Recommended Reading: Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

Recommended Reading: Pirate Cinema by Cory DoctorowPirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow
Published by Tom Doherty on October 2nd 2012
Pages: 384

Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In near-future Britain, this is more illegal than ever. The punishment for being caught three times is to cut off your entire household from the internet for a year - no work, school, health or money benefits.

Trent thinks he is too clever for that to happen, but it does, and nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where slowly he learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. He joins artists and activists fighting a new bill that will jail too many, especially minors, at one stroke. Jem introduces him to the Jammie Dodgers, beautiful brilliant "26" to love and cemetery parties.

Things look bad. Parliament is in power of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven’t entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people’s minds ...

Last Wednesday the European Parliament had an important vote on the future of copyright. Some say it’s a good thing, most others (including me) don’t think that this proposal is a step in the right direction in copyright enforcement. Cory Doctorow explained the repercussions in this Twitter thread:

Another vote for Article 11 and Article 13, as the proposals are called, will go for another round next year. We have to fight this, as content creators, as writers, as readers. Article 11 is a link tax, while Article 13 is an upload filter. This last one is the more problematic one, in my opinion.

The filters named in Article 13 will scan all content for copyrighted material. If the system recognises something as plagiarism, it won’t get through the filter. And as a copyright holder, you’ll have to submit every single piece to a database.

This filter is like the content ID system on Youtube. It’s (as they say) for the large internet corporations to keep user-generated content from infringing copyright. If you follow some people on Youtube who try to make a living creating videos, you’ll probably have heard stories that videos have been claimed by the Content ID filter. That means that any money made on those videos will not go to the video’s creator, but to the one who holds the copyright. And many of these claims aren’t legit. This will happen more often when Article 13 is accepted. And not just on videos. This is also the case for photographs and text.

Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema explores a dystopian London where media conglomerates hold power over the government. This is where our future is heading if we allow articles like this to be accepted. I agree that copyright has to enforced and infringement should be discouraged, but there are better ways than these filters.

I really liked Pirate Cinema and it saddens me that its topic has become current. If any of this, copyright and politics, interest you, I highly suggest reading this and other books by Doctorow. Read more about the book and where to get it here.

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