ALL414ALL is a project investigating the potential of piracy as activism. Starting off with involvement in an exhibition at Göteborgs Sjöfartsmuseet in March of 2017 the project will be looking at how piracy and freedom of speech have been intrinsically linked over the centuries and try to test out some ways piracy could be activistic.
Ironically the video to be shown at the show in Göteborg, Sweden, was censored by the museum due to concerns around copyright infringement. We accept that censorship on the basis of not wanting to cause harm to the institution of Göteborgs Sjöfartsmuseet through our actions, actions Bronze Dog takes full responsibility for. However considering the content of the video; trying to start drawing a narrative line between the freedoms and liberties available onboard a pirate vessel in the Golden Age of Piracy (1650-1730) and the role of piracy in the contemporary conversation around freedom of speech, and information, online, it is quite funny.
This web resource will help keep track of the progress of the project in whatever forms that may take.
Current video for Göteborgs Sjöfartsmuseet.
Screenshots from original, censored video.
Entry||~~~ 15.42 Saturday 13th May 2017
So having not heard anything at all from Disney since sending the application in we thought we would get in touch and see if they actually have our application. They have no record...
No idea what happened there, they aren't sure either so we have submitted a new request, got a confirmation email this time which is a better sign too. So the wait goes on. In the meantime though there are additions up coming for this resource and a couple of new avenues about to be explored...
Entry||~~~ 16.31 Monday 10th April 2017
Well the entry is into Disney, it's just a case of wait and see now. We are super interested to find out how much they would charge for the rights.
In the meantime we got hold of Kultur i Väst to see if they could offer any help. Unfortunately they don't see anyway around it either without permission from Disney.
All of this circles around intellectual property and copyright of that. It's a new irony that the copyright laws have been consistently changed by Disney (take a look at the videos to the right by truTV and Prof. Eric Faden). The main gist is this:
Copyright has been around since the invention of the Printing Press by way of the Licensing of the Press Act 1662 (long title "An Act for preventing the frequent Abuses in printing seditious treasonable and unlicensed Books and Pamphlets and for regulating of Printing and Printing Presses.")* in England, a law which drew up a list of licensed books for print. This list was distributed to stationers across England and led to the first forms of media piracy in a legal sense. This was mirrored by legislation in a number of other European states at the time.
In terms of the first instance of a law expressly about copyright and the duration of time something stayed within exclusive control of a publisher, the Statute of Anne in 1710 was instituted to break up the publishing monopoly in early 18th century Britain. This is also the first time the individual rights of the artist are alluded to:
"Whereas Printers, Booksellers, and other Persons, have of late frequently taken the Liberty of Printing... Books, and other Writings, without the Consent of the Authors... to their very great Detriment, and too often to the Ruin of them and their Families:"**
This is backed up in 1787 in the United States Constitution's Copyright Clause, the first explicit mention of the direct rights of a creator:
"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."***
The intention of this was to encourage the production of more works through allowance of time by financial profit. After this period it would enter the Public Domain, ie. usable by anyone. This has been the backbone of most extensions of copyright laws with the period of copyright edging up from 14 years to lifetime and longer. Which brings us to Disney.
In 1998, Mickey Mouse was about to enter the Public Domain, this was something that Disney could not allow so through exertion of some financial muscle and a healthy amount of lobbying they got the period of copyright extended by decades meaning that nothing has entered the Public Domain for years in a legal form****.
As you can imagine this doesn't only impact on works of film, everything from academic papers to books of philosophy to music are caught in stasis. This means that all that knowledge is locked up creating a situation where only the privileged can access it. Only the few can build upon it. Unless you pirate it that is, which is where media piracy starts to become an effective activistic tool.
For example, without media piracy we wouldn't have head the Lutheran tracts since it was a banned pretty much everywhere in Europe. Without Luther we wouldn't have had the reformation, without which we wouldn't have had the Enlightenment and so on and so on. New ideas are built on old ones, without access to the old development is stunted, or maybe more accurately controlled. Freedoms are controlled. Accesses are controlled. Society is controlled, ultimately by big corporations…
* - Licensing of the Press Act 1662, Charles II of England, 1662
** - Statute of Anne, Annæ Reginæ, 1710
*** - United States Constitution, Washington et al., 1787
**** - Adam Ruins Everything - How Mickey Mouse Destroyed the Public Domain, truTV, 2015
Entry||~~~ 21.07 Friday 7th April 2017
So, having finally got through to Disney Nordic and speaking to them on the phone it's bad news. Disney Nordic themselves are not able to give the go ahead. Instead we have to fill in a form which goes into a waiting list in the USA. The form details my request and the intended usage and distribution. This process could take up to 8 weeks.
Disney Nordic were helpful in telling us that the likelihood of a yes from the US is incredibly slim, with a flat out no or a request for payment of a large fee for intellectual property rights for Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. We are going to take the time to complete the form anyway and see what happens though, even though there is no chance of being able to use it in the show at Sjöfartsmuseet.
The explanation given for the reluctance of Disney to allow fair use of their intellectual properties was put down to the fact that if they allowed such projects to go ahead they would be out of business in no time. Whilst we understand where they are coming from, we also struggle to see how a company the size of Disney, with revenue of $55.632 billion (2016 ) *, would be affected by an artwork shown in a museum in Sweden for no commercial reason, with no commercial value and no commercial gain to Bronze Dog. We struggle to see how this video will lead to the closure of its 6 resorts worldwide or its chain of retail outlets; but who knows maybe we would open the floodgates. With a bit of luck Disney will see this when they look at the application we send them and allow us to use the footage. Fingers crossed.
On a more positive note this has meant we can move forward, with a new version, sans PotC, going into the museum in the next few days.
Entry||~~~ 17.35 Sunday 2nd April 2017
First corespondance with Disney help in London. I must say they have been very quick in replyinghaving mailed thm last night they replied this afternoon, though not very helpfully...
Entry||~~~ 15.37 Wednesday 29th March 2017
The irony of this situation is not lost on us. With the project revolving around piracy as activism, freedom of speech and the impact of anti-piracy laws regarding online piracy on rights and freedoms within the digital realm, it is all pretty funny. Bronze Dog sees this as an opportunity to extend the process of this work.
We are currently awaiting a call-back from the Walt Disney offices in Stockholm regarding the usage of a part of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl to try and gain permission to use it. This is due to the museum being unable to legally confirm the work as an "artwork" without the OK from Walt Disney PLC. Bronze Dog is totally understanding of this situation and finds it amusing that a work about censorship due to piracy and digital sharing be censored and prevented from being shared with the public.
Watch this space.
image courtesy of www.pilvitakala.com
many thanks too:
TED, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, Jas A, Pilvi Takala, Brent Davidson, David Pakman Show, I Am Incorrigible, DanVanDam, Al Jazeera English, PBS NewsHour, Maisdiziqui, Gaming Proness, h1bena5, EazyWWEfan, seattle4truth, Documentary Lab, SoulCarrier77, truTV, Film i Väst, Fox Home Entertainment UK & Walt Disney PLC