The Pirate Mode of Production: Intellectual Property and Labor under Neoliberal Restructuring

Gavin Mueller

Advisor: Paul Smith, PhD, Cultural Studies Program

Committee Members: JP Singh, Char Miller

Enterprise Hall, #318
April 14, 2016, 10:30 AM to 07:30 AM


Media piracy -- the production, distribution and consumption of media texts in contravention of intellectual property laws -- has become an endemic feature of the cultural economy since the rise of the Internet. While most analyses present piracy in moral or legal terms, this work seeks to situate piracy as a series of practices emerging from the contradictions of a specific political and economic conjuncture: post-Fordist arrangements operating under neoliberal forms of governance. By examining the changing face of work as it becomes more embedded in digital networks, more entrepreneurial and increasingly informalized, piracy appears as an ambivalent component of global media supply chains and technological development. Beyond simply a symptom of economic crisis, pirate social formations construct their own distinct political philosophies and cultural practices. In this analysis, piracy is one component of broader social struggles against capitalist restructuring in the digital era.