Project 3 * The Piracy Project

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⟶  see chapter 05*Reflection, theorization of projects: The Piracy Project

The Piracy Project (PP) is the third of the five projects that I submit for this PhD. Again, what follows is a quick overview. It lists the elements and steps – including short factual descriptions – that Andrea Francke and I have taken during the five years we were actively engaged in the project. A detailed reflection on the ways the PP explored enclosures in knowledge practices is provided in chapter 05*Reflection and theorization of projects. The pink text in the right-hand column is Andrea's voice, who in this form, added her perspective and reflections on the project. This comment feature – specifically coded for this kappa by Varia, Rotterdam – allows for those who have equal stakes in the projects to be present, and comment. This is an ongoing thread throughout this Wiki. I was keen to have the form of the writing mirror the poli-vocality that characterized the practice.

Starting point and context: Byam Shaw School of Art Library closure

Byam Shaw Reading Room Co-op. Poster designed by Åbäke, London 2010.


The Piracy Project started at Byam Shaw School of Art as a response to restrictive university policies: in 2010, the university management announced its plan to close the Byam Shaw School of Art library due to a merger with Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.Speechbubble.png

I met Eva just after I finished my MA. I wanted to interview AND Publishing for my MA essay because I was interested in the way they thought about art, publishing and distribution. When we met, Eva invited me to hand in a proposal for a one-month residency at the Byam Shaw Library. I had just read an essay from Daniel Alarcon in Granta magazine about the practice of book piracy in Peru. I’m Peruvian but I moved to Brazil with my family in 1989 at a similar age and during the same period in which Alarcon moved to the US. This has weirdly meant that Alarcon and I seem to have very similar memories and share a fascination with ‘Peruvianness’ that places us inside and outside the culture. Or gives us a shared perspective from a similar position in time.

I grew up reading pirated copies of books bought in my coming-back-home holidays. The sellers of pirated books in traffic light stops seemed very familiar but also very foreign since pirated books were not common in Brazil. When I read Alarcon’s description of those modified books it felt very personal: What had I been reading? Who had I been reading? I told Eva, I’m going to Peru next week to visit my family and maybe there is something there? Maybe I can propose something related to the modified pirated books? Eva was really excited about the potential of those books and told me to come back to see her after my trip. I spend so much time in pirated book markets and comparing books page by page. And then I found it.

There is also how that was an important time in terms of student activism. A moment in which the commodification of university education had accelerated and there was a feeling that staff and students could imagine different ways to think about the institutions and art education as well as protest. In a sense, the PP happened in the same time frame of Arts Against Cuts, the Camberwell occupation and all the alternative MAs that followed. The PP was connected with the occupation of the library in terms of how property and ownership are constructed in the institution. Who is the library for? Who owns a library? What are the power processes involved in constructing that space as well as produced by it?

Annotated by AF

Students were advised to visit the library on the main campus in the city center. In a joint effort, students and staff – supported by the acting principal – turned Byam Shaw's art college library into a self-organized and self-governed library that remained public, and intellectually and socially generative. There was not a clear-cut question that triggered TPP at this point. It was rather a political situation at the art school and the desire to organize against it – as well as Andrea Francke's parallel and puzzling discovery of specific cases of book piracy in Peru, where pirates had started to alter and amend the plot of some fiction books anonymously.

Fight the Cuts Demo London, March 2010.




Open Call for copied, modified, emulated, annotated books

⟶  see Piracy Project announcement: Art-Agenda newsletter

Piracy Project Open Call Poster circulated at educational and cultural spaces across London, 2011.

The open call Speechbubble.png



The Open Call is my biggest regret. I had a very clear image of the books I wanted to see. I wanted books that replicated the feeling of the Peruvian Piracy cases. Books that created a sense of suspicion, that confronted the reader with the removal of the authority of the author. And by hosting them in the library we would question how we use the library, interact with the canon, etc. I didn’t realise at the time that it wasn’t really ok to project those expectations onto the free labour of other people, or maybe I didn’t have the skills to sell what I thought was the concept at the core of the project. Instead, we received lots of books from all over the world, in the most generous way, but they were mostly artist’s books. Fairly enough, the books were all authored objects in themselves, with poetic descriptions and lots of care, but not what I had envisioned. And now we felt we owed all those people, that we needed to find a way to credit them, to always carry all the books to exhibitions (physically carry most of the time, in our luggage, through planes, airports and foreign cities). We still owe them and what happens with the collection is a big problem. But part of me still doesn’t understand why we made that contract and if we created a system of exploitation at what point can we let go, or how can we take it apart.

Annotated by AF

circulated locally via printed posters and flyers, on AND Publishing's website, and internationally, through an art-agenda newsletter. This also announced "The Pirate Lectures", a series of talks with artists, lawyers, journalists, writers, artists, and independent publishers exploring the topic of book piracy from different perspectives.

The international announcement stated: "Andrea Francke & AND Publishing would like to invite you to contribute to The Piracy Project, an international publishing and exhibition project exploring the philosophical, legal and practical implications of book piracy and creative modes of reproduction. With a series of talks from guest speakers, workshops, and an open call for pirated book projects to add to a Piracy Collection, we aim to develop a critical and creative platform for issues raised by acts of cultural piracy. After a period of research and production at Byam Shaw Reading Room in London, this unique collection of books will travel to international venues in 2011. The Piracy Project is not about stealing or forgery. It is about creating a platform to innovatively explore the spectrum of copying / re-editing / translating / paraphrasing / imitating / re-organizing / manipulating of already existing works. Here creativity and originality sit not in the borrowed material itself, but in the way, it is handled."

AND Publishing announcement on art agenda newsletter, 4 May 2011.
The Piracy Project info package, 2011, included: the project description, a photocopy of Jorge Louis Borges's short story 'Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote', an index card with contact details.


Searchable online catalog

⟶  see project 3* Piracy Project: Searchable Online Catalog

The Piracy Project, searchable online catalogue.

The local, national and international entries that we received (i) from students, staff and alumni at the art school, (ii) sent to us from across the world or (iii) found through our research and residencies in Peru, China, and TurkeySpeechbubble.png

My favourite books in the collection do not come from Open Calls but from our own research in Peru and China. That also makes me uncomfortable. The fact that we have a lot of authored books in the collection made by people from the US and Europe, and then a lot of (much more interesting) books from third world countries that are anonymous. I feel that we owe something to the people who replied to the Open Call, but we treat the books from third world countries as our discoveries.

Annotated by AF

are cataloged on a searchable online database. The catalog descriptions, created in collaboration with writer John Moseley, provide selected metadata as well as the strategies of reproduction, modification, and distribution used by the respective pirate. The catalog lists the title, author (= pirate), date, publisher (= pirate), format, print technique, source (the book that had been copied), and context of the activity (as far as we are aware of it).




Reading Rooms organized

Piracy Project at Byam Shaw School of Art Library, London, May–June 2011.

The first and longest-running reading room was at Byam Shaw School of Art Library (2010–12). Situated as part of a politicized community of practice during these years the major part of the books was brought together through a shared struggle to oppose government funding cuts and the planned closure of the art school library, as detailed above. After the Byam Shaw library was eventually closed, The Showroom hosted the PP in the form of a one-year residency. With Arts Council funding we organized a set of workshops and talks at the Showroom (see below). Following this, a range of cultural institutions invited the PP to install temporary reading rooms in their exhibition premises. From this point, the project started to "tour" to different venues, contexts and communities, a development that changed the way the project operated, and which I discuss in the chapter 05*Reflection, theorization of projects.

  • Piracy Project Reading Room, New York Art Book Fair, MoMA PS1, New York. September 30 – October 2, 2011.
  • Speechbubble.png
    This was the first and worst time someone got really angry and had a go at us. He came towards our table and aggressively shouted at us: You are thieves! We tried to explain we were just displaying one-offs. We didn’t sell them. We were using the books to think about other things. Most of the people that get angry seem to get angry because if they become successful one day, piracy would infringe their property rights. We met a lot of people at MoMA and had a lot of interesting conversations. When the reading rooms worked well we met experts, people to disagree with, to move forward with, to dwell in minutiae. When they worked badly we repeated the same rehearsed explanation over and over, stuck on the surface of the arguments.

    Annotated by AF

  • Piracy Project Reading Room, SALT Research Galata, Istanbul (in former bank vault). Curated by Joseph Redwood Martinez. March 6–30, 2012.
  • Piracy Project Reading Room, "The Grand Domestic Revolution Goes On", The Showroom London, September 12 – October 27, 2012.
    In collaboration with Casco Utrecht. In the organizers' words: The Grand Domestic Revolution (GDR) is an ongoing "living research" project initiated by Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht as a multi-faceted exploration of the domestic sphere to imagine new forms of living and working in common.
  • Contibution by Wages for Work, Piracy Project Reading Room, "Truth is Concrete, Steirischer Herbst", Graz. Curated by Florian Malzacher. September 21–28, 2012.
  • Speechbubble.png
    Another failed open call. Making altered printed copied books is really hard and laborious and expensive. The best part was discussing the pirated Jaime Bayly book with Gregory Sholette and Stephen Wright. Was the author of the modified pirated copy an artist? Or does art status have to be conferred by someone with authority?

    Annotated by AF

  • Piracy Project exhibition, "Books From the Ships", Oslo 10, Basel. Curated by Simone Neuenschwander and Christiane Rekade.
    November 15, 2012 – January 5, 2013.
  • Speechbubble.png
    For "Books From the Ships" in Basel, we were trying to find ways to make the collection accessible without us being present. Accessible is probably the wrong word. We were trying to find ways to make the collection interesting without us being there. How could we give people a way in?

    I recorded my side of the video with Alison Powell. I met Alison through Invisible Spaces of Parenthood and her research is super interesting. Some of her recent work includes being part of Virt-EU tools and methods to develop ethically informed technology.

    The idea was that Eva and I chose our 10 favorite books from the catalogue. Alison met me at The Showroom in London and I talked to her about them as I packed them. Then Eva received the books in Oslo and recorded her unpacking. I think the videos touched on many of the things that made the PP great but also hard to display. The most interesting things around the project were the conversations we had around the books. But the conversations that worked were at an individual level, with people that brought their expertise. Eva and I would then carry the accumulated conversations and reflect them back in the next interactions. Some of those conversations were with people that we knew or invited experts, a lot of them would be with people that we met through the project. I don’t think we ever found a way to have those conversations at a workshop level though. And that became a problem for art institutions that saw us as part of a public program that needed to justify itself through numbers.

    Annotated by AF


  • Piracy Project Reading Room, Grand Union, Birmingham.
    Curated by Cheryl Jones. December 6, 2013 – February 8, 2014.
  • Piracy Project Reading Room, Glasmoog, KHM Academy of Media Art, Cologne. Curated by Heike Ander. September 11 – October 25, 2014.
  • Piracy Project Reading Room, Kunstverein Munich. Curated by Saim Demircan. November 4–28, 2014.
  • Speechbubble.png

    We kept trying to find ways to make the process of exhibiting fruitful for us. We wanted something to happen through it. Just re-presenting or re-sharing the books was boring and not enough. We wanted to find ways to not keep rehashing the same conversations over and over so we decided to catalog the collection in different ways each time we displayed it.

    For Munich, we categorised the books according to the modes in which they were distributed. It was clear that the categorisation did impact the questions the visitors formulated to the collection. It also made clear that it was hard for us to do this in a way that allowed us to share the collection in an additive way. We didn’t find a way to enable the collection to accumulate the knowledge that emerged at every exhibition and encounter and to allow people to access it so they could catch up with us. We were still the bodies that needed to mediate the collection and that meant we were permanently stuck in the shallow aspects of the arguments. To me, we were slowly becoming the maintainers of the collection and I wasn’t comfortable with that role.

    Annotated by AF

  • Piracy Project Reading Room, in the exhibition "Resource", The Bluecoat Liverpool. Curated by Marie-Anne McQuai. July 18 – September 27, 2015.
  • Piracy Project at "Paper Struggles", Raven Row, London. A short-term exhibition and seminar conceived by Marcell Mars and Tomislav Medak. December 9–11, 2019.
  • Speechbubble.png
    It was so weird to show the collection after so long. I feel the context is completely different. Pirated books have been found on Amazon. Authorship and intellectual property have solidified themselves as having self-evident importance. Words like appropriation are now associated with imperialistic practices. The dispute about authority has long moved on to larger discussions about who owns concepts. The Piracy Project was once embedded in the digital and policy sphere and now it feels so DIY.

    Annotated by AF


Organizing discursive events

Workshop: "Pirate Lab", Byam Shaw School of Art Library, London, May–June, 2011.
The Pirate Lab was a series of open workshops and conversations on strategies and politics of unauthorized copying and reproduction.

From its very beginning, the PP was concerned with testing, discussing and disrupting conceptions of authorship and ownership, and to discuss the moral and legal boundaries of cultural piracy. Therefore, the open call for pirated books as well as our research into existing book piracy (enclosures, property relations, censorship, market monopolies, commercial interests) was a means of exploring these issues. This took place through a range of discursive eventsSpeechbubble.png

This was my favourite part of the project because to me it was the conversations around the books, how they affected the way the people involved thought about concepts like property, authorship, authenticity, consent, fairness, etc. A lot of the questions in my practice are still the same ones that emerged in those conversations: Who gets to own or produce ‘intellectual property’? How do issues of identity and economic power intersect with issues of ownership and authorship? What do we owe to the people that gave us their labour to construct ‘our’ project?

I would add as discursive events all the conversations we had around the books that were carefully and intentional planned but were not ‘public’ in the art institution/funder categorization. The categorisations by art funders were something that we struggled with through the project and it was what culminated in our taking a step back. We were invited to be part of an exhibition around copyright and we wanted to have a small programme or workshops and conversations around the books. The institution behind the commission first agreed but then said that as part of the public programme, our events and workshops would have to engage with much larger numbers of people than the ones we had proposed. Public then became a metric of numbers that fulfilled funding requirements instead of the idea of sharing in any meaningful way. This made no sense to me.

So, I would like to push back in a different direction and add here the time in which we visited a Chinese book pirate and he sent us to a different address so he could check us and approve us beforehand. The days I spent in Peru looking for modified Peruvian books and how the sellers would react as if I had broken a massive taboo. When we met a Chinese curator in Beijing and he mentioned that the piracy framework would be useful to think about the political system in China. The time I ended up at a Creative Commons meeting in Vancouver dragged by someone who saw us a panel and wanted us to raise some of our questions in that context. All the books and essays we read through those years and shared with our different interlocutors. I don’t say this to commensurate the informal but because at a personal level, the pub conversations were so much more interesting and impactful than any of these events.

Annotated by AF

such as workshops, debates, and talks that we organized, mostly in the form of temporary reading rooms with the books as exemplary cases to refer to.










  • Talk: "Pirate Books in Peru", an illustrated talk by Andrea Francke, X Marks the Bökship, London, March 25, 2011.
    Book piracy exists in many emerging countries and book pirates in Peru, for example, go beyond creating unlicensed reprints – they have even begun to interfere with the content. An entire genre of "improved" versions is emerging.
    In this illustrated talk artist, Andrea Francke presented the findings of her recent research trip to Lima, where she visited locations where pirated books are for sale, including book stores, copy shops, street markets, and traffic lights. She returned with a heavy suitcase full of reprints to London – displayed at X Marks the Bökship as part of AND's "Publisher of the Month Residency" in 2011.
    Watch podcast.
  • "Pirate Lectures", Byam Shaw School of Art, May–June, 2011.
    A series of public lectures to explore practical, conceptual, political, and ethical questions around book piracy, the concept of authorship, and politics of copyright.
  • Pirate Lecture: James Bridle, "The New Pierre Menard: Digitisation and everything after", Byam Shaw School of Art Library, May 5, 2011.
    Bio (2011): James Bridle is a publisher, writer, and artist based in London, UK. He makes things with words, books and the internet; sometimes, the results look like businesses, and sometimes they don't. He speaks at conferences worldwide and writes about what he does at booktwo.org.
    Watch podcast.
  • Pirate Lecture: Eleanor Vonne Brown, "Copy and Paste: re-reading uncreative writing", Byam Shaw School of Art Library, May 12, 2011.
    Bio (2011): Eleanor Vonne Brown set up X Marks the Bökship, a London based project space for independent publishers specialising in publishing works and projects by artists and designers, books by independent publishers, journals and discourse.
    Watch podcast.
  • Pirate Lecture: Daniel McClean, "Authorship & Originality in Art", Byam Shaw School of Art Library, May 19, 2011.
    Bio (2011): Daniel McClean is an independent curator, writer, and art-legal adviser. McClean is a solicitor at Finers Stephens Innocent LLP, where he specializes in art, media, and intellectual property law. McClean writes regularly on art legal matters. He was the editor of The Trials of Art (2007), and Dear Images: Art, Copyright and Culture (2002).
    Watch podcast.
  • Pirate Lecture: Maria Fusco, "The Incunabulum and the Plastic Bag", Byam Shaw School of Art Library, May 26, 2011.
    Bio (2011): Maria Fusco is a Belfast-born writer based in London. Her first collection of short stories The Mechanical Copula has just be published by Sternberg Press. She is the founder/editor of The Happy Hypocrite a semi-annual journal for and about experimental art writing, and Director of Art Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.
    Watch podcast.
  • Pirate Lecture: Bobbie Johnson, "The Copy Continuum: cultural perceptions of piracy, and the future of ideas",Byam Shaw School of Art Library, June 2, 2011.
    Bio (2011): Bobbie Johnson is a journalist, writer, and trouble-maker based in Brighton who specializes in covering the intersection of technology and society. He has written for a range of outlets from the BBC to Wired and acts as a European editor for technology blog GigaOM. He was previously an editor and reporter with The Guardian for nearly a decade, based in London and San Francisco.
    Watch podcast.
  • Pirate Lecture: Dr. Prodromos Tsiavos, "Of Pirates and Archivists: the boundaries of copyright limitations and exceptions and the underground archiving movement",
    Byam Shaw School of Art Library, June 9, 2011.
    Bio (2011): Prodromos Tsiavos is the legal project lead for the Creative Commons -England and Wales (CC-EW) and -Greece (CC-Greece) projects, and an associate in Avgerinos Law Firm in Athens. Among other academic engagements, he is a research officer at the London School of Economics and has worked for the European Commission and Oxford University. He advises the Greek Prime Minister's e-Government Task Force on legal issues of open data as well as the Special Secretary for Digital Planning.
    Watch podcast.
  • Open Mic: "I am a pirate – are you? ", Miss Read, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, November 25–27, 2011.
    Announcement: We are interested in the methodology of piracy and its significance for contemporary culture. The word piracy is applied to very different activities ranging from file sharing to attacking freight ships, from the production of counterfeit goods to mixing culture and – to political parties. We, The Piracy Project, are not only interested in your bit-torrent or fake goods but whether you use the works of others to build your own? Have you been pirated yourself and feel robbed of your intellectual property? Where are the limits in our engagement with culture? We would like to hear from you! Your input can be a lengthy declaration or as short as one sentence.
  • Panel discussion: "The Piracy Project at Printed Matter", Printed Matter, New York, August 17, 2012.
    With David Senior (bibliographer at MoMA), Anthony Huberman, (director of CCA Wattis Los Angeles), Joanne Mc Neil, (editor of Rhizome, NY), Sergio Munoz Sarmiento, (Art and Law, NY) in the exhibition Helpless curated by Chris Habib (July 14 – September 29, 2012).
  • Roundtable: Eva Hemmungs-Wirtén (Stockholm), "Polyglot Piracy: Translation and the Instability of Texts", The Showroom London, March 23, 2013.
    As a catalyst for conflicts over the perceived stability of the literary work; the relationship between authors and readers and the geopolitical tensions between producer and user nations, Professor Wirtén suggests that translation offers a complimentary, productive, and still largely unexplored approach into the authorship – copy-right conundrum relevant for copyright historians and print culture scholars.
  • Roundtable Workshop: Stephen Wright (Paris), "Usership", The Showroom, London, May 18, 2013.
    In this workshop with Stephen Wright we will unpack the ideologies that hide behind the word "piracy". "... I feel more comfortable with a notion of "poaching" instead of piracy: poachers are those who, in the shadow of the night, make forays behind the enclosures of the owner's land, capture their prey, and withdraw. I guess poaching, too, has a bad name, but I think both the scale and mode of intervention are more appropriate to describing off-the-radar cultural practices today [...] Usership stands opposed to the whole conceptual institution of ownership – the very thing that piracy, in its contemporary cultural coinage, like poaching and hacking, is supposed to challenge", (Stephen Wright).
  • Performative Debate: "A Day at the Courtroom", The Showroom London, June 15, 2013.
    With Lionel Bently (Professor of Intellectual Property at the University Cambridge), Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento (Art and Law, New York), Prodromos Tsiavos (Creative Commons, England, Wales and Greece).
    In a performative debate, three intellectual property lawyers will use their different legal backgrounds (USA, UK, Continental Europe) to explore concepts of legality, illegality and the nuances in-between, assessing selected cases from The Piracy Collection. Courtroom drawing by Thandiwe Stephanie Johnstone.
  • Panel Discussion: Sergio Munoz Sarmiento, Lauren Haaften-Schick, Andrea Francke, Eva Weinmayr, "The Classroom", curated by David Senior, The New York Art Bookfair, MoMA PS1, New York, September 28, 2014.
    For "The Classroom" event program, we invited artist Lauren Haaften-Schick and lawyer Sergio Munoz Sarmiento to discuss their recent article "Cariou v. Prince: towards a theory of aesthetic-judicial judgments" in which they analyze the Second Circuit's verdict in the "Cariou vs. Prince" fair use ruling. In this text, Munoz Sarmiento and van Haaften-Schick reflect on questions of labor, class, and celebrity in this ruling, and what happens when appropriation turns, via fair use, into a tool of power. →Download article.



  • Talks, interviews and panel discussions

    Presentation, public conference: "AMASS: Towards an Economy of the Commons", Chisenhale Gallery, London, April 16, 2011. Organized by Doxa, …ment and Amateurist Network, three independent collectives based in London. This one-day event addresses the question, 'What is the protocol of the commons?'. Artists, academics, and policymakers debate culture-led regeneration, precarity in the cultural economy, and open-source practices in the digital domain. www.chisenhale.org.uk

    In the early 2000s, the media industry as well as other market monopolies made several efforts to extend and toughen copyright policies against so-called online piracy and peer-to-peer sharing networks. The proposed "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement" (ACTA, 2011) attempted to establish an international legal standard for intellectual property rights enforcement targeting counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet. Similarly in the USA, the "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA, 2012) provoked massive international protest and debate among the open culture, open-source, and copyleft movements on disobedient counter-strategies, and practices of commoning as a way to oppose the looming enclosures.

    • Presentation and panel discussion: "Cultural Piracy", Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, September 24, 2011. With Nick Thurston (information as material, UK), The Piracy Project (UK), Kenneth Goldsmith (Ubuweb, US). Presentation slide: Entrance gate to Ai Weiwei's studio "Fake Design", CaoChangdi, Beijing China, 2012. Photo: The Piracy Project.
      In the organizers' words: "Where does the creative act lie in the process of copying? Cultural piracy is pervading publishing worldwide, but what makes these new forms original and what issues are raised?"
      Listen on sound cloud.
    • Public Talk: "Futures and Options", SALT Beyoğlu, Istanbul, March 15–16, 2012. A lecture series in the context of Joseph Redwood-Martinez's research project, "One Day Everything will be free." With Matteo Pasquinelli, Laurel Ptak, Özgür Uçkan, Caleb Waldorf, the Piracy Project.

      In the organizers' words: "The seemingly indispensable tools we use daily for social networking and online communication are all increasingly provided to us for free. In fact, as our way of life is becoming dependent on these and other gifted resources, many of the largest and most influential companies in the world are beginning to profit more from giving certain things away than from charging for them. Perhaps this growing flood of gifted goods implies that one day, everything will be free. But in any case, it becomes increasingly obvious: we're not paying for it because we're not the customer, we're the product being sold. Critical engagement with gift economies, open culture, intellectual property, and immaterial exploitation is not so new or unfamiliar, but the very real effects of these concepts are changing the way cultural practice is structured and how the once paying audience is now being enticed to remain involved, to keep giving, or to pay in other ways. But how are these new economic structures and their fundamental contradictions understood by cultural producers and social activists? How to engage with and situate oneself in relation to systems that facilitate the free exchange of information and ideas, yet simultaneously operate as structures of subjectification or mechanisms of corporatized social responsibility? Perhaps this could just start with a question a little closer to home: SALT is free, but at what or whose cost? One day, everything will be free…" is a long-term research project aimed at opening up questions about the economics of cultural institutional practice that in part stem from SALT being privately funded initiative partially located in the former Ottoman Bank. To encourage conversations about support structures for contemporary cultural production in Turkey, and to engage with cultural producers and audiences as they respond to and understand these structures, the dispersed research project will develop indefinitely with and through the participation of diverse publics and interlocutors. The invited speakers will look at the varied and conflicting legacies and implications of free economies, the recent turn within the field of cultural production toward reengaging with dormant economic imaginaries, and the changing relationships between what is privately owned and publicly shared in society." [1].
    • Panel Discussion: "Copycats vs Mr Big" at Truth is Concrete, Steirischer Herbst, Graz, September 29, 2012. With Lucifer / Church of Kopimism (NL), Joost Smiers (NL), Andrea Francke & Eva Weinmayr / The Piracy Project (GB) Moderated by Gary Hall (GB).

      In the organizers' words: "Copyright issues are in the media again – this time as part of a propaganda war. Witness Rupert Murdoch using Twitter to accuse Google of piracy, despite himself having been found guilty of heading an organization involved in hacking. Some small victories in this war have been achieved: the service blackout coordinated by Wikipedia and others in January 2012, resulting in the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill being postponed. Yet the real winner is Mr. Big, in the guise of the multinational conglomerates of the cultural industries, who continue to control the production, distribution, and marketing of the vast majority of the cinema, music, literature, television, art and design that constitutes our culture. How, then, might we turn away from copyright laws designed for the benefit of the 1%, to find ways of openly sharing knowledge, culture and education, while at the same time providing creative workers with a fair reward for their labor? Creative Commons licenses, free and open-source software, the movements for open access, open data and open education, free culture, peer-to-peer production, file and text-sharing networks along with other "pirate" strategies may all offer challenges to the current copyright system. Yet do we not need to establish some "chains of equivalence" between them, forms of mutual alignment between, say, open education, free software and even Occupy Wall Street and the student protest movements? Is the struggle for copyleft and copyfarleft only a cultural question? Or does it require the development of a new kind of economy and society: one based far less on possession, accumulation, competition, celebrity, and ideas of knowledge, culture and education as something to be owned, commodified, disseminated and exchanged primarily for the profit of individuals and corporations?" [2].
    • Public Talk: Andrea Francke at "States and Markets", at "Institutions by Artists" convention, Vancouver, October 12–15, 2012. Organized by the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres (PAARC), Fillip, and the Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference (La Conférence des collectifs et des centres d’artistes autogérés, ARCA).

      In the organizers' words: "Institutions by Artists is a three-day, international event that evaluates and activates the performance and promise of contemporary artist-run centers and initiatives. Convening a world congress of artists, curators, critics, and academics, Institutions by Artists will deliberate, explore, and advance the common interests of artist-run centers, collectives, and cultures, creating a catalyst for new as well as divergent assessments and perspectives on such phenomena today. Using experimental formats, performative frameworks, and participatory vehicles, the three-day series of events is designed to challenge and generate new thinking about artist-run initiatives globally, examining many dimensions, whether urban or rural, fixed or mobile, and local or regional, among others. Inspired by the many artists wrestling creatively with building, using, shaping, and deploying institutions by artists, we will explore economies of exchange and knowledge; institutional time and space; as well as intimate and professional networks, among other critical interrogations".
      Watch session 6 "States and Markets".
    • Conference presentation: "Piracy and Jurisprudence", Faculty and Business and Law and the Humanities, University of Southampton; the Centre for Law, Ethics and Globalisation (CLEG) and the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute, June 21–22, 2013.
      Convened by Oren Ben-Dor (law), Stephanie Jones (English), Alun Gibbs (law).
      Presentation slide: Buying pirated architecture books", Beijing, China, 2012. Credit: The Piracy Project.

      In the organizers' words: "Adored and detested, pirates evoke moral and ethical ambivalence: and piracy as a term of law has always been exceptionally vulnerable to political agendas. More precisely, it has always been a term of both high imperial/hegemonic art, and significant radical potential. As such, it is a word with a weighty history of complex moral and ethical loading and reloading. But it always invokes a refusal of juridification: it is a term that defines the margins of criminal and international law as juridical categories. Pirates are a recurring symbol of the ocean as a space beyond jurisdiction and the juridification of thought itself: as such, both known and hidden pirates arguably estrange historical thinking. Piracy is a form of violence that challenges discourses that attempt to shore-up spaces that assert a moral monopoly on violence: and piracy is a form of textual transgression that challenges the very ability of the law to draw boundaries. But even as piracy is a form of violence, it constitutes a challenge to the very violence involved in writing itself. The relationship between piracy and the law directs us to question the constitution of the human condition itself. This workshop will aim to explicate and explore the multiple significations of piracy and to track the implications of these significations for both abstract and practical notions of justice. Always pursuing a long view of legal histories, the commitment of the workshop and the publication are to disciplinary and geographical diversity and methodological innovation. The workshop will tussle with the distinctiveness and boundlessness of piracy as a 'category' (that refuses categorization). This interdisciplinary workshop is hosted and kindly sponsored by the Faculty and Business and Law and the Humanities, University of Southampton; the Centre for Law, Ethics and Globalisation (CLEG) and the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI)."
    • Public Talk: "Active and Passive Love of Books, The Piracy Project in conversation with Cornelia Sollfrank". Birmingham Public Library, December 12, 2013. Organized by Grand Union

      In the organizers' words: "This panel brings together artists Andrea Francke and Eva Weinmayr (Piracy Project) and Cornelia Sollfrank to discuss the legal frameworks that we engage with when we deal with each others' work. Artists, writers, and publishers are asking: what are the different ideologies behind these systems, and what are their implications? The speakers will explore the political and social implications of cultural piracy through examples from The Piracy Project collection. Andrea Francke & Eva Weinmayr run jointly The Piracy Project, an international publishing and exhibition project around the concept of originality, the fluidity of authorship and politics of copyright as part of AND Publishing's research program. www.andpublishing.org Cornelia Sollfrank, PhD, is an artist and researcher working at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland. Since the mid-1990s, her main interest lies in the exploration of the challenges art has to face under digital networked conditions. Her experiments with the basic principles of aesthetic modernism implied conflicts with its institutional and legal framework."
    • Public Talk: "The Piracy Project, Alternate Futures", convened by Oliver Klimpel, Klasse für Systemdesign, Hochschule für Gestaltung und Buchkunst Leipzig, January 18, 2013.
    • Public Lecture: The Piracy Project in the series "Making Social Realities with Books".
      Curated by Brett Bloom. Rum 46, Aarhus, April 16, 2013.

      In the organizer's words: "The series of lectures and workshops explore the idea of how books – libraries, archives, publishing, and distribution – are used to create distinct social realities, whether it is in small communities, or entire movements within art practices and related activities. For this series Brett and rum 46 invited Art Leaks (New Brunswick), Eva Egerman (Vienna), Public Collectors (Chicago), David Senior (San Francisco), Banu Cenetoglu (Istanbul), Brandon LaBelle (Copenhagen), Delphine Bedel (Berlin) and Lauren van Haften-Schick (New York).
    • Conference presentation: "Feminist Writing", organized by the Centre for Feminist Research, Goldsmiths College, London, June 6, 2014.

      In the organizers' words: "The questions of what to write, how to write, and where to write have always been central to feminism. Writing matters not only in the dissemination of knowledge but also in the creation of feminist publics. The history of feminism includes a history of materials that have been passed around. In this workshop, we hope both to return to some of these histories of feminist writing (to consider, for example, the role of feminist presses, the uses of brochures and pamphlets as well as experimentations with genres) as well as to reflect on the challenges and opportunities for feminists raised by digitalization. By 'writing' we thus not only refer to scripts or texts but all forms of communication."
      Listen on itunes.
    • Conference presentation: "The Piracy Project @ Open Design Shared Creativity". Convened by FAD (Fostering Art and Design), Viviana Narotzky. Barcelona, July 5–6, 2013.
      With Peter Troxler, Cecilia Tham, Marleen Stikker, Femke Snelting, Hannah Perner-Wilson, Cecilia Palmer, Sam Muirhead, Ezio Manzini, Antonin Léonard, Myles Lord, Patrick Kampmann, Tomas Diez, David Cuartielles, Javi Creus, Daniel Charny, Albert Cañigueral, Ricardo Amasté.

      In the organizers' words: "ODSC is an international forum that aims to present a variety of approaches to the concept of open design, touching different configurations of design practice, social design, user involvement and new business models. The main idea is to offer alternative visions to 'closed' and proprietary systems, be it in terms of the design process, business structure, social impact/participation, or dissemination. Digital technology and social networks have reached a point of maturity from which a new industrial culture is emerging, revolutionizing the processes of creation, mediation, distribution and consumption. Taking design in all its expressions and forms as a starting point, the conference is an important international forum of ideas, working platforms and specialized practices that are transforming the articulation of design with society, economy and culture."
      Watch on youtube.
    • Dinner Conversation: "The Piracy Project" in the series "Sister from Another Mister", hosted and organised by Maria Guggenbichler. Florijn, De Bijlmer, Amsterdam, November 9, 2013.

      In the organizer's words: "SISTER is a public events program for contemporary art, amateur conversations, users' culture, petit explorations in theory and practice, group hallucinations, specialists' strolls in the neighborhood, semi-academic thinking, science fiction of the past, reverse afro-futurism, the legacy of modernist urbanism, cultural cannibalism and queer appropriations, architecture parties, cooking dances, lingua franca, Wild Styles, Born in Flames, "Soup For The Night" becomes "Marble Cake On Sunday", former upper-class hobbies in what used to be a ghetto, R'n'B stars and HIP HOP. SISTER's home is the studio and apartment of BijlmAIR, artist residency program in Florijn 42, Amsterdam De Bijlmer."
      With Eva Weinmayr, Karin Michalski, Silvia Radicioni, Ann Cvetkovich, Sara Mattens, Anna McCarthy, Kapwani Kiwanga, Sun Ra, Wendy Van Wynsberghe, Maria Boletsi, Jerry Kno'Ledge Afriyie, Looi van Kessel, Gerlov van Engelenhoven, Maria Trenkel, Niklaus Mettler, Missy Elliot, DJ Døg, DJ Fair Trade, DJ Miss Samidi, DJ Boris Becker, Yeni Mao, Ivana Hilj, Rachel Somers Miles, Oswald de Andrade, Caetano Carvalho, Luc van Weelden, David Morris, Schizo Culture, Ti Grace Atkinson, Chris Kraus, DJ Nate, KRS-One, Deniz Unal, Leandro Cardoso Nerefuh, Lina Bo Bardi, Alencastro, Stefan Wharton, Alexander Krone, Nikos Doulos, Bart Witte, Nadia Tsulukidze, Stalin, Lieke Wouters, Thomas Hirschhorn, Born in Flames, Innercity, Fyoelk, The-High-Exalted-Never-Out-Dated-Grand Wizard Crem Fresh, Moemlien, Sapi & Cheworee Safari, Jamila Drott, BST Crew, Kristy Fenton, Rammellzee, Butcher's Tears, Paris is Burning, Anne Dersen, Margarita Osipian, Failed Architecture, Tim Verlaan, Mark Minkjan, Katharina Rohde, Roel Griffioen, ¥, and many others.
    • Interview: "Cornelia Sollfrank in conversation with Andrea Francke and Eva Weinmayr", Grand Union Birmingham, December 6, 2013.
      In the context of Cornelia Sollfrank's artistic research project "Giving What you don’t have", exploring the relationship between art and the commons, Postdigital Publishing Lab, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, 2013.
      Watch interview
      Read the transcript.

    Workshops, Collective Research, Teaching with the Piracy Project

    Workshop, "Pirate Lab", Byam Shaw School of Art, May–June, 2010.

    The Piracy Project explores questions of copying, reproducing, appropriating in a practical and hands-on way, whilst simultaneously reflecting on issues that emerge through this practice. As such, it has proven to be an useful and highly engaging teaching method. In the context of both higher education and art spaces and institutions, participants explored the legal and their own moral and ethical boundaries trying to negotiate the conflicts that might arise from this practice.

    Workshop at "Making Social Realities with Books" convened by Brett Bloom, Rum 46, Arhus.
    April, 15–19, 2013.

    Making Social Realities with Books, Brett Bloom (Temporary Services, Chicago) invited the Piracy Project to run a workshop in the series " Making Social Realities with Books", which he co-organized with rum 46 in Copenhagen. The series of lectures and workshops explore the idea of how books – libraries, archives, publishing, and distribution – are used to create distinct social realities. Participants in this one-week workshop traveled from art academies in Denmark, Latvia, and Estonia to collectively think through the complexities of cultural piracy and appropriation. We explored strategies and ethics of unauthorized publishing, built on local facilities and knowledge, visited self-publishers, self-organized print shops, libraries, and bookshops in Aarhus.


    Workshop at "Alternate Futures" convened by Oliver Klimpel. Klasse für System Design, Hochschule für Gestaltung und Buchkunst, Leipzig, January 17–19, 2013.

    Alternate Futures Conceived and organized by Oliver Klimpel and Lina Grumm at the Leipzig Academy of Fine Arts, this course project takes as starting point in Victor Papanek's legacy of socially and ecologically responsible design to explore possible utopias in visual culture and fiction's potential to construct new worlds. A project on speculation, alternatives and the courage to imagine. From the course brief: "Curation from the Commas, Translative Authorship, Visual Re-Authorship, Experimental Authorship, Reductive Re-Authorship, Reductive Subtraction, Identity Subversion, Bootleg (Visual Re-Authorship), Concrete Transformation (Narrative Appropriation), Critical Theory (Denial of Image Clearance), etc. For example: changing the ending, translating, taking out, inserting, etc..."


    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    Workshop "One Publishes to Find Comrades", The Piracy Project at Kunstverein Munich,
    November 4–28, 2014.
    One Publishes to Find Comrades, a two-week workshop at Kunstverein Munich, focused on alternative and informal and counter-public archives, collections, libraries and bookshops, as well as independent print shops in Munich. For this research into local and informal knowledge infrastructures we invited Ingrid Scherf, the co-founder of Munich's independent Basis bookshop and event space (closed in 2010) and co-editor of Das Blatt, West Germany's first alternative city magazine (1973–84) in order to give a voice to those who are not represented by mainstream media. Marcell Mars visited from his residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart to speak about his project Public Library, a collaboration with Tomislav Medak. Sarah Käsmayr introduced us to her Raubkopiebuch, investigating book piracy in the context of 1960s and 70s German student movement. Stephan Dillemuth invited us to unpack his zine archive. Ruth Höflich introduced us to her critical publishing practice and gave a guided tour through her father's print workshop, Druckwerkstatt Höflich, in Munich. Anna McCarthy invited us for a conversation about her exhibition Nein and her and Tagar's independent publishing, performance and recording practice. We also visited Steffi Hammann at the Munich Art Academy, where, as a student and in collaboration with Maria von Mier, she set up a publishing house, Hammann von Mier, that operates from within the art school classroom. Finally we visited the copy shop Unikopie, where – as the shop owners told us – the space is not only used for print production (making copies), but also for dissemination (leaving copies back in the shop for random people to pick up). Download zine produced during the workshop










    Edited Publications

    The Piracy Collection as of 25.11.2011,
    21 × 15.4 cm, 90 pages, b&w, digital print, AND Publishing London, 2011

    The Piracy Collection as of 25.11.2011, printed in black and white with a blank library card slid into the front cover, contains the full catalog of the books in The Piracy Collection received by November 25, 2011. It represents a specific point in time, as the collection is constantly evolving. Alongside an introduction, the catalog contains cover images and short descriptions of each of the submitted book projects demonstrating many different strategies and approaches to un-authorized copying and piracy.


    Piracy Paper#1: Jackson Hole, Dear Grandpa by Michael Eddy & Grandpa Eddy, London: AND Publishing, 2012
    Piracy Paper #2: The Author of Everything by James Bridle, London: AND Publishing, 2013
    Piracy Paper #3: The Junk Ships on Alibaba by Joanne McNeil, London: AND Publishing, 2014

    The Piracy Papers is a series of aperiodically published pamphlets, that contain stories and essays that were previously published online.

    Piracy Paper #1: Jackson Hole by Michael Eddy & Grandpa Eddy. Michael Eddy's Jackson Hole is an email exchange between Michael (based in Bejing) and his grandfather (based near Jackson Hole, USA) about the re-creation of the eponymous American town on the outskirts of Beijing, China, and both writers' reflections on these two places that – although connected – are so different from each other.

    Piracy Paper #2: The Author of Everything by James Bridle. In this short story, James Bridle explores the possibilities and practices created by the employment of overseas workers in the digitization of English Classics into e-books. What are the systems that guarantee the truthful "transformation" of these texts?

    Piracy Paper #3: The Junk Ships on Alibaba by Joanne McNeil. In this short story, Joanne McNeil describes a series of encounters with different types of counterfeit cultures around the world and their interaction with digital technologies.


    ⟶  see publication: Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Cloning, Translating

    Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Cloning, Translating, edited by Andrea Francke & Eva Weinmayr,
    25 x 21 cm, 140 pages, digital print. Published, designed and produced by AND, London, 2014.

    Borrowing, Poaching, Plagiarising, Pirating, Stealing, Gleaning, Referencing, Leaking, Copying, Imitating, Adapting, Faking, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Reproducing, Using, Counterfeiting, Repeating, Cloning, Translating is an open-ended reader, which will develop over time as people buy shares in its chapters. The book explores the vocabulary that became relevant to the Piracy Project. In an attempt to acknowledge the paradoxical positions that the reductive legal-illegal binary produce, the book explores an alternative vocabulary of relationships to the work of others.

    At the time of writing, the book contains essays and contributions by Dave Hickey, Eva Hemmungs-Wirtén, Joanne McNeil, Karen Di Franco, Lionel Bently, Prodromos Tsiavos, Sergio Munoz Sarmiento and awaits prospective essays by James Bridle, Stephen Wright and 16 others. Courtroom drawings are by Stephanie Thandiwe Johnstone.
    Excerpt from the introduction to the book: "This book is not finished. It is the start of a dialogue that will grow as we go along. Normally when you publish a book it aims to be a resolved object, an endpoint of a process. Not this one. The thing is that there are two of us, and that has become one of the key determinants of how the project evolves. There are always two voices, and that allows us always to be open to different positions. I guess that's what I call a dialogue." (...)




    What Others Say

    • Ali Diker researching for his article "Korsan Proje", in Bloomberg Businessweek Turkiye, April 1–7, 2012 (Turkish).
      →Download article.
    • "The Piracy Project" by Orit Gat, Rhizome, October 25, 2011.
      Read article.
    • Pathologies of Dissent, Sidney Hart and Noah Bremer, art and education, e-flux paper, 2012.
      Read article.