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<nettime> Call for support: Pirates of the Amazon, taken down by Amazon.
Florian Cramer on Fri, 5 Dec 2008 04:27:38 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Call for support: Pirates of the Amazon, taken down by Amazon.com


Many Nettimers might already have read about
www.pirates-of-the-amazon.com. The website provided a Firefox add-on
that changed the experience of browsing Amazon.com by putting a slick
"Download 4 Free" button on top of every product - whether a CD, DVD or
book - also listed as a bittorrent on The Pirate Bay. Clicking the
button on the Amazon.com product page for, say, Madonna's latest album
would yield a background search on The Pirate Bay and start up a
bittorrent client to download a corresponding torrent.

After being published this Monday, the project made headline news on
digg.com
<http://digg.com/tech_news/Shop_Amazon_For_Free_w_Firefox_Add_on_Linking_to_Pirate_Bay>
and has been covered among others by CNET
<http://www.download.com/8301-2007_4-10112541-12.html>, the Washington
Post
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/04/AR2008120401751.html>
and currently more than 1000 blog entries worldwide. 

Via its provider, the project received a take down request by the
lawyers of Amazon.com yesterday. In our point of view, the legal grounds
for that are contestable since the add-on itself did not download
anything. It only provided a user interface link between the web sites
Amazon.com and thepiratebay.org. Nevertheless, the creators complied to
the request, taking both the add-on and original web site offline.

What is perhaps more disturbing however, are the openly hostile and
aggressive Internet user comments in blogs and on digg.com. Unlike in a
comparable situation only a couple of years ago, the majority of
commentators failed to see the highly parodistic and artistic nature of
"Pirates of the Amazon".  The project was created by two students at the
Media Design M.A. department of the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam, one
of them being a student in the course, the other being an exchange
student from the New Media programme of Merz Akademie Stuttgart. The
work was part of a regular trimester project. We - jaromil, the project
tutor, and Florian Cramer, the head of the course - were the academic
supervisors of this work. We supported and encouraged it from its early
beginnings.  What's more, we're proud to have such students and such
interesting work coming out of our teaching.

Apart from its humorous value and cleverness, the project is interesting 
on many levels and layers: For example, not just as a funny artistic
hack of Amazon.com and The Pirate Bay, but also as a critique of
mainstream media consumer culture creating the great "content" overlap
between the two sites. We clearly see this project as a practical media
experiment and artistic design investigation into the status of media
creation, distribution and consumption on the Internet. 

With the take down notice from Amazon.com, our students have been scared
away from pursuing their art, research and learning in our institute. We
do not want a culture in which students have to preemptively censor
their study because their work confronts culture with controversial and
challenging issues. 

We would like to gather statements in support of the "Pirates of the
Amazon". The students are turning their web sites into a documentation 
of their project and the reactions it triggered. If you would like to
support them and contribute a short statement, please get in touch with
us.

Florian Cramer & jaromil


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