B- Medosch argues that: ‘piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions’. (Medosch, 2008 pp81)
Piracy has the ability to fulfil ‘culturally important functions’. In particular, Internet piracy (as opposed to physical acts of piracy, such as burning DVDs and CDs, etc.) has had great effects on creating a positive globalised world.
Firstly, online piracy enables people from all over the world to have access to entertainment and knowledge that they would not have previously had without the Internet. Websites such as http://beemp3.com allow Internet users to upload and download content, no matter where they are in the world. Sites like this have the ability to present productions from alternative cultures to users and open them up to things they may never have seen or heard before. These sites not only provide people in remote areas with access to content they may find difficult to physically locate, but also people who cannot afford to purchase entertainment now have access to such things. The Internet provides us with ‘new modes of cultural exchange’ and removes ‘the costly barriers’ surrounding much content. (Alang, 2010)
Secondly, online piracy provides means to the transfer of cultural productions from one country to the rest of the world. It enables people to share their creative content with virtually anyone with computer access. ‘Nollywood’, a term used to describe Nigerian cinema, uses piracy as means of distribution;
‘the pirate copies aren’t necessarily cheaper than the legitimate copies – often, they sell at a similar price and they’re chosen simply because they are the only copies available.’ (Zuckerman, 2010)
Because pirate copies appear to be more easily accessible, distribution would be much more difficult without piracy of such movies. This proves that Medosch is not entirely correct about piracy being ‘an entirely commercially motivated activity’. (Medosch, 2008 pp81)
Thirdly, piracy (physical or online distribution) reflects a globalised world. It can be seen to aid globalisation processes by creating online communities, consisting of people from countries across the globe. What the Internet lets us see,
‘…is that when the exchange of ideas, rather than the exchange of dollars, is the controlling principle, communities will form around the best and most challenging of what culture has to offer’. (Alang, 2010)
It is short-sighted to think that websites are primarily ‘dens of theft’. (Alang, 2010) Piracy allows us to connect with people all over the globe, and come together to discuss and share common interests.
Piracy is a ‘culturally important’ function which enables the sharing of not only music and movies, but also knowledge, that can transcend national borders. Piracy allows people to experience things they may never have had access to. I see it as a positive thing. I think piracy is becoming less and less of a ‘commercially motivated’ enterprise and more about accessibility, regardless of whether you live in a third world country, or a highly developed country.
Alang, Navneet (2010) “Pirates of high culture: there’s more to online piracy than Beyonce singles and porn.” This Magazine Mar-Apr: 42
Medosch, Armin (2008) “Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Produtction”, in Depthforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies, London: Deptforth TV, pp. 73-97
Zuckerman, Ethan (2010) “Nollywood: is better distribution the remedy for piracy?”,
http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2010/10/06/nollywood-is-better-distribution-the-remedy-for-piracy/ June 6, [date accessed May 27, 2011]