Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow follows the story of young Trent McCauley, a savvy and intelligent student who enjoys remixing videos from footage he downloads. In the near-future dystopian Britain in which he lives, this practice is highly illegal, however Trent thinks he is too smart to be caught by the powerful government. He turns out to be wrong and, when his family’s internet access is cut off for a year as punishment, he runs away from home to live on the streets of London.
There, he meets a group of young people who are protesting a new bill that will make even less-harmful copyright infringement illegal, and decides to create a film of his own to convince the people of Britain to fight back against this dangerous new legislation.
I very much enjoyed this book as a warning against what could happen if laws and lawmakers are not kept in check. This novel features extreme corruption of the legal process, as relatively harmless crimes are punished very severely, something which could plausibly happen in the near future or, by some accounts, is even happening already. It also provides excellent explanations of the political and corporate issues at hand here, such as the legal powers of companies, the necessity of copyright laws in total, and government corruption. I must note, however, that this book is very bigoted in its various arguments.
It is very clear that the author is completely against strong copyright laws and it is important to note that the book leans towards it in all aspects. Those who disagree will most likely be put off by the strength of Doctorow’s conviction about these matters, so this book may not be for everyone.
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in technology, technology law, and science fiction as a genre. It is clearly written for a young adult audience, but I feel it can be enjoyed by older readers as well.