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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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I am absolutely delighted to announce that, today, the 15th December 2021 marks the publication of my eighth academic book: Warez: The Infrastructure and Aesthetics of Piracy. The book will be available to buy in print, but it’s already available, open access, to download from the OAPEN library.

Here’s the blurb:

When most people think of piracy, they think of Bittorrent and The Pirate Bay. These public manifestations of piracy, though, conceal an elite worldwide, underground, organized network of pirate groups who specialize in obtaining media – music, videos, games, and software – before their official sale date and then racing against one another to release the material for free. Warez: The Infrastructure and Aesthetics of Piracy is the first scholarly research book about this underground subculture, which began life in the pre-internet era Bulletin Board Systems and moved to internet File Transfer Protocol servers (“topsites”) in the mid- to late-1990s. The “Scene,” as it is known, is highly illegal in almost every aspect of its operations. The term “Warez” itself refers to pirated media, a derivative of “software.” Taking a deep dive in the documentary evidence produced by the Scene itself, Warez describes the operations and infrastructures an underground culture with its own norms and rules of participation, its own forms of sociality, and its own artistic forms. Even though forms of digital piracy are often framed within ideological terms of equal access to knowledge and culture, Eve uncovers in the Warez Scene a culture of competitive ranking and one-upmanship that is at odds with the often communalist interpretations of piracy. Broad in scope and novel in its approach, Warez is indispensible reading for anyone interested in recent developments in digital culture, access to knowledge and culture, and the infrastructures that support our digital age.

My thanks are already in the acknowledgements of the book, but I wanted to, first, thank my funders at Leverhulme who made this work possible. It has taken me eight years to write this book (although I have written many more in between) and the Leverhulme Prize gave me the time I needed to get it over the finish line. At 445 pages, it’s also the longest book I have ever written.

I would also like to commend punctum books, my publisher. (I should note, also, that I am Executive Board Member of punctum. However, my book went through all the usual review channels and this in no way influenced that process.) Vincent, Eileen, and Lily encouraged me in this project and worked extensively on its review, production, and dissemination.

As when I worked with another ScholarLed press, Open Book Publishers, I had a really terrific experience with punctum. One of the really brilliant parts is speed. I finished proof corrections on this just a week and half or so ago. It’s now available. Also, the care that Vincent put into the design, layout, and production was superb. The turnarounds on peer review – which yielded some really helpful insights – was also great, although, of course, this is dependent on external readers helping as they claim when asked, which cannot be guaranteed. The copyeditor, Lily Brewer, had to get their head around an incredibly challenging new computational context but did a truly excellent job at questioning my assumptions, regularizing the style, and generally bringing the whole thing to fruition.

So here’s the plug: if you can support punctum books (and Open Book Publishers) via a membership, please do!

The book is also now available in print at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

In the meantime, I think this will call for a celebration tonight…