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Piracy It's funny.  Laugh. Idle Your Rights Online

$5M In Torrented Files Presented As Art 243

ideonexus snips thus from Wired: "The Art 404 gallery is currently exhibiting a piece by Manuel Palou called '5 Million Dollars, 1 Terabyte' which is a 'sculpture' consisting of a 1 TB external hard drive containing $5,000,000 worth of illegally downloaded files. The hard drive is displayed on a pedestal at the gallery." Adds ideonexus: "There is a PDF of the files stored on the device with links to the torrents." I'd like this to be an exhibit at every trial in which gigantic money damages are claimed for copyright infringement.
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$5M In Torrented Files Presented As Art

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  • In today's news, the RIAA and MPAA have given a generous grant to performance artist "B1ank S1ate" to support his new installation "B1ank S1ate pisses on other artist's hard drive."

  • by esocid ( 946821 ) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:20AM (#37339778) Journal
    as found art?
    • by Eraesr ( 1629799 )
      It strongly reminds me of the concept behind David Bowie's "Outside" album [].

      From that Wikipedia link:

      The liner notes feature a short story by Bowie, the Diary of Nathan Adler, which outlines a somewhat dystopian version of the year 1999 in which the government, through its arts commission, had created a new bureau to investigate the phenomenon of Art Crime. In this future, murder and mutilation of bodies had become a new underground art craze. The main character, Nathan Adler, was in the business of deciding what of this was legally acceptable as art and what was, in a word, trash.

    • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:45AM (#37340108) Journal

      Didn't you read the summary? It's Art 404. 404 is "not found". Therefore it is not found art.

  • First, so the harddrive does not contain files, it contains one file with links to torrent files?

    Second, THAT'S ART?!

    • One could conceivably argue the the content of the drive being worth $5 million is art in that it's an artistic statement.

    • Re:Two questions: (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:28AM (#37339866)

      First, so the harddrive does not contain files, it contains one file with links to torrent files?

      No, the hard-drive contains the actual files in question, the PDF is a separate listing of what files have been downloaded to the drive, and their value IIRC (I can't access the PDF file without my browser crashing as I'm at work and this computer only has Adobe Reader).

      Second, THAT'S ART?!

      Moreso than most things passing as art these days.
      This exhibit actually aims to raise a valid point about piracy.
      By highlighting how trivial it is to cause $5million of "damage" (by certain definitions of that word) and how little effect it actually has, it's supposed to get people questioning the way we deal with infringers.

      • Well, damn...

        If I had mod points you'd get them. I actually disagree with you, but this is still the most pertinent, informative, and insightful comment I've seen on this story so far.

      • But is that art or is it just social commentary?

    • by Scutter ( 18425 )

      First, so the harddrive does not contain files, it contains one file with links to torrent files?

      Second, THAT'S ART?!

      It provoked an emotional response in you and it caused you to talk about it with other people. I'd say that classifies it as art. Maybe not GOOD art, but art nonetheless.

      • By that definition, pretty much all shitty software is art..

      • Most acts of terrorism are therefore art.

        If I bomb an orphanage many people will feel an emotional response and talk about it. Art!

        • Depends whom you ask. The Joker in the first Batman movie certainly took that stance.

          But, in practical terms, you're being obtuse. This exhibit was done as art and is being displayed by a gallery.

          • But, in practical terms, you're being obtuse. This exhibit was done as art and is being displayed by a gallery.

            Hes right, Haedrian. Which is why you shouldn't blow up an orphanage. You should blow up an art gallery. THAT is art....
        • Very true. You can claim it was artful, except that you also have committed several murders and claiming artwork will not help you in court.

          Art is in the eye of the observer. Lot of things can be art, but artistic claim never take you off consequences of your actions.

          • Since when is art about being lawful?

            Much Graffiti is grwat art, but t wouldn't even BE graffiti if it was legal.

        • by gutnor ( 872759 )
          I think we need to modernize Godwin's law to include terrorism to stay relevant in the "post 9/11" world.
      • by Pope ( 17780 )

        Is this supposed to tell me if I'm an art critic or a lesbian, Mr. Decker?

    • Second, THAT'S ART?!

      No...being a snobby, pretentious prick with access to lots of skinny pants is art. Didn't you get the memo?

    • Second, THAT'S ART?!

      If it is, then I've got my own masterpiece right here. I bet I have way more than $5 million on my drive.

      • Yes, but you never thought to call it art until just now. Manuel Palou thought to call it art, so that's why it's art.

        • Exactly! People forget that its not necessarily *what* the art is but rather who did it first. There's a boat-load of abstract art I could replicate and arguably improve upon but it doesn't make it note-worthy because I wasn't the front-runner. This guy made a statement (as much as I think its crap) and was the first to really do it, he deserves the credit for it and any copycats afterward are just pissing in the wind.
    • Second, THAT'S ART?!

      Many people balk at the stuff that is passed as 'art' by contemporary 'artists'. They can fairly call their 'work' art, because the artists have realized that beauty is subjective, and that by definition, everything and nothing is art depending on who you ask. Therefore an 'artist' has the right to call anything they want 'art'.

      A very nice side effect of this definition, in my opinion, is the more subtle point that anyone can also label said 'art' as 'worthless crap' with equal wei
    • It's "conceptual art". I've never really considered that to be visual art. I put conceptual art into the same category as plays and novels, which may be art but it's not visual art. Visual art should be able to be appreciated without first knowing the title or reading some commentary from the artist; that doesn't mean you'll necessarily like it but you can make the attempt to view it for what it is without a tour guide. A blank hard drive on a pedestal will look exactly like this piece of art until you

  • A PDF? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:21AM (#37339782) Journal

    I don't know which is stupider, the concept of the art project, or that they are distributing a list of links over the internet with a PDF file.

    • Re:A PDF? (Score:5, Funny)

      by ifiwereasculptor ( 1870574 ) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:26AM (#37339846)

      The concept is fine. I'm working on a similar project right now. The stupid part is calling it art.

      • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
        At the hackerspace, we agreed on something : If we want to do a useless project that is awesome but too geeky to explain, we will call it art.

        "What if the interlocutor actually knows about art ?"
        "Digital art"
      • The stupid part is calling it art.

        Probably why they've called it "art 404", no?

    • by bfields ( 66644 )

      I don't know which is stupider, the concept of the art project, or that they are distributing a list of links over the internet with a PDF file.

      Well, this is primarily something to be displayed in a gallery so I suppose it makes sense to make something printable that could be stuck on the wall next to it or included in the exhibit catalog, or whatever. And then why not throw it on the web site. This is a problem for you?

      • No, what he means is that the PDF file listing the pirated content contains working links to said pirated contact. It's like a tiny table that lists what it is, where you can get it (tinyurl links to megaupload), how much it's worth, et cetera.

        It does seem a bit weird for them to show you where to pirate the content yourself.

  • by mla_anderson ( 578539 ) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:23AM (#37339814) Homepage
    At current RIAA prices isn't that just two MP3s?
    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      No, this is the sum of the retail prices of things stored on the disk. I am sure that we could make a similar sculpture that, according to RIAA, could solve the US debt crisis.
  • So can I take a shit on a pedestal and call it 'Modern Hollywood' and call it art?

    • You can call it whatever you like.Whether it is "art" as such is really up to other people - but I'm sure you'll be able to find some people who think so.

    • Right after the big ugly art museum was opened in downtown Santa Cruz, or maybe it was just after the sign went up, someone smeared shit all over the sign. I remember seeing it and thinking it was a pretty cool political statement. That building really is a big piece of shit.

    • You could, if you were a hipster living in the right neighborhood and associated with the right people. The problem is that this crowd is unlikely to be sympathetic towards your criticism of Hollywood. Your dump would have to represent some other form of establishment the artsy hipster crowd despises.

  • Uh... art?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:30AM (#37339872)
    I'll say it again (for the thousandth time - and this is entirely subjective but it's still true): THIS ISN'T FUCKING ART!!! What it is, however, is a coherent political statement that actually says something (unlike the proverbial paint thrown on the wall, feces on a Ritz cracker, etc, etc). Imagine that...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)


      So you are saying the downloaded files don't include porn?

    • Re:Uh... art?! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tar-Alcarin ( 1325441 ) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @11:15AM (#37340442)

      So something can be entirely subjective, and at the same time hold some universal truth? That's quite impressive.

      But as for your main point, here's the definition of the concept of art, as quoted from Wikipedia:
      "Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect."

      I'd say; a coherent political statement that says something by means of symbolism, can easily be viewed as art.
      The fact that people are getting quite heated in a discussion about this, I think lends credit to that viewpoint.

      • "Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect."

        In my personal opinion, if an "artist" has to explain the meaning of his "art" to an audience to influence and affect their senses in the way he intended, that's not art.

    • I take it you're not a fan of Pop and Performance Art either. Or poetry for that matter.

    • by bickle ( 101226 )
      Saying something again doesn't mean that you were right.
    • by bfields ( 66644 )


      Shrug. If it's projected on a screen in a movie theater, it's a movie. If it happens on a stage in a theater, let's call it a play. That doesn't make it a good movie, or good theater. If it's stuck on a pedestal in an art gallery, let's call it art, OK? Why is that a problem?

      And personally I think sticking it on a pedestal under a spotlight in an art gallery adds an extra dimension of hilarity to the whole idea. I like it.

    • What it is, however, is a coherent political statement that actually says something

      So is Voltaire's Candide not art either then?
  • Interesting that the artist assigns a value of only $46,000 to the music on the hard drive. It would be interesting to know where that number came from - I presume our dear friends at the RIAA would disagree with the figure.
    • I agree it would be interesting to have two price values. What he would have spent if he had bought the media and then what the *IAA would have claimed the "damages" were in court. I guarantee people would have some raised eyebrows being able to see the difference. Who knows, maybe the project is an incomplete and he's waiting for the *IAA to come after him so he can finish it.
      • I agree, it will only be truly overpriced art once someone has actually tried to purchase, (in this case...use it in legal court) at said value of 5million dollars, vs. the 46,000$.....then it would be true art!

  • by bernywork ( 57298 ) <bstapleton@gmail.cMOSCOWom minus city> on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:32AM (#37339912) Journal

    404 Art.... The file size is 40.4 KB in size.

    Co-incidence? I think not!

  • This is art (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:34AM (#37339942) Homepage Journal

    I know a lot of you are going to protest and complain that this isn't art, much like the protest over that sculpture made of raw meat... but in a sense this really is art because of the people downloading, the controversy over copyright, the flagrant copyright violation involved in the artist downloading these files and presenting them as an artistic work. I think it's commendable, and it definitely involves taking a risk and it does make you feel something, so it's art.

    I didn't say it was good art, but it is art, and I think it's interesting.

    • Much more interesting than your thoughts; If I download the same works and put them on the same drive, will he sue me for copyright infringement?
      • If I download the same works and put them on the same drive

        Kids these days! Not even the slightest bit of originality, sheesh! When we stole copyrighted works, we stole them creatively!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I wish people would stop calling "statements", "art".
      Art is about aesthetics.

      While some art makes a statement, not all art does (for example the mona-lisa), and not everything that makes a statement is art (for example PETA rallies).

      A commodity hard drive containing files, is not art. It can (depending on how it's used) be a statement.

      • Best quote for art I've heard goes something like this: "If you want to make art, don't try to be an artist."
      • by mfh ( 56 )

        Art is about aesthetics.

        You raise the "principles of beauty" argument and you have made a good point, to some extent. How do you explain languished art, art of pain and darkness, art that paints sorrow? Beauty is what triggers a positive emotion so in my opinion, your statement that art is about aesthetics is lacking because it only expresses one of many rich emotions possible to be generated through art. Visual art, feeling art, art of noise; these are the contrasts of art and each has a place. To suggest

  • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:34AM (#37339948) Homepage

    I'd like this to be an exhibit at every trial in which gigantic money damages are claimed for copyright infringement.

    Why? What relation does the exhibit have to a civil regarding copyrights? Or do you think wasting the judge's time will work in favor of the defense?

    I've seen crime scene photos displayed in a gallery as art. Do you think those should be exhibits at the trial? (Obviously the crime scene photos are evidence. I mean, the particular fact that the photos could be displayed as art, is that relevant to the trial?)

    "See judge, the blood splatter is art. Therefor this killing was not a crime!"

    Unless you're going the other way, and saying, if anyone should have to pay big money for copyright infringement, it should be the pretentious arsehole who tries to pass off a commodity hard drive as art.

    In that, I'm with you 100%.

    • I think this jab was intended to point out the "unbelievable value" of what we regard as a simple object, as if to demonstrate the absurdity in a pile of sand being imbued with $5M worth of value... Sure, it's a normal object and sure, it was easy to (illegally, in the case of the hard drive) obtain. Does that stop it from having significant worth?

      To counter I would say, where is the "art" exhibit containing a group of programmers who work 40 hours/week for a company for nothing in return due to the premi

  • howzabout 75 trillion dollars! []?
    Then you could call it social commentary on the insanity of the ??AAs.
  • Perhaps I should do an art exhibit consisting of a cheque for $1mill and say "this should be at all trials where someone is accused of fraud or embezzelment!".

    We haven't been a society where the physical size of something, or even the workmanship of the product represents its financial value. Modern artists of all people should know that.
  • ...when art required skill and not just a (debatable) amount of vision and/or insight.

    People are doing a disservice to real artists when they label stuff like this "art."
    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Which particular time are you thinking of?

      Good art has always required both skill and luck. And even then much of the best art was not at first accepted by those who experienced it as art...and definitely not as good art.

      So don't rush to judgment. I'm not sure I consider this art, but I'm also not sure that it isn't.

      Remember, art is not craftsmanship. They are orthogonal concepts. This clearly isn't craftsmanship, but it might be art. It might even be good art. Another concept is involved her, design,

  • Forge a cheque for 14 trillion dollars made out to U S Treasury from the personal checking account of Steven Colbert. Encase it in clear plastic and claim it is art.
  • Cool.

    Can I hook up my laptop to it and copy the files? That way, the drive will be worth even more money because I'm duplicating the files.

    If everybody does this, then the exhibit can be renamed '5 Trillion Dollars' (pinky on mouth).

  • by bistromath007 ( 1253428 ) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @11:08AM (#37340358)
    Then I looked at the pdf. I can see that he chose which files he'd download very carefully. This isn't $5M of effortless movie and music grabbing. The first section of the list is several software tools that have outrageous license prices, like AutoCAD. Crown jewel of the collection: eight years of fiction books, $3M. It is literally an order of magnitude larger than the next largest thing on the list. This work shows how kinds of knowledge and culture that we don't spend a bunch of money and time arguing about in court have been affected by our banged up ideas about IP rights.

    This is a work of art.
  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @11:11AM (#37340400)

    RIAA claims a 5.000.000USD tax reduction because of donations to an arts project.

  • Lets have some differentiation. It may be a political statement but its not art.

    How can this be put in the same category as a painting by a great master?

    I long for a return to the time when great art and music means something produced by someone with a unique genius or at least a skill that took and decades to perfect, not something that is just all about an idea and not its execution. Where's the value in something that any of us could make in a few minutes?

  • I like the message, and whilst I doubt it will serve as a reality check to the IP holders, I think it is a point well made.

    Also I was wondering if I was the only one suddenly compelled to go and locate a torrent of the "$20,000" font pack.

  • I'd like this to be an exhibit at every trial in which gigantic money damages are claimed for copyright infringement.

    So would the attorneys for the plaintiff.

    The geek casts himself as the hero in his own courtroom melodrama. In the real world, the jury is more likely to see him as a candidate a stout oak and thirty feet of hemp.

    American juries are middle-aged, middle-class, small-C Conservative and firmly of the opinion that property rights matter, that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

    The geek's sense of entitlement really pisses them off.

  • I have 2TBs. I'm twice as arty.
  • Another moron who thinks that calling something *art* changes what it is. But, I sincerely hope this fool gets his wish and his art *is* subpenaed into maybe a hundred cases where he's called as a witness.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito