felix's blog

Swedish Left Party Wants to Legalize Piracy

It really seems that it now becomes politically acceptable, at least in Europe, to see p2p file sharing not only as socially acceptable (in order to protect privacy and freedom of speech) but even as beneficial.

This Sunday, the Swedish Left Party voted in favor of a motion calling for the legalization of sharing copyrighted files for personal use. The party, which currently holds 22 seats in the Swedish parliament, sees piracy as something positive, much like public libraries.

At the party’s congress this weekend, party members had to vote on a motion that would legalize the uploading and downloading of copyrighted material for personal use, as long as it is not for commercial purposes.

Source: torrentfreak

30 Years of Tactical Media (book chapter)

30 Years of Tactical Media
Felix Stalder

Tactical media as a practice has a long history and, it seems save to predict, an even longer future. Yet its existence as a distinct concept around which something of a social movement, or more precisely, a self-aware network of people and projects would coalesce has been relatively short lived, largely confined to the internet's first decade as a mass medium (1995-2005). During that time Geert Lovink and David Garcia, two Dutch media activists/theorists at the heart of this network, defined Tactical Media, as

what happens when the cheap 'do it yourself' media, made possible by the revolution in consumer electronics and expanded forms of distribution (from public access cable to the internet) are exploited by groups and individuals who feel aggrieved by or excluded from the wider culture. Tactical media do not just report events, as they are never impartial they always participate and it is this that more than anything separates them from mainstream media.2

Like so many other things that are now common in our informational lives, the roots of tactical media lie in the cultural innovations of radical social movements that sprang up in the late 1960s. Not only did they begin to exploit technological changes enabling to self-produce media but they created entirely new ideas of what the media could be: not just conduits for more or less sophisticated state propaganda (as in Althusser's famous analysis of the “ideological state apparatuses”3) or as a source of “objective” information provided by a professional (enlightened) elite. Rather, they reconceptualized the media as means of subjective expression, by people and for people who are not represented by the mainstream.

Tech Talk: Linus Torvalds on git

Tech Talk: Linus Torvalds on git

Torrents of Desire and the Shape of the Information Landscape (book chapter)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.

We are in the midst an uneven shift from an information environment characterized by scarcity of cultural goods to one characterized by their abundance. Until very recently, even privileged people had access to a relatively limited number of news sources, books, audio recordings, films and other forms of informational goods. This was partly due to the fact that the means of mass communication were expensive, cumbersome and thus relatively centralized. In this configuration, most people were relegated to the role of consumers, or, if they lacked purchasing power, not even that. This is changing. The Internet is giving ever greater numbers of people access to efficient means of mass communication and p2p protocols such as Bittorrent are making the distribution of material highly efficient. For some reason to be further examined, more and more material is becoming freely available within this new information environment. As an effect, the current structure of the culture industries, in Adorno's sense, is being undermined, and with it, deeply-entrenched notions of intellectual property. This is happening despite well-orchestrated campaigns by major industries to prevent this shift. The campaigns include measures raging from the seemingly endless expansion of intellectual property regulations across the globe, to new technologies aimed at maintaining informational scarcity (digital rights management (DRM) systems), to mass persecution of average citizens who engage in standard practices on p2p networks.

On the Differences between Open Source and Open Culture (book chapter)

How would culture be created if artists were not locked into romantic notions of individual authorship and the associated drive to control the results of their labour was not enforced through ever expanding copyrights? What if cultural production was organized via principles of free access, collaborative creation and open adaptability of works? As such, the practices of a collective and transformative culture are not entirely new. They were characteristic for (oral) folk cultures prior to their transformation into mass culture by the respective industries during the twentieth century, and as counter-currents – the numerous avant-garde movements (dada, situationism, mail art, neoism, plagiarism, plunderphonics, etc.) which re-invented, radicalized and technologically up-graded various aspects of those. Yet, over the last decade, these issues – of open and collaborative practices – have taken on an entirely new sense of urgency. Generally, the ease with which digital information can be globally distributed and manipulated by a very large number of people makes free distribution and free adaptation technically possible and a matter of everyday practice. Everyone with a computer already uses, in one way or the other, the copy & paste function built into all editors. This is what computers are about: copying, manipulating and storing information. With access to the internet, people are able to sample a wide range of sources and make their own works available to potentially large audiences.

Neue Formen der Öffentlichkeit und kulturellen Innovation zwischen Copyleft, Creative Commons und Public Domain. (Buchkapitel)

In: Hoffmann, Jeanette (Hg.). Wissen und Eigentum. Geschichte, Recht und Ökonomie stoffloser Güter. Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, Bonn. 2006


In den letzten 10 Jahren ist eine neue, weltweite Bewegung entstanden, die grundsätzlich neue Modelle der Produktion von und des Zugangs zu digitalen Gütern nicht nur fordert, sondern auch bereits im grossen Stil praktiziert. Wissenschaftler, Autorinnen, Künstler, Musikerinnen, Programmieren und andere 'immaterielle Produzentinnen' nutzen dabei das bestehende Urheberrecht in einer neuen Art und Weise. Das Urheberrecht gewährt ja einem Autor geistiger Werke (im Bereich der Literatur, Kunst, Wissenschaft, Design, Computerprogammierung, etc) exklusive Verfügungsrechte über seine Schöpfungen, die nur durch eng definierte Schranken eingegrenzt werden. Diese Rechte entstehen automatisch mit der Kreation des Werkes, ohne dass es registriert oder anderweitig gekennzeichnet werden muss. Der Autor kann (fast) frei bestimmen, wer, wann, wie und unter welchen Umständen sein Werk nutzen kann (siehe Beiträge von Thomas Hoeren und Till Kreutzer in diesem Band). Die neue Nutzung dieser Rechte ziehlt darauf ab, den Zugang zu den Werken zu vereinfachen, in dem etwa das freie Kopieren erlaubt wird, und Möglichkeiten der Öffentlichkeit zu erweitern, mit diesen Werken kreativ umzugehen.

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