Ars Electronica 2002
Festival-Website 2002
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Festival 1979-2007


Kingdom of Piracy
Online Project

'Yukiko Shikata Yukiko Shikata / 'Shu Lea Cheang Shu Lea Cheang / 'Armin Medosch Armin Medosch

Kingdom of Piracy is an online, open work space to explore the free sharing of digital content—often condemned as piracy—as the Net’s ultimate art form. Commissioned by the Acer Digital Art Center [ADAC] in Taiwan for ArtFuture 2002, was designed to include links, objects, ideas, software, commissioned artists’ projects, critical writing and online streaming media events. Hailed as the first international online exhibition sponsored by Taiwan’s computer giant Acer Group, a pilot website, was launched in December 2001 and presented with a press conference at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipai, Taiwan. In April 2002 the leadership and direction of ADAC changed. At about the same time, a major anti-piracy initiative was launched in Taiwan. became a politically sensitive issue in Taiwan and the launch was delayed—indefinitely it seemed. By May, the curatorial and artists’ FTP access to the server was denied. By mid-June, was taken offline. ADAC demanded editorial rights to artists’ links and requested a change of the title, Kingdom of Piracy. The joint curatorial team rejected this demand and sought ways of preserving the project as both a Taiwanese initiative and an international online art project. In the meantime is seeking patronage of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, and is being premiered at Ars Electronica 2002.

In the emergent information, or immaterial, economy, intellectual property (IP)—copyrighted content and patented ideas—constitutes the central resource of many of its biggest industries, from IT to entertainment, pharmaceuticals and biotech. The definition of intellectual property rights in the digital domain has emerged as one of the central struggles to shape the culture of the information society.

Less than a decade ago, the Internet promised free and unlimited exchange of digital cultural goods. In recent years, however, the specter of “piracy” has been replacing this utopia. In the wake of this shift, a repressive regime is being installed to clamp down on what is seen as a threat to the information economy. Content industries employ armies of lawyers to shut down peer-to-peer file sharing networks, and write laws preventing any and all circumvention of copyright protection mechanisms. The latter is aimed at bolstering the relatively new approach to enforce copyright through special software, known as digital rights management systems (DRMS), which should make the unauthorized copying of ebooks, music and video files impossible. These systems fundamentally change the nature of ownership. Culturally important, even essential, notions such as fair use are being eroded in favor of total control of the owners over the uses of their content.

In this brave new world, the buyer receives a limited license to use a file rather than “owning” a record, video or book. The balance of power shifts to companies that hoard big libraries of copyrighted material. These companies, mostly big multinational conglomerates, have recently been branded as ‘data lords’ because they can control how we can see, hear, read, and process digital content that we legally own. The rigid enforcement of intellectual property rights worldwide through patents, copyright, anti-piracy laws is resisted by a loose but growing alliance of scientists, researchers, free software and open source developers, artists, lawyers and teachers. They fear that the barriers for innovation are being set too high by the data lords. By building digital and legal fences around information, the costs of access for educational, scientific and artistic institutions and practices are becoming prohibitive. As a consequence intellectual life and radical innovation are in danger of being choked in the interest of a few who control how existing information can be used for the creation of new information.

The purpose of Kingdom of Piracy is to consider the law-and-order provisions surrounding intellectual property in the context of geographical and cultural borders, and to examine the changes and challenges presented by them to artists and cultural producers worldwide.

Contrary to frequent claims, intellectual property rights are not universal. They have no history in Asia, for example. The demonstrative destruction of millions of pirated CDs and DVDs in China, part of the spectacle of the country’s entry into the WTO, does not change the fact that much of the Asian continent is still operating on its own terms. The bursting of the dot-com bubble in the early 21st century has plunged Taiwan and Asia‘s electronic supply industries into recession, keeping the divide between Western and Eastern economies as wide as ever.

The Kingdom of Piracy is everywhere where there is radical innovation: on the fringes and in the mainstream high-tech economies, from Asia to Eastern Europe to the data havens of Sealand and hackers’ garages in Silicon Valley. The digital commons is bathing in millions of MP3s and an endless supply of warez. Codes for appropriation, cut-and-paste, replication, sampling and remixing have long been established as artistic practice. challenges artists, writers and practitioners to use these techniques to question, contribute to, analyze and otherwise address this growing Kingdom. It also asks them to become intimately involved in the processes of the Kingdom itself, a place in which all productions are part of an innately collaborative, derivative and intimately interconnected environment of intellectual ‘properties.’

Kingdom of Piracy invites allied crews of hackers (in the sense of Eric S. Raymond: “A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities”) and artists to plug into the supply lines of digital abundance. The site is an active public sphere for global file-shareing, de/scrambling and digital culture jamming. Commissioned works are engaged in artistic acts of “piracy” as a strategy for intellectual discourse and poetic intervention, but not as any endorsement of piracy as a business model.

co-curators: Shu Lea Cheang, Armin Medosch, Yukiko Shikata
project producer: Ray Wang. project coordinator: Mia Chen

The Right to Copy: Local study on piracy as an art form
Whiteg Weng
As all-encompassing as the idea of intellectual property and copyright is today, the mis-coinage “piracy” has wide application on the Internet beyond those of w4r3z d00dz, key generators and bootleg distributions. Music soundtracks, HTML source code, and 2-D graphics are all subjects to low-cost duplication efforts. This study takes a local perspective to focus on the positive effects of uncontrolled duplication both on industrial growth and cultural identification; this mentality was arguably the core reason for the so-called “Taiwan Miracle,” which heavily depends on IP-free materials in the Commons.

Highlighting the most influential events of the past 10 years, we provide a chronology of the mass movement of duplication and distribution on various media, and try to shed some light on today’s dilemma of striking a balance between pleasing foreign content holders and fostering development of local culture. Is the right to copy an exclusive privilege of content suppliers? What are the positions of various participants in this struggle? Is such a vendetta absolutely unavoidable?
(writing project)
stealth waltz
Mukul Patel & Manu Luksch
The Corporation Inc
Announcement to stakeholders: Heritage License Agreement

Announcement to stakeholders: Heritage License Agreement Following the highly successful appropriation of bio- and ecoknowledge and techniques through patent legislation, The Corporation today announces the extension of its reach to the regulation of folkloric production—in particular, music. Folklore encodes traditional wisdom that rightfully belongs to everyone. The current inheritors of these forms do not have the means to adequately preserve or share them. The Corporation, with the support of a consortium of publishing companies, will safeguard this global cultural heritage, develop efficient distribution mechanisms, and conduct an archaeology of the traditional wisdom encoded in folklore through the Heritage License Agreement (HLA). The HLA is effective immediately. Only instrumental electronic music in 2/2 time (binary beats) is exempt from the Heritage License, and may be distributed and consumed without reference to an agent of the HLA.

The Corporation will be the exclusive licensing agent for traditional music production and distribution. As a valued stakeholder, you are assured of high rewards.

Ambient Information Systems Ltd./ For Immediate Release
Ambient Information Systems Ltd. is proud to launch the first fully vetted and ratified HLA-free 2/2 server (www.ambienttv.net/2002/2). DOWNLOAD FOR FREE (limited time offer). Our first license-free 2/2 track, Stealth Waltz by Electroglo-Bodywerkz (Manu & Mukul). Hidden inside one simple rhythm loop (in time sig. of 4) is another loop. When the 2 loops are played together, a waltz is heard—the stealth waltz. AIS: For all your contemporary musical needs. Stay safe, stay legal!
Video game culture has long relied on “crackers,” the fearless geeks who remove a game’s copy protection through brute force. Crackers often leave behind modified startup screens as evidence of their trade. This special cracker graffiti both documents the intrusion and provides a platform to showcase the cracker’s skills. “Low Level All Stars” showcases the best cracker tags selected from over 1,000 games available for the commodore 64 computer. All cracker tags have been re-cracked by beige and RSG and extracted as stand-alone commodore animations. You may watch a video clip documenting each piece, or view still images. ROMs will be available soon from this site. All documentation was made directly from the C64 with no computer emulation.
The File That Wouldn’t Leave
Satanism, Pedophilia, Cyber Inquisition and Cultural Terrorism in the amazing story of “The File That Wouldn’t Leave”
You won’t believe it!

On the 4th of March 2002, 0100101110101101.ORG is forced to immediately erase from its server the file containing Luther Blissett’s book Lasciate che i bimbi (“Let The Children. Paedophilia as a pretext for a witch hunt”). The server hosts the (un)complete archive of the Luther Blissett Project 1994 – 2000 (www. Luther Blissett.net). The imposition comes from the international Internet provider PSInet, with the threat of cutting 0100101110101101. ORG’s connectivity. The excuse is that the content of the book is “illegal and defamatory and relating to paedophilia.” The named book analyses instead how the creation of emergencies becomes a way to establish more restrictive laws and censorship, both in the real world and on the Internet. The book comes to the conclusion that the pedophilia phenomenon has been amplified and magnified resulting in a repressive crusade towards all individual liberties.

The File That Wouldn’t Leave is the story of a case of subtle censorship obtained trough the provider’s Net Abuse Policies, that allows it to impose the removal from a website of any material considered defamatory, obscene, pornographic, pedophile or simply inconvenient. The pyramid-like Internet connectivity system allows any server, by simply sending an email message, to start a chain reaction of removing requests that, threatening to cut the connectivity, starts from the upper level server downwards, to reach any single website that hosts the named material. Whereas no server is supposed to verify the truth of the accusation, any server has the right of imposing the removal to the lower ones. The File That Wouldn’t Leave shows how censorship develops and where it can lead.
injunction generator
The injunction generator offers all Internet users a platform to generate court orders and automatically send them to the respective registrars, domain-name holders and journalists. You can issue as many court orders as you wish and bring down as many domains as you want. The platform will constantly monitor the targeted urls and send out alerts to all involved parties as soon as the target-site dns is down. Chaos in all cases, it does not matter whether the registrar actually decides to take the domain down or not, chaos is guaranteed in any case (and as we all know, certain downtimes for web-servers are usual, so our alerts will generate some attention to this fact). So we wish you a pleasant “ZEITGEISTschiffeversenken” game with our non-territorial digital legal art.
Global Village Health Manual v.1
Raqs Media Collective + Joy Chatterjee
Work in the Age of Virtual Reproduction
This work wants you to suspend conventional notions of authorship while you interact with it. Just as the artisans of the popular prints of the last two centuries often used images and motifs from the visual universe around them, so too have we gathered materials from the World Wide Web to constitute the different layers of this work.

This is as much to bring to public attention the inherent extensibility and reproducible nature of artwork in the digital domain, as it is to reclaim the knowledge-sharing imperative of early popular printmaking. This is why we have chosen the cover of a manual, a primer of public health, as our point of reference. In the late nineteenth century, printmaking entered the public imagination as a cheap, accessible and popular means of producing and circulating pictures, stories, information and rumor. This was a culture that eluded censors and skirted copyright. Today, a hundred years later, a cluster of technologies centered on the computer and the Internet has made possible the birth of a new folklore of images and ideas, which, like its print ancestor, is also busy eluding censors and skirting copyright.

This work wants you to bridge the distance between the data stream of the present and the fading imprint of the recent past. It asks that you look through yesterday’s web of images at the bitmap of where you are today.
Resource Hanger +
ResourceHanger+ (RH+) makes objects of web sites from the inputted keyword or URL, and offers the interface which carries out the hybrid. It supports basic cycles of all creative acts such as: copy . improvement . copy … as the process will be further repeated. The code by JAVA of RH+ itself is also open for improvement.
I love you, world
I want to make a piece of poetry lost in the net; with sudden cuts, minimal and cold, baroque and lonely, mixing CNN with flowers, inviting Christiane Amanpour to write few sentences, code and information, from haven to earth. The World Data is hacked and accessible, why should we lose time discussing Entertainment Data piracy? I want to explore sense of precise solitude in the Kingdom. (V.R.)
explorer 98 game
EASTWOOD – Real Time Strategy Group
explorer 98 is a net game, which is based on two inseparable parts of today’s industry of fun: corporations that make computer games, and platforms—operative systems on which games have been played. The game explorer 98 is a perverse convergence of the largest software corporation, Microsoft, and one of the biggest studios for RTS (real-time strategy) games, Westwood Studio. explorer 98 is a RTS game but also includes several other genre elements of contemporary computer games as adventures or arcades. explorer 98 uses as its game map snapshots (print screens) from Windows explorer 98 browser that is a constitutive part of the Windows 98 operating system. Units in the game are units from Westwood’s game from the Command & Conquer Series: Tiberian Sun. Symbolically, this game is played inside the very core of the Microsoft empire, inside Windows Explorer, the ultimate search engine in Windows’ operating system. There is only one campaign. The player is always on the side of Microsoft; he/she must choose to be a hero of the Microsoft Windows empire against evil terrorists. There is no alternative.

Everything, from the explorer map to the units is cut/pasted and then included in the game. All software is illegal/pirate (Windows98, Westwood’s Tiberian Sun), and it was bought on the Novi Sad black market.
i_Biology Patent Engine(i-BPE)
Diane Ludin
“A patent is a type of property right. It gives the patent holder the right, for a limited time, to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing into the United States the subject matter that is within the scope of protection granted by the patent.”—U.S. Patent Office

i-BPE is an open gene patent machine.
i-BPE is an open gene project.
i-BPE is a counter-market-objectivity tool.
i-BPE is a patent the patent action.
i-BPE agents will offer trans-corporate DNA play, for non-governmental ownership.
i-BPE gene patents will return bio-rights to non-governmental, cultural agents for revision.
Top 100 Net Blockers
Dragan Espenschied, Alvar Freude
The Internet is the single most powerful medium for free expression and speech in history. This freedom is endangered by many initiatives that are trying to block access to content for certain audiences: for example, the inhabitants of a whole state. State agencies promote restricted access and impose filtering policies on ISPs to “protect” Internet users from pornography, racism, crime and every other non-valid content. Intelligence services want to read emails, monitor each Internet user and a lot more. ODEM.org aims to add a new view to the discussion by presenting an off-the-shelf information blocking, filtering, manipulating and spying-out solution called Omni Cleaner that:
  • easily handles the amount of traffic a typical provider has to deal with

  • can be controlled by a centralized agency—for example, a possible future German Ministry of Internet Censorship,

  • offers all the nasty features a police state would like to have in a comfortable interface that gives people with no Internet experience (like the typical politician) the possibility to control all net traffic

  • can also keep encrypted websites under surveillance

  • is able to forward arbitrary emails over a secure connection to a centralized agency

  • offers the possibility to change the content of every affected web page: partially or completely
Purchase Omni Cleaner and finally live in a beautiful world! (price negotiable)
From Underground to Mainstream
Felix Stalder
As the Internet exploded into a mass medium in the mid-1990s, underground culture that had contributed significantly to the creation of cyberspace exploded with it. This was not the first time that the underground burst out of its niche, but this time, things were different. By having full access to highly efficient means of production and distribution, the underground was no longer restricted to a few clubs in global cities, some galleries in Paris, London, and NYC, specialized book stores, or computer labs at universities. Underground acquired overnight the global reach of the mainstream. On a structural level, the distinction between the two was disappearing rapidly. Nothing symbolized this better than Napster. Free sharing of music, simply for the joy of being part of a peer group, could now rival the industry’s own distribution channels in terms of efficiency.
As a consequence, the open model of underground culture (defamed as piracy) has come into full confrontation with the closed model of the mainstream.
(writing project)
Warriors of Perception: Search and Manifest (A Freenet Game)
Agnese Trocchi

SOME UNIVERSE for heike, dragan and your browser
Olia Lialina

The elixir Initiative (Autrijus Tang & Ilya Eric Lee)


Distributed Media - Digital Abundance: Property Decay in C21
J.J. King

(writing project)