The Junk Ships on Alibaba

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Around the corner from stacks of baby shoes, counterfeit Gucci wallets, and spangled iPhone cases, I got burned copies of Jean Cocteau's Orpheus trilogy at an outdoor market in Mexico City.

A Sunday afternoon in Roma Norte, I was drinking coffee with new friends. The city was new to me and I had only arrived late the night before. We jumped in a cab and directed the driver to a market a little way outside the center of town.

Miguel said he was going to pick up a copy of Pigsty there. I was confused at first, assuming it had to be something other than the 1969 Italian film, but indeed that was the one he meant. Seemed an implausible feat to find a physical copy of any Passolini movie, let alone a more obscure selection, anywhere without paying for shipping and waiting at least a week. But I didn't say anything then.

"He's not going to find the Passolini film here," Manuel said, as we were wandering through Tepito's labyrinth of tents. It was mostly pirated goods: branded tennis shoes, video games, and handbags; but with some intention to the ordering of the inventory. Suppliers tended to specialize in certain items, one might carry only knock-offs of a single particular designer label, another sold only anime DVDs. Tepito sometimes functions as a wholesaler for vendors who operate smaller streetside sales. We walked through the section that was largely physical media for sale— Blue-ray, DVD, and CDs with covers varying from identical to the original to very handmade-looking inkjet prints. I was told that sometimes you could see vendors burning these disks in the back of the tents.

One of the tents had a sign out front, "Cine de Arte." Inside a dozen densely packed shelves included classic art house fare like 400 Blows, Breathless, Paris Texas, and L'eclisse. Each with a cover made of ordinary printer paper inside a flimsy plastic sleeve...

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Distorted Scans in Google Books

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"Could there be a fitter representation of copyright's contemporary plight than the fingers of a Google technician obscuring Kant's defense of writer's rights? An author's consent, Kant cautions in a footnote, 'can by no means be presumed because he has already given it exclusively to another', yet Google is struggling to effect exactly this sort of transfer of consent today, as it attempts to win approval for a legal settlement in the United States that will allow it to republish works whose copyright owners have not come forward. I couldn't have read Kant's essay so easily without the Google technician's labour - in fact, without Google, I might not have got around to reading it at all - but her fingers were nonetheless in the way. The internet's attitude toward Kant's words is ambiguous, combining respect, appropriation, liberation and accidental vandalism," Caleb Crain once wrote, having discovered a spectral-seeming hand, while conducting research for his review of Adrian Johns's Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates. (The page has been rescanned, but the image is still on Nicholas Carr's blog.)

Wohlgemeynte Gedanken über den Dannemarks-Gesundbrunnen by Johan Gottschalk Wallerius is scarcely recognizable as a book with hundreds of distorted pages. (via Waxy.)

 

 

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