This month I’ve been chipping away at a few books which touch on different aspects of copyright politics. The only one which I have finished is Cory Doctor’s latest offering, Pirate Cinema. Back in 2002 I got my hands on a couple of Cory’s books before they were commercially released, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and Eastern Standard Tribe. I enjoyed both of these tales from the near future but thereafter encountered him principally as an articulate advocate for the EFF and neglected his fiction work. But I could not ignore his Pirate Cinema, especially as it bears the same name of a real-life network dedicated to the public screening of films acquired via p2p networks, a meme launched in Berlin by friends of mine. So I was curious.
Cory’s fiction is pitched at ‘young adults’, a group whom has has apparently addressed with some success in works such as Little Brother, and this book’s protagonist is a seventeen year old from the north of England with a penchant for remixing video materials of his favourite actor, a practice which requires him to download copious numbers of films from the net. In the new climate of repressive copyright policy this results in his family’s internet connection being terminated. And the effects of the disconnection are not felt only by our hero, but also his family: his father relies upon the net for temporary jobs, his sister needs it for her schoolwork. Ashamed at the disaster he has brought upon them, he flees the nest, and the north, for London. Arrived in the city he is befriended by a wily elder, who introduces him into a low-cost, high-quality existence lived off the fat of the metropolitan land.
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