Piracy, Australia says…yes?

 B) Medosch argues that: “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions” (Reader, page 318).

Perhaps one of the most pressing issues facing the entertainment industry today, piracy is becoming an increasingly common entity. With the expansion of the internet, we are able to access songs, movies, television shows, all for free. The act of pirating is to copy and distribute without the express permission of the original author, and has long been stamped as morally dubious, and illegal. For years, there have been attempts to stop piracy. An example of this is this piracy ad which we are all too familiar with.

However, in Armin Medosch’s article ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, piracy and the real currency of cultural production’ he argues that in fact piracy fulfills ‘culturally important functions’. This causes us to reflect on piracy in an entirely different light. Medosch asserts that by sharing files we are attempting to bridge the digital divide, giving people access to cultural goods and information which they may not have been able to experience via any other means. He argues that having access to a wide range of cultural information is beneficial to society as a whole, and the participatory culture of society. Whilst there are a plethora of social and economic concerns surrounding piracy, Medosch looks at it from the perspective of cultural enrichment, particularly in relation to Third World Countries. There has, and probably always will be a significant divide between Western Culture and non-Western counterparts, and digitalism is no exception. However, the act of file sharing, as Medosch sees it, is an opportunity for this divide to be lessened. Piracy can infact play a socially significant role; if the amount of files available to share are increasingly free-flowing, then doesn’t this also widen the opportunity for global connection? While of course it doesn’t directly facilitate such understanding, however it atleast provides ample opportunity. Why should technological inequality also lead to social and cultural inequality by rigid authorisation.

In this sense, piracy does indeed have great potential to fulfil culturally important functions.


Medosch, Armin (2008) “Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production,” Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies. London: Deptforth TV, pp. 73-97.

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