Piracy Cultures| The Quiet Agglomeration of Data: How Piracy is Made Mundane

Jonas Andersson


This article conceptually outlines P2P-based file-sharing as a totality, a mass utility, and a backdrop to everyday cultural life. It elaborates on a recent study of Swedish file-sharers to sketch some important constituents of what would constitute a “piracy culture.” It shows that the actual file-sharer argumentation is not fully synonymous with established notions of “piracy” but rather reveals the complexity of the phenomenon and how the discourse invoking it relies on modes of justification that are not entirely commensurable. Moreover, the file-sharer rhetoric is contingent on a range of entities and infrastructures that condition actual usage. Noting the institutionalized, semi-anonymous, and depersonalized elements to file-sharing, I propose a different interpretation than regarding it as a “gift economy” like the tight-knit communities Mauss described in 1923. Instead, I propose a metaphor borrowed from Titmuss’ example of blood donors that acknowledges the perceived “need” for culture and the associated “right” to access content that file-sharers are exercising.

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