy. He charts the rise of the ideas and social experiments behind these latter-day pirates, citing the work of academics, historians and innovators across a multitude of fields. He also explores contributions by visionaries like Andy Warhol, 50 Cent and Dr. Yuref Hamied, who was called a pirate and a thief after producing anti-HIV drugs for Third World countries that cost as little as $1 a day to produce. Pirates, Mason states, sail uncharted waters where traditional rules don't apply. As a result, they offer great ways to service the public's best interests. According to Mason, how people, corporations and governments react to these changes is one of the most important economic and cultural questions of the 21st century. Well-written, entertaining and highly original, Mason offers a fascinating view of the revolutionary forces shaping the world as we know it. (Jan. 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Reading "The Pirate's Dilemma" is like stepping into a parallel universe [that is] vast and deep...Mason nimbly guides us through decades of the underground youth scene [in a] tour [that] is diverting and written in a pleasing patter...Something more...than a business book [and] more satisfying -- more authentic, as he might put it -- than most books that rave about the Web 2.0." -James Pressley, "Newsday"

More About the Author

Matt Mason began his career as a pirate radio and club DJ in London, going on to become founding Editor-in-Chief of the seminal magazine RWD. In 2004, he was selected as one of the faces of Gordon Brown's Start Talking Ideas campaign, and was presented the Prince's Trust London Business of the Year Award by HRH Prince Charles.

He has written and produced TV series, comic strips, viral videos and records, and his journalism has appeared in The Observer Music Monthly, VICE, Complex and other publications in more than 12 countries around the world. He recently founded the non-profit media company Wedia with his wife Emily. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

I am just totally blown away by this book.
Robert David STEELE Vivas
The author also manages to use every cliche he could think of, from "too fast to live, too young to die" to describing Sid Vicious (at least he spelled it right!)
Mason surveys the landscape for piracy and finds it everywhere, from music remixing to viral hip-hop videos.
Rolf Dobelli

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Antonio Lopez on June 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is slightly maddening. The intention is valid: to steer people towards thinking about piracy in a new light. The "pirate's dilemma" is whether to persecute and shut down piracy, or to recognize it as a kind of creative competition. If you can't beat them, join them. The thrust of Mason's argument can be summarized by the two models of music industry approaches to P2P file sharing: either go the route of Apple and create a cheap, viable option for consumers, or the RIAA route and sue its customers.

As a former DJ, Mason cuts and pastes his way through the book with anecdotes. At first I found the approach a little obnoxious-- a kind of overly cheerful airline-style of magazine writing. As a former punk, I found the whole chapter on punk capitalism a little superficial, which lacked a discussion of a really important DIY capitalist, Discord Records. The section of the "Tao of Pirates" was also missing an important discussion of pirate culture, i.e. the black beard types that are so discussed so interestingly in Wilson's Pirate Utopias. I think the word pirate is used too general. Basically, anyone under 50 is a pirate these days, and I don't thing that's true. Also, the remix section failed to credit Dada.

But as I read on, I warmed up to the book and found the discussion of guerrilla marketing and hip hop pretty good. There was some history and anecdotes that I wasn't aware of, so I was pleasantly surprised here and there. Still, if you want a more in-depth analysis of the economic situation of open source, read Benkler's
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Steve Adams on January 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Earlier this year Matt (the author) sent me a message and said that he was writing a book about how corporations have trouble adapting to the changing times and needs of people in the Information Age. Just recently he started his blog The Pirate's Dilemma ([...]) that explains this phenomenon further every day. I couldn't wait for the book to drop so I asked him to shoot me was already forthcoming and it appeared in the mail the very next day via his publicist. Let me break it down for y'all:

As we all know, youth culture has helped to change and reshape the world over and over again throughout history. Ever since World War 2 ended and the world at large became aware that teenagers even existed, the world hasn't been the same since. The old saying is that necessity is the mother of invention, whenever there has been an overlooked or under represented segment in society they have made their presence felt by creating their own culture. This culture usually comes with it's own brand of music, dancing or a style of dress. Once this culture hits the public consciousness then corporations develop the need/want to turn this audience into consumers of their product and convey a message to them that they "get" you and support your lifestyle. The thing is that since the advent of cool hunting and mass advertising has oversaturated the marketplace people can just tune out all those advertisments. Furthermore, with so many advances in technology today the knowledgeable consumer can pretty much create their own products and cut out the big corporations.

Since these same corporations are trying to jump on that new niche culture to gain a cache of cool, these new niche markets/cultures have adapted to the climate and become harder and harder to nail downby ad agencies.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Certainly the ideas expressed in The Pirate's Dilemma are controversial and provocative - and clearly intended to be so. Idiotic? Hardly. The author does not advocate piracy for its own sake, nor does he glorify graffiti as an art form per se, but in each case he posits the potential for positive social good that is perhaps an unintended consequence of these self interested practices. For instance, piracy can force companies to do more than run to its lawyers - by forcing the companies to compete with the pirates, economic advantage accrue to society at large as well as to the company itself. In essence, the author makes a case not for theft, but rather, for economic efficiency (making at least one person better off and nobody worse off), achieved perhaps by one's (the pirate's) own self interest which translates ultimately into a larger social good. Does this sound familiar?

If this is idiocy, I'm all for it!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
One the whole, this book offers an excellent snapshot into some of the issues currently driving the online world. While I thought it was an overall good read, this book is not without its flaws. Sometimes the author's opinion is concise and his criticism is well-aimed, such as when he addresses the music industry's decisions to punish its suppliers and its customers for its own mistakes. Especially noteworthy is how he takes what might be run of the mill criticism and offers alternative course of actions, elevating some of the book from the standard armchair quarterbacking into something that could be (gasp!) useful to the reader.

Unfortunately, this book also includes some filler. I am especially disappointed that he spent so much time extolling the virtues of hip-hop as both the original youth oriented remix-friendly music and `voice of the streets' (apostrophes for emphasis, not a quote) while totally ignoring, for example, Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie (and others)deciding to remix their pop music at warp speeds, ignoring the dictum that music should be the background for swing dancers.

On the whole, the book is worthwhile and is significantly better when paired with the companion website (and maybe that's the point).
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