Sunday, 9 September 2012

Editorial: Art Fist Issue Seven editorial

Avast! Isn’t it about time we had a serious, dispassionate debate about piracy and copyright? I’m sick of hearing about how bad piracy is. I hate it when I watch a film and have to wait for about three minutes because my DVD player won’t let me skip past that horrible ‘you wouldn’t steal a handbag’, ‘you wouldn’t steal a car ’, ‘you wouldn’t steal a movie’ – that’s very presumptuous and very patronising: to watch this movie I ram-raided a shop in a stolen car, shoved the disc into a stolen handbag and made my getaway cackling like a mad-man. But seriously, this short film actually has the opposite effect: it annoys me so much that I just think, actually, next time I’ll just
download it and not have to be told that I wouldn’t steal a movie again.

The fact is that piracy is necessary for progress and innovation. If you trace the history of pretty much any industry which is based on creative or intellectual property – film, cable TV, radio, music – you will find that piracy was involved at the beginning.

Filmmakers migrated to Hollywood to avoid paying royalties for film patents created by Thomas Edison. Early cable TV networks refused to pay royalties to other broadcasters, essentially acting like a file-sharing network for over 30 years. Radio stations as we know them today only exist because of the innovations of pirates. Commercial radio was illegal, but the pirates had paid advertising and played popular music, this is now a legitimate business model which we are all familiar with. Sampling and remixing all developed from the illegal copying and manipulation of someone else’s creating.

The fact is this: piracy challenges monopolies and regulations; it creates innovation and competition and is absolutely necessary. Rather than seeing piracy as something which funds terrorism and organised crime (as the propaganda films may purport), we have to think of how dull life would be if restrictive monopolies and copyright restrictions had been left unchallenged.By the way, we encourage you to forward, distribute and print as many copies of Art Fist as you would like.

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