Rewinding briefly to Ars Electronica just to share the best definition of Piratbyrån I’ve heard formulated in the English language:
Piratbyrån (The Piracy Bureau) is not an organization but an on-going conversation on copyright, file-sharing and digital culture. Over the last six years Piratbyrån has been able to create a discursive space that enables individual and collective actors to be heard, and to significantly expand the range of opinions entering the public debate regarding copyright. To advance this conversation, they have been using a wide range of innovative, experimental, often humorous techniques – as well as traditional means such as public discussions, interviews and publications.
The resulting debate has been multi-layered ranging from the technological (e.g. The Pirate Bay) to the artistic (e.g. a bus tour through Europe to Manifesta 08) to the political (e.g. Pirate Party). With very limited resources, Piratbyrån has been able to galvanize a political movement that has already shaped the development of digital culture and public policy in Sweden and across Europe, pushing the boundaries of the possible.
Piratbyrån aims at nothing less than to fundamentally question the most basic categories – e.g. the distinction between the producer and the consumer – through which we understand culture in order to investigate if and how these apply to the digital condition.
Piratbyrån does not claim to offer a solution to this extremely complex issue; indeed, it questions the assumption that copyright offers a one-size-fits all solution to cultural production, which now needs to be replaced with another unified solution. All of this has been done with great dedication and under considerable personal risk, yet they never forget that humor and irony are among the strongest weapons available to cultural producers.
This was the motivation from jury member David Sasaki for giving an award of distinction to Piratbyrån in the “digital communities” category of Prix Ars Electronica. After that, the word was given to me for a brief talk on the dilemma in receiving 5000 euro to an informal project.