On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

The people who wouldn’t allow endlessly molecular slippage

In file-sharing, media ecology, philosophy, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on March 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm

In Sweden, we seem to prefer even the most nebulous, awesomely vast and non-overseeable phenomenon to be formulated in terms that carry at least a modicum of solidarity and national-corporatist coherence.

The state battles file-sharing using corporatist measures, but ironically the file-sharing world itself – as a product of the same society, the same morality and concept of liberty – is also construed in corporatist terms (albeit of a slightly different flavour than the strong-arm authoritarian state corporatism that the EU currently favours towards all things digital). But this is perhaps also what gives the Swedish file-sharing phenomenon its potency; pirates, warts and all.

Here follows some more excerpts/cut-outs from my thesis…

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To speak for one’s own network

In file-sharing, media ecology, philosophy, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on March 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm

The first Pirate Bay trial is over (the verdict is due to be announced on April the 17th, and I write “first” as it will probably be followed by appeals upon appeals).
A new decade is upon us. This comes to mark what I, and many people with me, would argue is the “post-piratical” era
.

The files have already been uploaded. A jurisdictional bulwark (IPRED; ACTA; FRA; data retention) has been raised throughout Europe, to allegedly deal with the nastier sides of unrestricted file-sharing – while the everday, small-scale sharing of perfectly normal individuals continues and seems to do so for the unforeseeable future, and while even bigger, more institutionalised actors like The Pirate Bay seem slippery to blame and to admonish. This, since the entire phenomenon appears to be distinguished by an agency that is so fractured and distributed, that no one actor can be said to bear the only responsibility.
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The carrot and the schtick?

In censorship, copyright, file-sharing, p2p, politics, surveillance, Sweden on October 31, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Peer-to-peer-based file-sharing in Sweden: Clashing proposals from the interventionist state on what to do with a wildly file-sharing population. Pacify them with broadband-tax subsidised, “free” file-sharing or instil a general fear of uploading by penalising those who do?

In the current, once again harshening legal climate surrounding p2p-based file-sharing in Sweden, where the infamous EU-wide IPRED directive is now making inroads and might be implemented early next year (effectively granting powers to private bodies to monitor and police what they consider illegal copyright infringements), it is noteable that there are two strands of the debate which both assume state intervention, but in different ways. These two forms of intervention – in effect, corporatist solutions where existing industries are subsidised by the state – are, however, seemingly incompatible with one another!

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Afterthoughts on the Pirate Bay controversy, part 2

In file-sharing, media ecology, p2p, politics, Sweden on September 16, 2008 at 6:45 pm

As I have described earlier, an indexing of torrent links constitutes one among many other forms of making-public; that is, publication.

2) Different degrees of making-public
Publication is not an absolute term; there are degrees of making public. A document passing in or out of a Swedish public institution is by default defined as legally public. However, parts of it can be censored under certain conditions. Further, due to more recent data protection laws (PUL), an administrative document like this can actually be public yet simultaneously not intended for further circulation, or mass-reproduction.
In the now-infamous case, as so often when Internet technologies are involved, the agency which acts to make public does not reside in but one actor. It is rather to be seen as an upshot of the sad configuration which arises between actors in a media ecology we are still grasping to fully understand: Read the rest of this entry »

Afterthoughts on the Pirate Bay controversy, part 1

In file-sharing, media ecology, p2p, politics, Sweden on September 16, 2008 at 6:27 pm

…and hopefully the beginning of a debate on what “making public” really means in an era of rapidly increasing digital accessibility and complex media ecologies.

1) The interests and range of action of The Pirate Bay
On Thursday 11 September, Swedish public service television SVT hosted a debate on the affair which The Pirate Bay has recently been the focus of. This whole affair flared up due to the Swedish commercial broadcaster TV4 making the “scoop” that public documents containing forensic evidence from a recent, very well-known Swedish murder case were floating around as BitTorrent files, and that the initial link to these files was posted on the site in question. A veritable torrent of interest was then generated by this TV4 news story, and the number of downloads of said torrent increased near-exponentially. Read the rest of this entry »

The Pirate Bay: the fine line between publishing and “merely providing” data

In file-sharing, media ecology, p2p, politics, Sweden on September 6, 2008 at 2:44 pm

A recent controversy illustrates the dual role of The Pirate Bay. When this infamous web site published links to files containing forensic evidence in a well-known Swedish murder case, and the victims asked to have the links removed, the website administrators staunchly refused.
Is this example of making-public controversial data to be seen as the operation of an allegedly “neutral” service provider? Or should we rather see any such operation as a form of publishing (making-public) in and by itself? Especially since The Pirate Bay is a website which does all this within a commercial remit. And more importantly: the site itself actually serves to change public opinion on what material should be publicised or best left untouched…
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Some notes on Internet and media history

In history, media ecology, politics on December 4, 2007 at 12:53 pm

…an overview of some current issues in the online world, intended for the UG course in Media History and Politics, Goldsmiths College.

A worldwide communications network whose cables spanned continents and oceans, it revolutionised business practice, gave rise to new forms of crime, and inundated its users with a deluge of information. Romances blossomed over the wires. Secret codes were devised by some users, and cracked by others. The benefits of the network were relentlessly hyped by its advocates, and dismissed by the sceptics. Governments and regulators tried and failed to control the new medium. Attitudes to everything from newsgathering to diplomacy had to be completely rethought. Meanwhile, out on the wires, a technological subculture with its own customs and vocabulary was establishing itself. (Tom Standage, The Victorian Internet, p. 1) Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Commons consolidates old-school copyright? That argument is secondary

In copyright, Creative Commons, media ecology, politics on September 29, 2006 at 5:50 pm

There is a type of criticism against Creative Commons which has grown quite prominent within the copyleft recently. The main tenet in this line of argumentation seems to be that Creative Commons through its reliance on the existing copyright regime actually reinforces copyright.
For example, Crosbie Fitch recently argued for this stance on the fc-uk-discuss mailing list. He described Creative Commons (CC) as flawed, because it helps consolidating old-school copyright:

CC is flawed in that it consolidates the perception that the artist should be able to control the use of their art.
[…]
CC consolidates copyright.
It is as if the IP maximalists said to a great lawyer “How can we get the masses to respect our copyrights?”, and he replied “Simple: encourage the masses to embrace copyright themselves, in everything they do. If everyone believes in it, it becomes more powerful. They will then perceive their use of manacles upon their culture as enfranchising, as their own emancipation.” Read the rest of this entry »

Supervision without the promised security

In politics, surveillance, Sweden on January 24, 2006 at 7:47 pm

The harsh legal stronghold besieging our digital commons, that leading European politicians are currently arguing for, is not only putting the personal integrity of citizens at risk – it is also symptomatic for how allegedly democratic measures can in effect be jeopardizing democracy. What is worse, it is a strategy which cannot keep what it promises, thus amounting to hypocrisy, argues Jonas Andersson, media researcher at Goldsmiths College, London.

The main problem with the come-lately abrasive policy of these European politicians is not integrity per se, the problem is that the propositions will fail to do what the lawmakers think they will do; the supervision relies on a false hope of security. Read the rest of this entry »