illegal copy in Mars & Medak 2019


is not that different from the requirement of formal freedom that
is granted to a laborer to contract out their own labor-­power as a
commodity to capital, giving capital authorization to extract maximum productivity and appropriate the products of the laborer’s
labor.6 Copyright might be just a more efficient mechanism of
exploitation as it unfolds through selling of produced commodities
and not labor power. Art market obscures and mediates the
capital-­labor relation
When we talk today of illegal copying, we primarily mean an
infringement of the legal rights of authors and publishers. There’s an
immediate assumption that the infringing practice of illegal copying
and distribution falls under the domain of juridical sanction, that it is
a matter of law. Yet if we look to the history of copyright, the illegality
of copying was a political matter long before it became a legal one.
Publisher’s rights, author’s rights, and mechanisms of reputation—­
the three elements that are fundamental to the present-­day
copyright system—­all have their historic roots in the context of
absolutism and early capitalism in seventeenth-­and eighteenth-­
centur


illegal copy in Medak 2016


se publishers and their control
over the moral economy of reputation in academia, the public disservice that
they do cannot be addressed within the historic ambit of copyright. It
requires politicization.

## _Of Law and Politics_

When we look back on the history of copyright, before there was legality there
was legitimacy. In the context of an almost completely naturalized and
harmonized global regulation of copyright the political question of legitimacy
seems to be no longer on the table. An illegal copy is an object of exchange
that unsettles the existing economies of cultural production. And yet,
copyright nowadays marks a production model that serves the power of
appropriation from the author and market power of the publishers much more
than the labor of cultural producers. Hence the illegal copy is again an
object begging the question as to what do we do at a rare juncture when a
historic opening presents itself to reorganize how a good, such as knowledge
and culture, is produced and distributed in a society. We are at such a
juncture, a juncture where the regime regulating legality and illegality might
be opened to the questioning of its legitimacy or illegitimacy.

1. Jump Up For a more detailed account of this development, as well as for the history of printing privilege in Great B


illegal copy in Stalder 2018


"shadow libraries" have been
popping up everywhere; the latter are not accessible to the public but
rather to members, for instance, of closed exchange platforms or of
university intranets. Few seminars take place any more without a corpus
of scanned texts, regardless of whether this practice is legal or
not.[^22^](#c2-note-0022){#c2-note-0022a}

The lines between these different mechanisms of access are highly
permeable. Content acquired legally can make its way to file-sharing
networks as an illegal copy; content available for free can be sold in
special editions; content from shadow libraries can make its way to
publicly accessible sites; and, conversely, content that was once freely
available can disappear into shadow libraries. As regards free access,
the details of this rapidly changing landscape are almost
inconsequential, for the general trend that has emerged from these
various dynamics -- legal and illegal, public and private -- is
unambiguous: in a comprehensive and practical sense, cul

 

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