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Is Online Piracy an Art Form?

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Is Online Piracy an Art Form?

Postby MrFredPFL » Sun Sep 01, 2019 9:08 pm

Story :

At the midpoint between appreciation and imitation lies piracy. An old term for maritime robbery, it has popularly come to describe digital files that are stolen, reappropriated and given out for free. The act is far-reaching, but unmistakable. It’s in the shape of a bulky zip file of Adobe Photoshop; it’s flesh-eating low quality audio, ripped from a CD and onto music forums; It’s Metallica in 2000, testifying before Senate about their entire catalogue being distributed on an illegal platform called Napster.

In early computing, before software was a commodity and hacking was criminal, programmers—including university professors, scientists and hobbyists—shared software and media as commonly as sharing recipes. The industry flourished and often spawned unique advances in computing. But looming in the background was Bill Gates, who condemned this practice as the realm of entitled criminals. “Most of you steal your software.” Scorned a young Gates in his 1976 ‘An Open Letter to Hobbyists.’ “Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid? Is this fair?”

His position was popular amongst Silicon Valley elites. They were able to impose intellectual property restrictions that drove hackers to the underground and constructed the underworld of piracy we know of today. Still, what happened to software piracy, has never touched media piracy (movies and television), which is still growing every day. It also happens that this informal industry is vastly untouched by economic plight and most importantly, in the periphery of the West. Stealing American movies is significantly un-policed in the Global South, hints of Anti-Americanism and the cultural and economic dominance of the U.S. play a part in that.

Even with the rise of legal streaming services, piracy is still the norm in developing countries. (Indian piracy sites are visited over 17 billion times a year, the highest in the Global South.) In countries like Brazil, going to the cinema is a privilege held by the middle class. That is why no one was surprised when the popular Brazillian crime drama, Tropa de Elite, reportedly had its master stolen and leaked online. Researchers found that it had been viewed by over 11 million people, months before its release.

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