It should come as no surprise that many of the artists and new media practitioners regularly featured on this site rely on illegal file sharing for the content and tools used to make their work. Last week the four operators of the major torrent tracking site, The Pirate Bay, were brought up on criminal charges by the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), representing a group of intellectual copyright holders, and were sentenced by the Swedish court to a year in prison and a $3.5 million fine after a much publicized trial. In the wake of these trials, a mysterious cyber activist and defender of internet neutrality launched The Pirate Google, a website that limits Google searches to the previously indexed torrent files. It's an act that throws more smoke in the face of the politically and economically biased charges, as Google's indexing system has long allowed access to knowingly copyrighted material, while Google-owned YouTube hosts it directly.
In an email, the creator of the site told us that while Google has attempted to block inbound searches from The Pirate Google, he or she did not feel it would be possible for the IFPI or the corporate giant to take legal action, as they don't advertise and don't profit from the site. Its purpose is simply to raise issues of complicity and complexity in hosting and defining illegal materials. In this sense, the site is as much collaborative art piece as technological utility, as it seeks to undermine the advancement of institutional leaders, be it established museum, gallery, or artist, in favor of the disenfranchised. And who doesn’t love a good Damn The Man collaboration now and then? Masked defender, we salute you.
Ninth International Conference on the Arts in Society - Rome, Italy