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03 September, 2010

Internet Piracy and Freedom of Expression (and South Park)

We always talk about internet piracy in negative connotations,but let’s try and talk about the positive effects of internet piracy in the context of freedom of expression. Internet Piracy is able to widen the audience for any work of art and is able to penetrate many barriers, for instance state borderlines. It can become an alternate distribution channel because of that, mainly in countries with a powerful censorship. Illegality of this activity goes aside in that case in my opinion. What is interesting, it can play a positive role even in USA, country we do not associate with a strong censorship.


Two episodes of famous South Park (200 and 201) were censored in USA by the company Comedy Central that has the rights for the show. We are unable to stream them on the official South Park site even though we can stream all the other episodes. 200 and 201 made fun of censorship and religion – Buddha is an addict in those episodes and Muhammad can be seen only as a black box with a word “censored” written on top of it (remember Muhammad cartoons?). Comedy Central was threatened after screening the first episode and afterwards it forbid any other release of those two episodes.


Luckily, we are able to find those two episodes on sites like rapidshare.com. Freedom of expression was achieved only because of internet piracy, censorship was overpowered by internet piracy. There are positive effects of internet piracy. And there is a censorship in modern countries too. Watch out for the blog entry by Martina Portelli.