The Piracy Project is an international publishing and exhibition project exploring the philosophical, legal and practical implications of book piracy and creative modes of reproduction.
The Central Saint Martins Byam Shaw Library was threatened to be shut down, to become a tomb of books, inaccessible to its users. It is one of many cases in which crucial creative and cultural facilities are falling victim to current austerity politics. Due to an immediate response by students, staff and AND publishing ( a platform exploring print on demand technologies and publishing conceptually driven artists’ books) the library remains open.
Part of this is The Piracy Project, which is inspired by book piracy that exists in many emerging countries. This phenomenon has reached global scale, 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. All the books, in a sense, become legitimate versions.
This 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-organising / manipulating of already existing works. Here creativity and originality sit not in the borrowed material itself, but in the way they are handled. We are interested in the whole spectrum of appropriation and copying, which Karsten Schubert describes as ranging from “mechanical or rote copying, graduating to knowledgeable reworking and culminating in innovative recasting”. (Karsten Schubert, Daniel McClean ed. (2002) Dear Images, Art Copyright and Culture, Ridinghouse, 2002, page 27)