Blackspot

Support Online Piracy

Piracy is a litmus test for authentic culture and a censorship-free internet.
Spoof designed by The Pirate Bay, the world's largest online piracy website.

The battle between online pirates and corporations is heating up. In the last few days both sides have had significant victories. The pirates have proven yet again that they have guts after a version of the newest X-Men film was released onto The Piratebay, the world's largest pirate website, before it was released in the theatres. But the corporations are fighting back in States such as France and Sweden which have passed laws that will, if unopposed, inaugurate the death of the internet dream. No longer a wild frontier, unsettled and open to future possibilities, the fight against online piracy is justifying increasingly draconian measures that will put our online behavior under the corporate-capitalist microscope. Under the pretense of monitoring whether we are downloading pirated culture, corporations have engineered a symbolic coup in which the spirit of the internet has become inverted. The capitalist bullies are taking back the playground, unless we fight back. The only way forward, toward the original dream of censorship-free communication, is to build mainstream support for online piracy based on the argument that piracy is a litmus test for authentic culture.

The French plan to lock down the Internet involves, predictably, collusion between the State and corporations. According to the New York Times, "The law empowers music and film industry associations to hire companies to analyze the downloads of individual users to detect piracy, and to report violations to a new agency overseeing copyright protection. The agency would be authorized to trace the illegal downloads back to individuals using the downloading computer’s unique identification number, known as its Internet Protocol, or IP, address, which the Internet service providers have on record." In other words, all French internet traffic will be turned over to private corporations who will sift through every website visited, email read, and late-night IM conversation had looking for "illegal downloading". If a user is caught three times, then their internet connection is disconnected, permanently. Such an audacious internet surveillance scheme would probably not have passed had it not targeted an activity few of us are willing to stand up and publicly endorse. That is precisely the reason we must do so: if online piracy is the backdoor by which control of the internet will come, then we must openly acknowledge what many of us already secretly believe -- that online culture should be free and remixable, the laws of capitalism shall not apply here.

Piracy... the word sends shivers up the spine as it evokes hungry Somali pirates seizing cargo and holding hostages. But online piracy is not the same, to make a copy is not a depletion, but a multiplication of the original. Online piracy, we should really call it online replication, is a beautiful thing for it offers an easy litmus test for authentic culture. Take, for example, two hypothetical films: one made by struggling idealistic art students and the other by a big name director backed by a major studio with a multimillion dollar budget and nationwide advertising campaign. If each film was pirated and watched by a million people we could reasonably expect that the film students would be ecstatic (without an advertising budget their film would have been doomed to the art house circuit) while the big name director would be furious. Why? Because the film students are doing it for art while the director is doing it for the money. This is, in simple terms, what I believe the political potential of piracy to be -- piracy allows us to quickly ascertain the authenticity of a cultural product. Roughly, we could say that an authentic cultural production would be one that does not suffer from piracy because the artistic goal is in line with remix culture. Let us endorse the artists who support piracy and pirate the ones who don't. In this way we will be helping authentic culture while destroying inauthentic, capitalist culture.

There is no swifter way to bring about the de-commercialization of art than to undercut the profit motive. Likewise, there is no better way to promote a blackspot culture than to actively copy and distribute the cultural productions that speak to us and the future we'd like to build. If we pirate everything, how will the artists get paid? That is precisely the point: piracy opens up the possibility of imagining new ways of being and new ways of supporting the potential of art to change the world.

Micah White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters magazine and an independent activist. He is writing a book on the future of activism. www.micahmwhite.com

Attention: What does the blackspot mean to you? If you have something to share that will further the blackspot philosophy, write it up in under 300 words and send it to micah (at) adbusters.org.

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164 comments on the article “Support Online Piracy”

Displaying 91 - 100 of 164

Page 10 of 17

Lafcadio Drag a...

Art is useless, junk. There is very little that art can ever say about the soul of man. Lots of coin flips and perspectives and flowery architecture. There are mountains and mountains of unseen and unexperienced art. There is unimaginable art being made right this moment, there is unimaginable art made before you were even born. In fact art is such a natural commodity that only a madman would invest in it. Why not invest in goods and scarcities that we literally need. To trace a line to the current culture consumer... "The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new." Who said we needed anything new anyway? Look around at the record stacks. Bloody hell. I think the modern struggle of understanding is coming to accept that we ought to throw in the towel of aesthetic creation as well as getting real damn jobs that we believe are incredibly vital and sustainable to mankind. Shit fill your time with an evolutionary movement or two, don't high minded "sensitive" individuals have something better to do these days. Viva la Anti-Art and all for the good life.

Lafcadio Drag a...

Art is useless, junk. There is very little that art can ever say about the soul of man. Lots of coin flips and perspectives and flowery architecture. There are mountains and mountains of unseen and unexperienced art. There is unimaginable art being made right this moment, there is unimaginable art made before you were even born. In fact art is such a natural commodity that only a madman would invest in it. Why not invest in goods and scarcities that we literally need. To trace a line to the current culture consumer... "The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new." Who said we needed anything new anyway? Look around at the record stacks. Bloody hell. I think the modern struggle of understanding is coming to accept that we ought to throw in the towel of aesthetic creation as well as getting real damn jobs that we believe are incredibly vital and sustainable to mankind. Shit fill your time with an evolutionary movement or two, don't high minded "sensitive" individuals have something better to do these days. Viva la Anti-Art and all for the good life.

peep

Yes, nice call, in the future everything will be pirated with nano-tech print based machines. For now watch all the corp monopolies crumble; and crumbling they are. The Cd is dead, the music company is dead, the newspaper is dead, the journalist is dead......next is the film industry, then the fashion industry. The point is : what will arrive from this media/cultural upheaval. Think new transformational products ipods, kindles. New media; blogs; more live music shows. The possibilities seem limitless. Another side of the story are the mass layoffs in the media/music industry. I was laid off from my journalism job. I don't care one bit - it was a soul destroying and corporate pressured occupation. I now work in the third sector and I'm making a real difference; a more 'valuable' contribution. Bring on the new, hopefully ethical, industries in a post-collapse; and in a post-media and post-carbon world!

peep

Yes, nice call, in the future everything will be pirated with nano-tech print based machines. For now watch all the corp monopolies crumble; and crumbling they are. The Cd is dead, the music company is dead, the newspaper is dead, the journalist is dead......next is the film industry, then the fashion industry. The point is : what will arrive from this media/cultural upheaval. Think new transformational products ipods, kindles. New media; blogs; more live music shows. The possibilities seem limitless. Another side of the story are the mass layoffs in the media/music industry. I was laid off from my journalism job. I don't care one bit - it was a soul destroying and corporate pressured occupation. I now work in the third sector and I'm making a real difference; a more 'valuable' contribution. Bring on the new, hopefully ethical, industries in a post-collapse; and in a post-media and post-carbon world!

Anonymous

So you support content theft? don't the actors, editors, ghopers, graphic artists and even delivery truck drivers deserve to get pay? cheap bastards. how would you feel if your boss did not pay you?

Anonymous

So you support content theft? don't the actors, editors, ghopers, graphic artists and even delivery truck drivers deserve to get pay? cheap bastards. how would you feel if your boss did not pay you?

Lafcadio Drag a...

Delivery drivers deserve to get paid. It's not my fault that they chose to work in a useless industry.

Lafcadio Drag a...

Delivery drivers deserve to get paid. It's not my fault that they chose to work in a useless industry.

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