Hot Property: The Stealing of Ideas in an Age of Globalization
by Pat Choate
Knopf, 352 pp., $26.95
What do Napster and pharmaceuticals have to do with one another? More than you think, according to Pat Choate's Hot Property: The Stealing of Ideas in an Age of Globalization. Over the course of 300-plus pages, Choate Ross Perot's presidential running mate in 1996 breezes through a few hundred years of intellectual property issues. The dense subject matter pops off the page, but it will probably only affect readers with an eager interest in the history. Don't be shocked if Choate's tome one day becomes required reading at law schools, as there are enough facts and figures to clog up your peer-to-peer file-sharing. One can almost envision the multiple-choice questions to be derived from such tidbits as the fact that three in five music recordings in Mexico are pirated. Plus, Choate takes a look at the bigger picture, surveying the history of America and its foundation built upon patent theft and copyright infringement. Meanwhile, life-and-death counterfeiting examples such as defective pharmaceuticals and airplane parts help drive home Hot Property's anti-piracy message. With moments focused on the early loss of Napster and the recent emergence of iTunes, the music industry mostly takes a back seat in favor of a more historical (and only occasionally dry) perspective.