Digital Pirates
Policing Intellectual Property in Brazil
Alexander Sebastian Dent




THE AUTHOR OF A BOOK about piracy should probably cop to all the thieving the project required.

In Brazil, I stole untold acts of kindness from my Brazilian family, Nícia and Ivanil Bonatti and their sons Flávio, Thiago, and Daniel. I have similarly pilfered the Schumaker clan, including Roberto, Teca, and Felipe. I took all kinds of interviews and observational data from numerous police officers, NGO workers, informal economy workers and clients, and pirates—who shall remain anonymous.

Colleagues who work on piracy seem to be unusually lax about keeping a watchful eye on their stuff. In Brazil, I helped myself to the untold generosity of Oona Castro, Ronaldo Lemos, Pedro Mizukami, Pablo Ortellado, Rosana Pinheiro Machado, and Jhessica Reia. In the United States, it isn’t difficult to quantify how much I took from Michael Carroll, Sean Flynn, Peter Jaszi, Joe Karaganis, and Susan Sell. I’m going to be cagey about the precise dollar value, but suffice it to say that whatever I took cost millions and prevented them from accessing important oxygen and fresh water. Colleagues at the US Trade Representative (USTR) were also remarkably careless about thoughts, words, and deeds—so I took from them, too, though they shall remain nameless. Mea culpa.

I was excessively light-fingered where I teach, at the George Washington (GW) University. In unguarded moments, I filched from Attiya Ahmad, Catherine Allen, Robert Baker, Joshua Bell, Jeff Blomster, Douglas Boyce, Ilana Feldman, Richard Grinker, Hugh Gusterson, Susan Johnston, Joel Kuipers, Steven Lubkeman, Marilyn Merritt, Barbara Miller, Robert Shepherd, Chet Sherwood, and Sarah Wagner. I also used verbal skills to extort grant money from The George Washington University on numerous occasions; the Office of Research and Strategic Initiatives should check its pockets, particularly Yongwu Rong.

At workshops and conferences, I simply lifted the productive questions and comments of Maria José de Abreu, José Carlos Aguiar, Richard Bauman, Dominic Boyer, Don Brenneis, Carlo Caduff, Amy Chazkel, Gabriella Coleman, John Collins, Rosemany Coombe, Vincent Crapanzano, Shannon Dawdy, Chris Dunn, Marshall Eakin, Falina Enriquez, Alex Fattal, Paja Faudree, Aaron Fox, Laurie Frederik, Ilana Gershon, James Green, Shane Greene, Bridget Guarasci, Zeynep Gursel, Ben Harbert, Charles Hirschkind, Jason Jackson, Kajri Jain, Webb Keane, Chris Kelty, Michael Lempert, Lawrence Liang, Joe Masco, Andrew Mathews, Sean Mitchell, Megan Moodie, Rosalind Morris, Mary Murrell, Paul Nadasdy, Constantine Nakassis, David Novak, Ana Maria Ochoa Gautier, Derek Pardue, Marina Peterson, Fernando Rabossi, Danilyn Rutherford, Matt Sakakeeny, Steven Sangren, Roger Sansi-Roca, Dan Sharp, Jesse Shipley, Patricia Spyer, Rebecca Stein, Kedron Thomas, Anna Tsing, Catherine Verdury, Winnie Wong, Sha Xin Wei, and Martin Zillinger.

The work of my past teachers continues to provide productive sources of plunder, in particular Andrew Apter, Philip Bohlman, James Boon, Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, John Comaroff, John Kelly, Elizabeth Povinelli, Michael Silverstein, and Terry Turner.

A cluster of graduate students at GW have been too generous, in particular, Chloe Ahman, Angelique Baehr, Jorge Benavides, Dana Burton, Jessica Chandras, Schweta Krishnan, Sam Pfister, Devin Proctor, Sarah Richardson, Scott Ross, and Kaitlyn Schoenike; Emma Backe and Raquel Machaqueiro contributed invaluable editing. Undergraduates who helped include Lauren Deal, Amanda Kemble, Briel Kobak, and Sarah Otis.

In DC, music friends who were caught unawares by my wiles include Mark Andersen, Amy Farina, Josh Freed, Chris Hamley, Ian MacKaye, and Avi Zevin.

I have pirated these chapters from previously published work. Parts of this book appeared in American Ethnologist, Anthropological Quarterly, Cultural Anthropology, Current Anthropology, and in a volume on cellular phones edited by Joshua Bell and Joel Kuipers and published by Routledge. I am required to thank these journals and publisher: thank you for allowing me to steal from works I wrote (but you helped me to circulate).

My editor at Stanford Press, Michelle Lipinski, has been a tireless supporter, rigorous questioner, and keen critic. I am deeply grateful for her engagement, her knowledge of this subject, and her sharp eye for nonsense.

And finally, why steal exclusively in professional circles? A good pirate is coherent if not always concise. I also stole the love and support of my wife, Kye, and our two boys, Neko and Sloan.

I’d say I owe all of you if that were how a pirate thinks. However, I hope I can genuinely say “thank you” without losing all credibility.