Global ecosystems – piracy and inequality

Another plenary session that I covered in the iCommons blog at the Dubrovnik iCommons Summit was a session on Global Ecosystems, in which the presentations by Bodo Balacz (Budapest University of Technology and Economics) and Lawrence
Liang
(Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore) stood out both for their provocative content – the subject was ‘piracy’ – and for the virtuosity of their arguments.What is particularly challenging in their arguments is the presentation of a world view that is not grounded in the presuppositions that underlie an often aggressive Western view of the rights and wrongs of copyright. This was my reflection on what they said, from an African perspective:

A panel that contains both Bodo Balazs and Lawrence Liang was bound to be lively. They did not disappoint in the closing plenary of the iCommons. Both had a similar message – that the ‘pirates’ are harbingers of future trends in the face of market inefficiencies and failures. Balazs made a compelling case in a historical survey of repeated resistance to monopolistic tendencies in in the development trajectory of the copyright regime The pattern that appears in his analysis is one of nodes of resistance at stages at which there were fundamental shifts in the economic, social and technological framework of how culture is produced. What emerged strongly from Bodo’s history of ‘pirate’ resistance was the ethical base of these acts of resistance, which explicitly aimed to remedy injustices and imbalances, rather than targeting financial gain.

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