Judex Statement to Karagarga

Jun 22nd, 2015
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  1. A message from Judex to Karagara members and administrators
  3. 20 June 2015. Updated 21 June
  4. Again 22 June (see notes at end)
  5. Again 24 June, twice (final 4 paragraphs and notes)
  6. Again 3 July (final 5 paragraphs after previous update)
  8. Read by an additional 1500+ readers at an earlier URL that was closed.
  11. @JudexRedux
  14. Your callous greed has made you exploit the independent and foreign filmmakers you profess to love. Your omnivorous consumption is a perverse manifestation of the consumer society you profess to hate.
  16. Your rapacious pillage of film culture is annihilating that culture. Only the rich and powerful will survive the assault online piracy is inflicting on cultural production today. Judex has shut down your site. If you attempt to resume the theft of work by independent and foreign filmmakers, the wretched of today’s digital planet, Judex will avenge them more severely.
  18. Independent creators do not, should not, toil to provide you with free entertainment. Why do you steal work available for purchase in the open marketplace if you do not steal your clothes or food or computers? Are independent filmmakers more your enemy than importers of clothing made by exploited foreign workers, giant purveyors of factory-food, or the IT barons who sit atop the 1% and make the electronic devices you view our work on?
  20. Judex recently received these words from an independent filmmaker whose work you steal. Consider them carefully:
  22. "People don’t realise that their stealing will eventuate in lack of decent independent academic or artistic work. With all government putting an end to any funding and “encouraging” the commercialisation of research and ideas, and of course commercial return impossible due to pirating, more and more people I know have been run into the ground, exhaustion, bankruptcy, even suicide . . . but basically not able to continue dedicated, detailed work. Not able to build on their skills and life experience and practice. In the end we all suffer for it.
  24. Personally, I also have so many stories of the abuse and misrepresentation or theft of my work. When I complain to Google about torrents they don't even respond. I am the distributor for my work everywhere expect North America, so I know what sales are made - and they amount to about 2 per year - TWO. Yet millions of people have seen it and dozens of people write to me about my work annually. If I ask where they saw it they don't reply."
  26. They saw it on Karagarga. Aren’t you proud of your love of independent cinema?
  28. The cinephile world is not one big happy family as Karagarga propaganda has it. Your activities today bear no resemblance to your own mission statement and high-flown rhetoric about “preserving” obscure old films. Nor, especially, to the constant claim that your members buy more than they steal. Most of your users are zealous believers in not paying anything for the music, books and movies they consume and have no interest in your archival pretensions. Why else, for example, would your site be full of recent Criterion DVD releases and recent books, which aren’t even mentioned in your mission statement?
  30. Members of Karagarga - professors, students, critics, festival programmers, cinephiles - consider your actions. Do not support the piracy of recent independent film or work produced by independent labels and publishers.
  32. Yet the entire film community is silent on this issue. It’s because you’re all members of the site. It’s like getting politicians or the police to do something about corruption in a crooked system: they - you - are all on the take. On 17 June Neil McGlone, curator of the Peter von Bagh archives, consultant to Cinema Ritrovato and other festivals, tweeted, in between cushy trips to Finland and Italy, that it was “good to hear that that the site has not gone forever [sic]. It’s such a valuable resource to cinephiles globally.” Upon reading Judex’s statement, he simply deleted his tweet. Where do you stand on this issue Neil? * † How about the Peter von Bagh archives and Cinema Ritrovato? Whose side are you on, the pirates or the independent artists and producers? Cahiers du Cinéma has published a fawning article on Karagarga. Will you be posting all your books there soon? Every issue of your magazine each month?
  34. In previous versions of this statement Judex quoted a tweet by the Argentine critic Diego Brodersen seemingly in support of Karagarga. Mr. Brodersen has since explained that his tweet was a paraphrasing of a Spanish expression and was meant in jest. Judex accepts his explanation and apologizes for the altercation between them that ensued.
  36. Elsewhere on Twitter, since Judex first published this statement on June 20, there has been (in addition to much deleting of tweets from before that date) any number of specious arguments in favor of Karagarga and precious few voices raised against the piracy of commercially available work by independent artists and producers. “Karagarga is an archive; no one there downloads commercially available material; exposure on Karagarga is good for filmmakers; the independent labels support us; piracy isn’t a lost sale because I wouldn’t buy it anyway”: a jumble of nonsense.
  38. Only one person, Doug Dillaman (@dillamonster), without any communication with Judex, has really cut to the heart of the matter. On June 23 he tweeted: “This is not preserving the delicate little near extinction specimens of the cinema undergrowth. This is saving $25 on a Bluray.” And again: “it’s about the very people who should be the last bastion for supporting artists valorizing piracy unconditionally.”
  40. If Karagarga’s administrators launch a new site without eradicating these materials from it you will be setting in motion Cocteau’s infernal machine, which leads only to tragedy. Of that you can be certain. All your safe web hosts and IT smoke and mirrors will not save you. Judex will avenge the digital downtrodden of the earth. You have been warned.
  42. July 3 update:
  44. In an article appearing on July 3 in the right-wing Canadian newspaper The National Post, Calum Marsh deliberately misreads Judex’s statement, misrepresents his views, and does not address the issues raised in his statement.
  46. Marsh writes: “A bit of manufactured intrigue for the bored and curious was even drummed up by a mysterious Twitter user who called himself Judex: he was, he wrote in a widely circulated statement, a filmmaker and distributor owed huge amounts of lost revenue by the ‘millions’ of Karagarga users who had downloaded his work illegally.”
  48. Anyone who has just read the statement above will plainly see that this is not what Judex said or who Judex is. This is pure yellow journalism put out by a hack writer for a right-wing rag founded by Conrad Black (sold only to pay his legal bills to fight his eventual conviction for fraud) and dedicated to protecting the interests of the 1%. Karagarga members aren’t just pirates; they hang out with today’s robber barons.
  50. Calum Marsh also writes: “Early last month Karagarga crashed, and remained down for several weeks. For a while nobody knew quite what happened: routine maintenance, some heard, while others speculated about a transition to new servers. An international anti-piracy body was rumoured to have seized the operation, altered [sic] by an anonymous tip, but nobody could confirm it.” Nonsense. Journalists are supposed to inform people, not confuse them. Karagarga was kicked off its Dutch servers for piracy. Period.
  52. If Karagarga is all about saving obscure and unavailable films, Calum Marsh, why is it full of films that can be purchased on the open market? Why are there no limits to what can be uploaded there?
  54. Signed,
  56. Judex
  58. @JudexRedux
  60. * An earlier version of this statement reported in error that Neil McGlone is a member of FIPRESCI. McGlone has replied on Twitter - Judex cannot reply there in turn as McGlone has blocked him - that he uses Karagarga to view silent film, "much of which is in the public domain." Are any of the versions you view published by DVD labels that have put effort into making them available Neil? They would own the copyright on any such version. Are all the cinpehiles globally you mentioned on 17 June viewing only public domain material do you suppose? On the site you support and belong to? Do you have no views on the matter?
  62. † Neil McGlone has deleted and reposted another round of tweets to Judex, bringing the total to about a dozen. (As Judex writes this he has posted and immediately removed yet another tweet, this one threatening legal action.) He calls the remarks in Judex’s statement “lies.” What exactly is a lie Neil? Your original tweet of 17 June quoted above? Would you like Judex to post a screen shot to his Twitter account for all to see? Just say so and he will. Your affiliation with the Cinema Ritrovato (and Midnight Sun and Nordic) film festivals? Judex didn’t say you were a paid employee; he said that you were a consultant to them. An article you wrote about the 2014 edition of the festival seems to confirm this: “Neil McGlone is agent/representative for Il Cinema Ritrovato’s creative director, [the late] Peter von Bagh and has been involved with both this festival and Midnight Sun Film Festival for the past five years. He is also programme advisor for London’s Nordic Film Festival.” You flatly deny this involvement in your latest tweets, so Judex doesn’t know what to think. What does “involved” mean? Merely a member of the public who buys tickets to films?
  64. You complain that Judex remarked that you lead a cushy life. There was no error, contrary to your tweets, no suggestion you were being put up in swank hotels by festivals. Simply the suggestion that you can afford to buy DVDs. You state that Judex surely thought you were a “big cheese.” Judex knows perfectly well who you are, and average cheeses using Karagarga are much more interesting than big ones. Certainly relatively affluent ones with good jobs and public engagements who feel they can tweet support of a pirate web site. At one point in this statement Judex suggested you were a member of FIPRESCI, a mistake he immediately corrected when you drew it to his attention. About ten people had read the statement in the meantime. Anything else?
  66. Now, to address some more substantial issues. One of your new batch of tweets states “the few silent films I have viewed [on Karagarga] are unavailable & never likely to appear on DVD as too obscure.” First this does not quite tally with your enthusiastic tweeting about Karagarga as “such a valuable resource.” But let’s presume you’re a light user, and take your word that all the films you have downloaded there are in the public domain. Even taking into consideration, as Judex mentioned above, that any newly-packaged old film on DVD (restored print, new soundtrack, new subtitles, extras) is under copyright for that edition. But here Karagarga in fact has a strict policy: if a new DVD of a film is released, the inferior old copy, let’s say it is in the public domain (although if so it is also likely available on YouTube and the like, so there is no need to waste valuable downloading “ratio” to obtain it from Karagarga), must be scrubbed from the site and site members who want the film *must* download the brand new edition copyrighted by the new publisher. That’s an interesting policy, no? It forces lovers of old film to break new copyrights. Karagarga, in Judex’s understanding, also forces members to upload as much as they download in order to remain members. There is no free lunch at Karagarga. If Judex is mistaken about this, Neil, or anything else, please, as a member of the site, let him know. (On June 22 Mr. McGlone accepted Judex's explanation and thanked him for this clarification.)
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