I've just ordered my copy of JD Lasica's 'Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation'.
Lasica is founder of Ourmedia.org, one of the new online services ready to take advantage of the forthcoming explosion of user-created broadband media content. The book promises to provide a view on how the future of media will develop over the next few years, with particular attention paid to the effects of peer-to-peer and DRM technologies. The term 'Darknet' was coined in Microsoft research paper delivered at the 2002 ACM Workshop on DRM, defining the Darknet as a:
"collection of networks and technologies used to share digital content...not a separate physical network but an application and protocol layer riding on existing networks. Examples of darknets are peer-to-peer file sharing, CD and DVD copying, and key or password sharing on email and newsgroups."
"There seem to be no technical impediments to darknet-based peer-to-peer file sharing technologies growing in convenience, aggregate bandwidth and efficiency. The legal future of darknet-technologies is less certain, but we believe that, at least for some classes of user, and possibly for the population at large, efficient darknets will exist. The rest of this section will analyze the implications of the darknet from the point of view of individual technologies and of commerce in digital goods."
(Cory Doctorow's talk he gave at Microsoft in 2004 on the subject of DRM is worth a read)
"In this book, I use darknets as a catch-all term to refer to networks of people who rely on closed-off spaces—safe havens in both the virtual and real worlds where there is little or no fear of detection—to share copyrighted digital material with others or to escape the restrictions on digital media imposed by entertainment companies."
Lasica is convinced that 'Media will change more in the next five years than it has in the past 50 years'...and this is why I'm buying the book:
"Darknet is not another book about the excesses of copyright law -- not really. It's a look at the future of movies, television, computing, music, games, art and more -- and the choice we face as a society.
...The Darknet is less a place or a thing than an idea. On a mundane level, the Darknet is about getting free stuff. On a deeper level, it’s about millions of people engaging in a shared media experience and finding a clandestine way to detour around restrictions imposed by the entertainment industries.
Certainly, much Darknet conduct is illegal. Clearly, many underground activities are ethically dubious or flat-out wrong. But much of it is also understandable as people look for ways to restore balance to a system that has become stacked against digital culture. My intention is not to glamorize the Darknet or condemn it, but simply to help understand it.
What will the Darknet look like tomorrow? Ultimately, its dimensions will be shaped by the actions of entertainment companies and policymakers. If people are prevented by technology or law from being able to control their own media experiences, they will not fall back into passive consumer roles. Instead, they will journey underground. The Darknet may become the last refuge for the digital freedom fighters. "