2022-08-17 05:04:17
Pirates of the Internet movies

Narodowy Instytut Audiowizualny

The fifth in the Culture 2.0 series entitled “Pirates of the Internet. Cinema, Law and Culture” was devoted to the changes in today’s cinematography, particularly as affected by the Internet. Special guests included: Jakub Duszyński, Artistic Director of Gutek Film, Dawid Marcinkowski, a director and creator of Sufferrosa, an internet interactive film, and Krzysztof Siewicz, a lawyer with the Grynhoff Woźny & Maliński law office and a legal coordinator of Creative Commons Polska.

Jakub Duszyński opened the meeting with a description of how his attitude to copying films on the Internet has changed. Two years ago he wrote a letter to sites, which provided access to Polish film subtitles, where he accused them of acting to the detriment of cinematography, and particularly of distributors of ambitious cinema, such as Gutek Film. He regarded the translators themselves as members of a partisan culture movement based on ‘pure idealism’ and condemned subtitle providers, for deriving financial gain from advertising. Duszyński referred to the activity of peer-to-peer sites as a ‘leak’, which drove film fans away from the official commercial film circuit. Today, however, he explained that his approach to Internet exchange has changed drastically. Conscious of the existence of the two different, indeed, incompatible worlds, he noted that as a representative of one of them he saw no point in warring against the other, despite the fact that the latter was in competition (often illegal) with official distributors. His view stemmed from the fact that distributors, bound by restrictions of the system of intellectual property, can barely compete with sites which offer immediate access. Duszyński admitted that he was fascinated by the energy and dedication of the people involved in the second, Internet, cinematographic circuit. Meanwhile, he saw that in times of interregnum, which has prevailed, the solution to the problem is still unknown.

The debate that followed hinted at possible solutions. Firstly, Duszyński talked of the role of film festivals as events which offered experiences that could not compare with downloading films off the Internet. Secondly, according to the other guests, the distributors could still play a role of filters and guides.

Dawid Marcinkowski talking about his interactive Internet film entitled Sufferrosa followed Duszyński’s presentation. The film is an interesting example of cinema made professionally yet functioning in the non-commercial circuit, usually associated with amateur activity. Firstly, free internet access is its only distribution channel. But most importantly, as Marcinkowski pointed out, the film had come to being thanks to a flexible collaboration of artists who communicated via the Internet and exchanged thoughts on a friendly basis. Their informal relations made it possible to solve issues of copyright to the individual works which make up the film. The story of Sufferrosa reinforces Duszyński’s view that Internet film communities play a key role in today’s cinematography. Sufferrosa, which borrows from many other works, is a prime example of how professionals can use the mechanisms of fan art.

Krzysztof Siewicz’s talk on how the legal system lags behind the changes in the world of film completed the views presented by the two previous speakers, a distributor and an artist. According to Siewicz, the present legal model treats authors as small children who need support from intermediaries, as in the case of general management organizations representing artists. Meanwhile in times, when the number of authors is increasing rapidly since the creative work is often written into the process of receiving it, the system is causing friction; because it does not acknowledge a situation where thanks to the Internet the author manages without the help of intermediaries. So, Siewicz showed that the unofficial system Duszyński had been talking about did not merely entail people passively participating in the world of cinema, but it was also a system of grass-roots cinematographic artistic work.

A screening of the Steal This Film 2 documentary wrapped up the meeting. The authors of the film aim to show that it is possible to treat copying as a basic cultural activity; which explains how crucial the Internet and peer-to-peer networks are nowadays. Statements from leading activists for the reform of copyright laws as well as representatives of ‘pirate’ groups rounded up the discussion.

Alek Tarkowski

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