Piracy Cultures| The Collector is the Pirate

Abigail T. De Kosnik


This article continues the tradition begun by Walter Benjamin (1931/1968) and Charles Tashiro (1996) of seeking to explain the phenomenon of media collecting through the experiences of an individual collector. By closely examining the habits of one person who collects films and TV series through illegal file sharing, I claim that the drive to engage in Internet piracy stems from the drive to collect. I compare digital-collecting piracy to earlier modes of collecting as practiced and/or theorized by Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, and Jean Baudrillard. My conclusion is that Internet file sharers, for the most part, repeat the behaviors and psychological motivations of earlier collectors, and that Internet piracy differs from predigital collecting in only one significant way: Digital collector-pirates are at far greater risk for severe legal and financial punishment for their activities than their predecessors were.

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