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Revenge of the “Nerds”: Collective Action against Intellectual Property Maximalism in the Global Information Age



For the first time in thirty years of ever stronger intellectual property policies, a transnational coalition of Internet users was able to kill two US anti-piracy bills that were backed by some of the most politically connected and economically powerful interests in US politics. Combining insights from the literatures on social movements, networks, and Internet activism, I analyze the structure for social mobilization, the form of the coalition, the role of framing, and the use of technology contributing to its success. The literature on social movements and contentious politics addresses situations of threats or grievances that lead actors to mobilize for collective action. In this case, Goliath's latest gambit to ratchet up intellectual property standards threatened David's use of the Internet. This time David beat Goliath.