I wrote Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars with the bold goal of changing the way we think about copyright. I set this goal not out of arrogance, but out of despair - despair over the way debates over the important social issues raised by the creation and use of works of authorship have degenerated into little more than election-year mudslinging. Language has been an important weapon in these tussles, as the warring parties attempt to demonize each other.
I examine the history and myths surrounding the copyright, as well as various origin stories that attempt to find in the past people's present ideologies. I assert that copyright is a set of social relations, intended to serve the important social goals of furthering knowledge and creativity. Approaching copyright this way avoids the "them versus us" dichotomy we currently face where copyright owners claim copyright is a form of Blackstonian private property over which they can exercise absolute dominion, and conversely, where those attacking what they regard as excessive copyright protection regard copyright as an evil monopoly to be repealed.
Instead, the book explains why copyright should be regarded as a government program, intended to provide incentives for socially useful purposes. As a set of social relations, we must accept that copyright should be regulated in order to ensure it is serving its valuable public purpose. This means that calls for stronger copyright, just like calls for weaker copyright miss the point entirely; we have need only of effective copyright laws, with "effective" being measured by whether our copyright laws are serving their intended purpose. I reject therefore the copyright equivalent of free market fundamentalism, in which it is asserted markets will always represent the most rational - and therefore best - outcome.