by Cory Doctorow
Set in a near future dystopian Britain, Pirate Cinema centers on Trent McCauley. Trent is an average teenage guy, with an obsession for creating movies. Not the regular “point the camera and action!” movies, though. Trent takes footage from old movies (his favorite are old films starring the popular actor, Scot Colford) and splices them together to create a new movie. What Trent does is technically illegal under copyright law. But Trent just can’t stop making his movies, and he knows what he creates are really good. Trent just assumes that since everyone illegally downloads movies, music, and whatever else, as long as he is careful he will be fine. However, Trent is not careful and he gets caught. As punishment, his entire family cannot access the Internet for an entire year. This means his sister can’t do her homework and continue to be an A student, his mom can’t get her medical prescriptions, and worst of all his dad cannot work. Trent is ashamed and feels so guilty that he runs away from home to the streets of London.
One his first day on the streets he meets Jem, a street kid that helps him survive. Jem and Trent actually do pretty well for themselves. They find food for free from the dumpsters of grocery stores and restaurants and they find an abandoned pub that they refurbish and are able to live in (illegally). They are so comfortable, in fact, that Trent is able to start making his movies again and soon he finds himself being recognized in the underground pirating culture of London. Trent’s underground fame, however, gets him involved with a political movement that wants to legalize downloading and copying licensed works for creative use. Is Trent in over his head, or is he just the right person to take this movement all the way to Parliament?
The main focus of this Pirate Cinema is technology, piracy, fair use, and the right to creative expression. However, this novel is packed with a ton of interesting issues. There’s the drama of Trent living on the streets and learning how to survive, the family issues that Trent has to deal with, and there is even a love interest for Trent. You should definitely pick this book up if you are interested in technology, especially when it comes to fair use and creative expression.