Kartritning och piratologi

9 november 2005

Via NODE.London hittar jag några projekt som involverar Armin Medosch, som tidigare skrivit en läsvärd bok om fria nätverk, Freie Netze (på tyska, kan laddas ner som PDF).
Bland annat Community Mapping, ett redskap för att kollektivt rita kartor över städer, med flera lager av valfritt innehåll, exempelvis personliga känslor. Det handlar där inte om exakta geografiska angivelser – man säger sig inte vilja följa en hel drös liknande konstprojekt ner i fällan där man förlitar sig på satellitteknologin GPS. Lovande ambitioner – men ännu ingen prototyp att utpröva.
Tankar kring projektet Kingdom of Piracy – ursprungligen baserat på ett konstcenter i Taiwan, men vräkt av sponsorn under landets antipiratupptrappning 2002 – återger Armin Medosch under rubriken Piratology:

Piracy does not simply exist because there are bloody-minded people who don’t care for the rules and laws of the civilised world. It tends to emerge whenever there is a hegemonic power that asserts itself by establishing a trade monopoly. (…)
Brand names, patents and copyright work together to create regional and global monopolies. (…) Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 provides the United States with the authority to enforce trade agreements, resolve trade disputes and open foreign markets to US goods and services – what is, on US terms, called to ‘levelling the playing field’. Whiteg Weng shows how the use of Section 301 has eroded traditional import routes for Western books, music and movies in Taiwan. Local importers have been replaced by American chains. At the same time, trade in pirated goods thrives in Taipei’s Guang Hu market, a pirate haven not only for software and music CDs but also for generic computer chips. The need for cheaper versions of copyrighted goods has led to the creation of grey markets in Asian metropolitan areas.

In downtown Bangkok, Thailand, a big modern department store called Pantip Plaza is almost entirely dedicated to software, film and music piracy. The multi-storey building is filled with many small shops and stalls that offer large selections of goods. On display are only the CD covers in laser or bubble-jet print-outs. The customer writes down the numbers of the CDs or DVDs she wants, gives the list to a staff member, pays the equivalent of US$2 or $2.50 and waits 15 or 20 minutes until the CDs are brought in from storage outside the building. The whole affair is conducted entirely in the open, and, it seems, no one is afraid of any official crackdown. American officials from the Department of Trade call at regular intervals for stronger government measures to clamp down on this sort of activity. But nobody seems to have told that to the young Thai people and foreigners who gloat over CD covers of commercial software, games, expensive modelling applications and professional music editing suites. What Western companies define as piracy might from a local point of view be an act of economic retaliation, which may explain in part the leniency of the Thai government.

Bangkokbob.net berättar att det varit en antipiraträd på Pantip under september men att handeln börjar återgå till det normala, med låga priser och stort utbud av både hårdvara och CD.
Texten tar också upp hur fri mjukvara och P2P-fildelning samverkar i att upprätta ett slags rum, byggt på fritt tillgänglig information, verktyg och infrastrukturer. Det ges också några reflektioner kring piratbegreppet:
As Bernhard Günther points out, Hollywood has produced numerous pirate movies where audience sympathies were usually with the somehow more ‘human’ pirates, rather than with the captains of the navy frigates. People on the street tend to favour the underdog. By chosing the term ‘piracy‘, Hollywood has maybe failed to understand its own propaganda of an earlier age. (…)
Can the negativity associated with piracy be turned around? Maybe it does not need to be. It was not us who chose the term. It was ascribed to activities that we sometimes might be involved in; even so, we don’t feel that we are committing a crime, and as ordinary people are usually not inclined to get involved with something illegal. We don’t need to find consolation in tales of romantic pirate utopias. A fundamental change is happening right now at the centre of relations of productive forces that will render the question irrelevant. (…)
The essence of any digital operation is copy and paste – or open file, transform file, save file. German hacker legend Wau Holland has called computers and the Internet ‘a giant information reproduction and dissemination machine’. If the source material of any such digital operation is copyrighted then any act of copy and paste or open and save is illegal. The intentions of the copyright industry are opposed to the inherent logic of digital technology.

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