The Empire of Mind: Digital Piracy and the Anti-Capitalist Movement


337 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-3898-0
DDC 303.48'33




Charles R. Crawford, a former associate professor of computer science at
York University, is a computer programming and mathematics consultant in


This study discusses why corporations would want to control the Internet
and whether they will succeed. The author begins by looking at how
advertising and the mass media can affect the interplay between supply
and demand in any economy. He concludes that corporate control of the
mass media is used to create and sustain demand. In Chapter 2,
Strangelove criticizes the theory that corporate interests are already
successfully using the Internet as they do the older mass media. He
claims that online advertising and selling, except for pornography, have
not gained significant market share.

In Chapter 3, Strangelove looks to the future and presents the central
message of the book: “The Internet is creating an alternative
communication system that is substantially, though not wholly,
disengaged from both state and commercial control. This disengagement is
leading to an erosion of the power and privileges of ownership and of
legal regulatory mechanisms normally used to determine content and
property relations within the life of the audience.” The next three
chapters provide examples of how this disengagement is maintained; these
examples include culture jamming, blogging, and the
“reinterpretation” of trademarks such as Barbie and Ronald McDonald.
The last chapter discusses whether the disengaged Internet can be an
effective agent for significant change in the economy. Finally, there is
an extensive bibliography, a name index, and a topic index.

Strangelove’s argument that the Internet will withstand efforts to
control it would be more convincing if he explained the technical
structure of the network itself and its services. Although the Internet
is so dispersed that no one can own it outright, governments can control
it. For example, the search engine Google recently agreed that its
Chinese version would find only government-approved sites. Although The
Empire of Mind predates the Google–China story, Strangelove could have
explained in his book how a government might try to keep Google and
other search engines out of its jurisdiction.


Strangelove, Michael., “The Empire of Mind: Digital Piracy and the Anti-Capitalist Movement,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,