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Archive for 2007

Jammie Thomas Has A Posse

Jammie Thomas, the lady slapped with a $220,000 fine for sharing 24 songs online this week, has taken her case from the courts to the intertubes. Alongside this Youtube video, she has a blog on MySpace, and a site called Free Jammie has been set up, where you can donate money to help keep Jammie free.

Surely this is a fit-up?

Kwik Fit

The BBC is reporting that music industry is suing Kwik-Fit, a UK-based chain of car repair shops, for infringing musical copyright because its employees listen to radios at work?!?

The PRS (an organization that collects royalties for artists in the UK) claimed “that Kwik-Fit mechanics routinely use personal radios while working at service centres across the UK and that music, protected by copyright, could be heard by colleagues and customers.”

Those evil car mechanics.

Kwik-Fit is asking for the case to be thrown out. If that doesn’t work and the UK becomes an inhospitable environment for music-loving mechanics, apparently demand is on the rise for tire repair centers in Sweden.

Can you imagine how efficient the record labels would be now if they had invested just half the time and effort they’ve put into turning their business into a protection racket, into legitimizing downloading?

Lessig vs. Corruption (My money is on Lessig)

Free Culture

Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig is one of the most important voices in the debate on copyright. As well as founding the creative commons movement, he’s published a number of incredible books on how we use information, his book Free Culture is one of the most important I’ve ever read.

So it was sad to hear that Lessig is shifting his focus away from copyright, but great to hear he is now tackling a much bigger problem: government corruption.

As Lessig spells out in this recent TV interview, our corrupt system of government is the real reason we can’t seem to collectively get our heads round relatively straightforward problems, like fair use and copyright, but also slightly more complex problems such as global warming. He’s advocating the need for transparent governments, and encouraging the rest of us to help make this happen (a great starting point is this wiki). Given the difference he made to the copyright debate, I’m excited about what Lessig will achieve over the next ten years in this area. Definitely a potential future high ranking member of the coming Obama administration.

Penguins Rising

Linux Penguin

Linux doubled its market share over the last year according to Softpedia. Statistics provided by Market Share by Net Applications show that between December 2006 and September 2007, Linux doubled its market penetration – which still only amounts to an increase from 0.37% to 0.81% of the market, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Why we steal.

Smooth Criminal

When order breaks down, people who are otherwise law-abiding citizens begin to do things they wouldn’t normally do. This is why mass looting breaks out in the aftermath of hurricanes, coups, and riots. It’s also why people steal music, movies and whatever else they can.

Stealing became the counterculture because corporate pillaging became the norm. A 32 year old woman from Minnesota, who “lives paycheck to paycheck,” was just fined $222,000 for illegally sharing music online. She could be giving a quarter of that paycheck to the music industry for the rest of her life, because she downloaded 24 songs. Richard Gabriel, a lawyer for the music companies, told AP that the verdict sends a message “that downloading and distributing our recordings is not okay.”

This verdict sent me a very different message. While I don’t make a habit of downloading a lot of music illegally, this verdict made me want to download eighty gigs of unreleased Celine Dion and share it with as many people as I possibly could. This verdict sent a message to me that the major record labels are about as good for society as the mafia. What they are doing to music fans is disgusting, and high profile court cases like this are only going to hasten their inevitable demise. I didn’t hit the Pirate Bay this morning, but thousands will, and the millions of people who hear about this story will think less favorably of the record labels, labels they collectively have the power to destroy.

From Prince giving away his last album to Radiohead releasing In Rainbows for free, the artists with commercial savvy and respect for their fans are doing the right thing and as I’ve said before , a new music industry is growing as a result. Radiohead’s front-man Thom Yorke told TIME, “I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say ‘F___ you’ to this decaying business model.”

Business of Software 2007

Business of Software 2007

I wrote a short piece on the future of the software industry for the Business of Software blog – you can read it here. Business of Software 2007 is shaping up to be a really good event – I’ll be doing a keynote, as will Guy Kawasaki, Joel Spolsky, Hugh MacLeod, and Eric Sink. It’s all happening at the end of this month in San Jose. You can order tickets and find out more here.

2007: The year marketing execs got in touch with your inner child

Big ad man

Seven years ago parody newspaper The Onion ran a piece on an ad man getting in touch with his inner child to work out how to sell things. 2007 was the year The Onion’s spoof article came true. I talk a lot in the book about how marketing is causing generation gaps to disappear. Marketers are going after your inner child with products that make us feel young again. One of my favorite new inner child trends: adult baby clothes.

LRG Skeleton Hoody

Dead Serious

Last Halloween LRG came out with the “dead serious” hoodie, a creepy little number that zipped all the way up over the head, turning the occupant into a skeleton (with glow in the dark bones no less). When Kanye West wore it at a Stella McCartney fashion show that October, it became the most hyped hoodie in history, and a trend was born.

A Bathing Ape x DC Comics Super Hero Hoodies

Bape Batman

Japan’s A Bathing Ape street fashion brand took the concept and ran with it, teaming up with DC Comics to release a range of clothes for fully-grown toddlers featuring everyone’s favorite comic-book heroes. As well as the Batman version pictured, Superman, Flash and Wonderwoman all got a shout out, and each hoodie is complemented by a matching sneaker packed as an action figure. The best thing since your mom got you Spiderman slippers when you were four.

Marc Ecko x Lucasfilm Boba Fett Hoody

Ecko Boba Fett

If your inner child prefers super-villains, this could be for you. Graffiti-inspired fashion entrepreneur Marc Ecko is the youngest member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s board of directors, which clearly means he’s still very much in touch with his inner child, which explains how he came up with this man-sized children’s party costume designed to keep your inner twelve-year-old bounty hunter toasty all winter. Part of a limited-edition collection of Star Wars-inspired clothing this fall, under license from Lucasfilm, to celebrate 30 years of all things Star Wars. No word on prices, but start saving your pocket money.

Burton Sleeper Hoodie

Sleeper hoodie burton

Of all the hoodies designed for your inner child, this one from Burton is the cream of the crop. The snowboarding company went for substance rather than all-over-print style, and created a piece of clothing specially designed for catching a nap on the plane – a security blanket for travelling thirtysomethings. Featuring an inflatable neck pillow built into the hood, a second pull-down light-shield that covers your whole face, thumb holes in the sleeves and pit-zips to keep the air circulating, hidden passport, iPod and earplug pockets (complete with earplugs) this mobile sleeping bag is great for flying long haul, although the guy next to me asked if I had a neck brace on when I inflated the hood. $100 from Burton.

Keepin’ it real fake: 10 of the world’s worst (or possibly best) counterfeits

Something people often say to me about the The Pirate’s Dilemma is that piracy isn’t always good, a statement I totally agree with – this is in part why piracy creates dilemmas. Piracy can drive innovation and force society to become more efficient, but sometimes there is no substitute for the genuine article, and all piracy creates is cheap imitations. To prove it, I set out to round up some of the worst forgeries I could find, but even some of these are better than the real thing…

1. Fake North Korean “Super Dollars”

Kim Jong Bill

The Super Dollar is a near perfect copy of a United States banknote allegedly produced in North Korea. Super Dollars have been circulating since the 1980s and the United States government claims North Korea is knocking out these dodgy Kim Jong bills for two reasons: as a source of income, and to undermine the U.S. economy.

Currently, it is estimated that 1 in 10,000 bills is a Super Dollar, so-called because of the fact that the technology incorporated to create them exceeds the technology used to create an original Benjamin. This oddity is one of the reasons others have alleged it’s actually the CIA knocking out the funny money.

Whoever it is behind them, the way things are going, they’ll probably soon be worth more than real 100 dollar bills.

2. Fake Iranian Starbucks


They may not have gay people in Iran, y’know, except for maybe 150,000, not including this guy, but they do have Starbox.

Seriously, we all like gay people, we all like heavily branded coffee…

Why can’t we all just get along?

3. Fake Mexican Game Consoles

X-game 360

Geekologie spotted the X-Game 360 in Mexico, also known as the Powerstation 3. I’ve seen something similar in the Atlantic Mall in Brooklyn, running a hacked, buggy version of “Super Marion Bros”, which handled a little something like this:

4. Fake Chinese Rolexes (that could end up costing more than real ones)

Rolex watch by Hive

photo by Hive

If you’ve ever been to a tacky vacation resort and not been offered an awful imitation Rolex, then the resort obviously wasn’t tacky enough. Many are tempted on vacation by Relexes, Prado shoes and Giorgio Delpino sunglasses, but U.S. Customs have recently introduced some tough new policies that could mean owning a fake Rolex ends up costing you more than a real one.

Mr. Mike Korpi of Oregon found this out the hard way when he came back from China in May with eight souvenir pirated Rolexes for his kids and grandkids, which had cost him a grand total of $14.40. Homeland Security seized the watches, and told him he was being fined $55,300 for violating Rolex’s protected trademark. “I can’t sleep. I haven’t slept in five days. It’s gnawing at me hard” Mr. Korpi told The Oregonian. “If they are supposed to be border protection and patrol, why are they bothering me with eight dinky watches?”

If it’s any consolation, Korpi was informed, he should have been glad it was Homeland Security taking action and not Rolex, because they might have charged him up to $100,000… per watch.

Beware of expensive imitations.

5. Fake Cartoon Shoes

Captain Planet AF1

The shoe pictured isn’t so much a counterfeit as it is a remix, but a terrible remix can be just as bad, if not worse. A customized Blues Clues dunk or a Sponge Bob Jordan is not a good look, but these Air Force Ones featuring Captain Planet are particularly offensive. If you’re old enough to know who Captain Planet is, then your way too old for these my friend. Yours for $99.99 at weegotyou.com. I was looking for some terrible fake Manolos as well, and that’s when I found…

6. Fake Barry Manilow

Fake Barry Manilow

I wasn’t sure if this guy should be on the list, because I actually think celebrity impersonators are better the less they look like their celeb namesakes. So by being the worst fake Barry Manilow isn’t really a Manilow-no, because he’s actually the best, no?

Either way, I’m booking this guy for the Pirate’s Dilemma launch party…

7. Fake/Real/Fake Handbags

Fake louis V

Like Barry, these handbags are actually pretty cool. These real Louis Vuitton “Speedy” bags branded “FAKE” by Korean artist Zinwoo Park went on show back in January at an exhibit on Andy Warhol and Korean pop art at Ssamzie Gallery. Of course, the pretend fake handbags were photographed and quickly pirated, and fake “FAKE” Louis Vuitton speedies are now all over the shop.

Swapmeet Louis

Given the spirit of the whole thing, it’s hard to know which is more authentic – the real fake bags or the fake fake bags? As Susan Scafidi notes on her great blog, Warhol would probably have gone for the latter.

8. Fake Celebrity Perfume (complete with ad campaign)

Fake Mariah Ad

At some point in our lives, many of us are conned into buying a bottle of out-of-date battery acid with “Channel No. 5” written on it in marker pen. Perfume pirates don’t offer society a lot of value, but they cost the industry millions. This summer they went even further than usual, and caused a real stink by coming up with a counterfeit ad campaign for Mariah Carey’s new M fragrance.

“An image of MC with her fragrance bottle photoshopped in the corner is being featured on several blogs” said a spokesman for Carey (I love that he calls her “MC”), “and is categorically not the advertisement for her new fragrance, nor is it even remotely close. The real ad for M by Mariah Carey will debut exclusively on TMZ during the second week of August.”

Gisele ad

The fake Mariah ad was actually an old ad featuring Gisele that had been photoshopped. But why would anyone do this? Was the pirate copy of the fragrance being released earlier and in need of some press? Like fake perfume, the whole story smells very fishy…

9. Fake iPods

Fake ipod

This little beauty was spotted by an Inquirer reader in Turkey, and it’s truly amazing. As well as sporting a record button, and an FM radio, it says “IPOD” on it in big turquoise letters, so you’ll never forget what it is!

Why didn’t the real Steve Jobs think of that?

Or the fake one for that matter…

10. Last but not least… the iCrack


My favorite forgery is another Apple knock-off, spotted by my good friends at VICE magazine in New York a while back. An unsuspecting hipster was sold a fake G5 laptop in SoHo for $200, allegedly by a passing crackhead, and VICE just happened to see him throw it in the garbage in despair, after he realized he’d been duped. Intrepid newshound Tim Barber picked it up to investigate. “It was way better than we ever imagined. It was a real iBook box, with a bunch of Village Voices for weight and the greatest piece of shit ever made. A fake laptop made of gray garbage bag and cardboard, spray-painted platinum silver and finished with A HAND-PAINTED APPLE LOGO DONE IN WITE-OUT.”

Imitation is often the sincerest form of quackery.

3 Feet High and Driving

Why has every taxi cab in New York…

Say No Go

been turned into a giant album cover for 3ft High and Rising?

3 feet

They look very cool. Apparently it’s a mobile public art project. I thought it was because of what a cab driver does if you try and ask them to take you back to Brooklyn anytime after midnight: they <Hall & Oates sample> "Say No Go." </Hall & Oates sample>

Fighting the Power: Some Strategies Better Than “Don’t Tase Me, Bro!”

Community activism has always been about using information as kung fu, but from charity Taser t-shirts to Burmese bloggers, around the world people are campaigning for social justice perhaps more effectively than ever, using and reusing information in some very unconventional ways…

When The Meme Becomes a Message

While your constitutional first amendment rights are no longer guaranteed as a citizen of the United States, when you are tasered for asking a public servant a perfectly reasonable question, you can guarantee the whole episode will be turned into an MC Hammer remix on Youtube, and whatever you happen to cry out in pain while electricity is coursing through your veins will be on the front of an even more painfully ironic skinny-fit T-shirt in less than 24 hours, available for $17.80. But kudos to the shirtmaker – proceeds made from the sale of the T-shirts is going to help the Jena 6.


D.I.Y. Media Networks vs. Government Censorship

As we speak, more than 10,000 saffron-robed monks in Burma are protesting the oppressive military regime, and some, maybe as many as ten, have died for their cause this morning alone. A similar uprising was brutally crushed in Burma 20 years ago, and thanks to the regime’s veil of secrecy, the Western media was kept in the dark until afterwards.

But this kind of censorship is no longer possible. Burmese citizens are feeding stories to ex-pat bloggers around the world, relaying stories directly from the streets of Rangoon, Mandalay and Pakokku. A Burmese-born blogger Ko Htike, now living in London, publishes pictures, video and information sent to him by a network of underground contacts within the country. “I have about 10 people inside, in different locations. They send me their material from internet cafes, via free hosting pages or sometimes by e-mail,” he told the BBC News website. “All my people are among the Buddhists, they are walking along with the march and as soon as they get any images or news they pop into internet cafes and send it to me.” Using information from sources such as Ko Htike, the Democratic Voice of Burma radio station is able to broadcast news back into Burma from its base in Oslo, Norway, and has been doing so since 1992, giving the people of Burma a voice and hope for the future.

Keeping Them Honest With Tech Mash-ups

People worry about Big Brother, but often forget the awesome combined-power of Little Brother: The Voltron-esque might of millions of connected citizens now able to keep the powers-that-be in check. The President of Tunisia, for example, probably didn’t fear Google Earth, digital cameras or YouTube until a video surfaced about who was using the Tunisian presidential airplane. Although the President has been only out of the country officially three times in the last few years, his plane was been mysteriously seen all over Europe, like a UFO with diplomatic plates. People took photos and uploaded them to the net, and before you could say Candid Camera, Tunisians began asking questions about whether the taxpayer-funded plane is being used for vacations or shopping trips on the hush hush. It was a bit like getting caught using your dad’s car without asking. Except your dad is an entire nation, the car is a plane, and you’re not a teenager, but a president with some explaining to do…

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