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Authors | Adrian Johns

Adrian Johns is Allan Grant Maclear Professor at the University of Chicago, where he teaches in the Department of History and the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science. Educated at Cambridge, he previously taught at the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of The Nature of the Book (1998), Piracy (2009), and Death of a Pirate (2010). His research currently centers on the global industry that works to protect information and intellectual property.

Articles on Amodern by Adrian Johns


With the rise of the information economy has come an industry devoted to policing that economy. It is a hybrid enterprise, composed of both public institutions like the FBI and private companies marketing protective and detective services. Its announced purpose is the defense of intellectual property.  But its scope extends far beyond that, overlapping with the security industry made so notorious by the Snowden affair.  In fact, this industry has shaped many of the everyday practices defining our culture of information.  This paper describes how the information defense industry grew to become a global network enterprise, and argues that it is vital for us to appreciate it in these terms.