Pirate Care, a syllabus
October 1, 2020 9:40 AM   Subscribe

We live in a world where captains get arrested for saving people’s lives on the sea; where a person downloading scientific articles faces 35 years in jail; where people risk charges for bringing contraceptives to those who otherwise couldn’t get them. Folks are getting in trouble for giving food to the poor, medicine to the sick, water to the thirsty, shelter to the homeless. And yet our heroines care and disobey. They are pirates.
posted by jshttnbm (9 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
These seems like a very detailed academic project! That said, my gut reactions are a) that it loads extremely slowly because of all kinds of crazy fonts, and b) that when I hear about pirates I still think of the Somali pirates (who haven’t been active for 3 years, according to Wikipedia) so man, I wish they hadn't led with anything about boats).

I also kind of wish the intro had a better “why” to it. Nothing really needs a reason on the internet, but this seems like a detailed solution and a lot of ongoing work on the notion of piracy that’s happening in response to something. What is that something? Why this work? Do we just want detailed arguments for making pirates cool?
posted by Going To Maine at 9:54 AM on October 1, 2020

I don't think it's the fonts, it's just hosted somewhere slow. Totally here for the shadow libraries discussion "(It is worth noting that shadow libraries themselves are a pirate care practice: in contravention of the copyright regulation, they are assisting readers across a highly unequal world of education and research.)"
posted by jessamyn at 10:35 AM on October 1, 2020 [5 favorites]

Just speculating but I think some of the "why" your mention is the context of the various Pirate Party political groups across Europe, though I feel like they were more in the news 5ish years ago? Also the ongoing efforts to help refugees crossing the Mediterranean which is a whole political mess. (See previously, previouslier)
posted by Wretch729 at 10:35 AM on October 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

This is thoughtful, important stuff. Thank you for posting, jshttnbm!
posted by Bella Donna at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2020

Going to Maine, I think the point is to track how much benevolent behavior is illegal. Also, some people like the idea of being outlaws but don't want to hurt people.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 10:54 AM on October 1, 2020 [11 favorites]

In my country, India, there are tens of thousands of NGOs and activists providing essential services, often in "pirate" form. During the pandemic, as during any other emergency, they were a crucial lifeline: the government provided no relief of any kind to the millions of rural migrants traveling from cities to villages by foot and bicycle during the lockdown (which was announced 4 hours before it commenced).

The extreme right-wing government has launched a war on these activists. They see these people as a threat for a couple of reasons - their actions contradict the advertised image of India as an economically self-sufficient nation. Second and most important - they are typically liberals who bring attention to the plight of the low caste, adivasis (tribes) and religious minorities. The way to get them in jail is always the same: the cops say that they are connected to communist rebel outfits and slap terror charges on them. No evidence ever emerges, and many will eventually be acquited, but terror charges are non-bailable, so they stay in jail for years while prosecution delays trial. At the rate things are going, by the time that happens, the courts will be filled with government stooges.

Currently in jail are dozens of protesters who opposed the CAA/NRC bills (laws requiring Indian Muslims to prove their citizenship or be regarded stateless). Umar Khalid's arrest prompted Noam Chomsky, Salman Rushdie and others to appeal to the government, but he remains in jail. Prominent artists and lawyers are also behind bars, such as Sudha Bharadwaj, one of the most prolific lawyer-activists for the working class in Indian history. Threatened with charges is filmmaker Rahul Roy, whose food drive provided 2 million meals during the lockdown to stranded workers. And a few days ago, Amnesty International announced its withdrawal from India due to a government "witch-hunt".

Sorry if I'm ranting, just wanted to point something out that isn't getting a lot of Western press.
posted by kolendra at 11:30 AM on October 1, 2020 [37 favorites]

I'm a pirate. I downloaded MP3s when that was a thing. Then when it became attractive to do so, I used ad supported network such as Spotify, Soundcloud and Youtube. Then someone decided they weren't making enough money, like for some reason on Soundcloud Kings of Crimson, an early 1970s progressive rock band that's 50 years old requires a premium subscription to listen to them. I've seen this before, first ads, the subscription then subscription plus ads then stratification of media cross vendors so that I have to pay for all of it and I'm back to downloading MP3s from Usenet. Which by the way, is way harder now that I can't drag and drop.

So somehow we found a good medium where people were willing to listen to 30 second plus ads, willing to pay and now we're back to where we were 20 years ago. I'm actually using older technology then searching for "apache + mp3 + eminem" which was a great way to find mp3s. Why? The experience with Soundcloud/Spotify/Youtube is better. But companies got greedy, then other companies said there was nothing they could do it about it and pointed at other companies and now we're back to passing the threshold where the time it takes to setup a VM, download MP3s and manually curate my library is easier. Now this has come full circle I'm at this point ready to say, lets adopt pirate standards like they do for browsers. Need thumbnails for scrubbing? Sure let me carry it over from Plex to Jellify. or whatever media engine it is. Keep my media independent. It really is trivial to recreate the infrastructure for a Soundcloud or a Netflix when you don't have to worry about tracking or scaling. Some recommendation models might not work, sure, but I'm guessing that's not a big deal.

I'm all for paying artists but often then there's already avenues where that's available! Look at Patreon! Sure those can be pirated too, but realistically what we're doing is enriching companies for sitting on copyrights. Whether they be research institutions for scientific papers, movies, etc.

Really a lot of the things listed are illegal because things have some sort of made up value. Like artificially placing licenses on seeds, or having a TOS for medicine. I'm pretty sure if our legal system existed 3,000 years ago we'd be paying a tanning fee to shorts companies because we're utilizing the sun in ways only the makers of shorts envisioned. And every 70 years they'd tweak shorts to have velcro or a zipper so it was New Shorts to extend the copyright.

I would go against the grain and say that pirates are effective when they're self-centered instead of altruistic. Using a poorly contrived example, if piracy allows people to make amphetamine using simple ingredients from cold medicine then we're treating ADHD at a much lower cost than Adderall or Vyvanse. If some people use it to get high ok whatever, but kids who can't afford the $100 monthly trip the doctor plus $150 for Vyvanse also get lost cost treatment we at least having people receiving medicine.
posted by geoff. at 12:34 PM on October 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

this seems like a detailed solution and a lot of ongoing work on the notion of piracy that’s happening in response to something. What is that something? Why this work? Do we just want detailed arguments for making pirates cool?

Judging from the very first sentence, along with some of the other things they reference like border security and criminalization of solidarity, I'm pretty sure it's primarily inspired by, and framed this way, as a response to things like the crew of the Iuventa facing up to 20 years in prison for saving refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean. (Of course, it is also, per international maritime law, illegal not to save them.) They then broadened the idea to be more widely applicable, but the core of the idea is that if saving refugees is illegal, then the Iuventa (or a ship like it) is literally a pirate ship on a humanitarian mission.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:09 PM on October 1, 2020 [9 favorites]

Why this work?
To paraphrase H.L. Menken, sometimes when a person looks around at the people and institutions running our civilization into the ground, a fair solution seems to be to light out for the Republic of Pirates, join a crew, raise the Jolly Roger, and set sail.

Parrots and peg legs optional.
posted by wuwei at 8:48 PM on October 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

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