Friday, September 10, 2010

Piracy: Resources

Before I begin writing on the subject, I felt that it was the most fair to provide resources for anyone seeking more information on the subjects that I'll be bringing up on EI.Net shortly. As such, here you go:

Piracy is... Good?

Mark Pesce is the creator of VRML (Virtual Reality Machine Language), the earliest Virtual Reality programming language that I'm aware of. He also happens to be a neo-Pagan, and wrote The Executable Dreamtime, one of the essays which helped shape some of the views on magick I still hold to this day. It's probably one of the most remarkable essays in Disinfo's Book of Lies, and along with the above provides a good look at what “cybermagicians” in the next century are going to look like. Piracy is... Good? is a 2005 lecture that Pesce gave, and then threw on the internet. It appeared on the internet shortly after the arrival of Torrent software, and may become a landmark in all future discussions on this subject. Many of Pesce's topics are especially prescient, and his thoughts are not to be spurned. While it relates to television and traditional media involving it, I suspect that it will have cross-over appeal for obvious reasons.

Steal This Film (Part 1). Wiki article here.

The first part was shot in Sweden in 2006 as the Pirate Bay fiasco began, and the film discusses the nature of social change, online piracy, and communications in the 21st century. It was put together on a low budget, and released for free on the internet. Due to donations, it's creators were able to put together...

Steal This Film (Part 2). Wiki article here.

The Dissolving Fortress is the second part of the documentary, dealing with the nature of social change and information. This section of the film is particularly interesting because it narrates the history of Information Piracy, beginning with the small printing press and then accelerating to the internet.

Uh. I think everyone and their mother has read Hakim Bey's TAZ by now.

I'm trying to find a rather fascinating documentary I'd seen on Pirate radio/television stations in Spain, where one professor even called what they were doing a “temporary autonomous zone,” but I can't remember the damn title. Bah.

Anyway. More to come. Notice something lacking? Oh, yeah. Mention of ships, the seas, and swashbuckling so far. That's because I'm going the William Gibson route. Why? Because last time R.O. annoyed me by raving about “rape” and “pillage.” That's called “linguistic drift,” and the reason that when peer-to-peer file sharing began, the record industry called it “Piracy.” They want you to make those associations. Which don't strictly hold any longer, as I'll explain in my forth-coming entry.

More links if/as I find them. I also need to dig through some of my books.


Rufus Opus said...

Raving!? I merely pointed out that the victims of piracy never liked it. We still don't.

True, the culture at large may benefit from the pain of the victims, so I guess that makes it ok.

Jack Faust said...

Dude. You began raving at Gordon. It looked bad, and wasn't worth touching. I'm still not touching on maritime piracy, and you still don't know it's history.

1. Maritime piracy began during the crusades, and was in effect a face-off between Islam and the Catholic church.
2. During a time of war, rape and pillage always occurs.
3. Even if you step up the discussion to the era of the British East India Trading Company - rape is not an actual topic, since violence and criminality almost always go hand in hand.
4. Information piracy and maritime piracy are not the same subject. Information piracy didn't exist before the inventing of the Printing Press.
5. You have experienced boons from information piracy yourself: recordable tape and VHS decks, DVD and cd-burners, the ability to cite and sample works on literature and music, not to mention software technology that would never have existed without the subject.
6. You aren't a victim. Your book hasn't even been pirated yet.

Now, if we want to talk about the victims? That's fine. I'll talk about the actual victims caught in the crossfire of this present culture war, and I will discuss them with actual sympathy.

And then, unlike you, I'm going to propose alternative approaches to the entire process. Will they be tried? Who knows. But it's worth a shot. And it's more than you've tried, so don't get bitter with me. You respond with rhetoric when we instead do not need rhetoric.

What we need is a plan. If that plan is curse the pirates, I promise that it will be in the long run far worse than other alternatives.

Rufus Opus said...

You didn't touch it because A) you were scared of sparring with my dizzying intellect, and B) you were afraid the crazy might rub off on you. Admit it! ;)

To correct your misrepresentations:

1. Maritime piracy began long before the crusades. As long as there have been boats, there have been pirates. Arrrr.
2. That doesn't make it right.
3. See 2.
4. Uh... Ok. What is your definition of information piracy? Copying something that you didn't write and then selling it or giving it away did not begin with the printing press. You define it, I'll stick within your parameters.
5. Are you saying recordable tape and VHS decks are the result of information piracy? I'm open to the idea.
6. You're wrong. Very wrong. I'm not telling you where my books are available on torrents, but I promise you they are.

You don't appreciate rhetoric, yet you're a master of it. This concerns me far more than any paltry subject at hand. I pray to Jesus Christ that you will one day learn to appreciate the gift you've been given. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen.

And you don't know what I've done in response to piracy, apparently. Understanding that the tech isn't going away, and that this isn't new, I've looked at ways to turn it to my advantage, and I've found quite a few. I don't talk about them because people would think it's ok to pirate from me because it actually helps me in the long run, and I don't like that people take something I'm trying to sell and give it away.

That doesn't mean I'm plugging my ears and closing my eyes and going "Curse you filthy pirates!" over and over.

That would be silly.

Jack Faust said...

Okay. This is a definition I tossed at Nicole and she approves:

Information Piracy: the unlawful copying and transmitting of information to which you are not the copyright claimant.

Now, let me take a moment to say that there's a lot of gray area in that definition and I'm aware of it. It's the one I'll be focusing on, though. And I plan to bring up the court cases that regarded "sampling music," the VHS and tape-deck recorders, etc. Because they all feed directly into the topic.

Hieronimo said...

Julius Caesar in his youth was captured by pirates and held for ransom. He was so insulted by the meagerness of the it, he insisted they increase it.

After his family paid up, he came back and killed 'em all. All of them in the entire Mediterranean. I'm sure he missed one or two.

One of his first exploits, if I'm not misremembering. More than one emperor or general started his political career by killing all the pirates.

Funny story though.

And don't forget the mysterious "Sea People" who plagued the Egyptians (and everybody else they could get to). And how 'bout them Vikings?


The Scribbler said...

Funny thing that Hiero brings up Caesar making a name for himself by kicking buccaneer butt. That was my first thought when Jack made the statement, "Maritime piracy began during the crusades, and was in effect a face-off between Islam and the Catholic church." I reckon piracy of that kind has been around as long as there have been boats and some scoundrels figured out it's easy to rob ships and the profits can be huge. So I think your historical analysis is weak there.

But I think Jack has a valid point that using the word "piracy" to describe unauthorised reproduction of proprietary data fogs the issue and tries to establish guilt by association.

I will be reading your source materials as much as time allows, Jack.