Pirates of the Amazon


Timo Klok, Tobias Leingruber




A Firefox add-on that includes a “Download 4 Free” button to product pages. Clicking on the button leads the user to The Pirate Bay online index where the browser product, if found, can be downloaded for free.

The add-on in use on


One day after the plugin was released, Amazon lawyers sent a take down request to the creator of the plugin.


It was a practical experiment on interface design, information access and currently debated issues in media culture. We were surprised by the attentions and the strong reactions this project received. Ultimately, the value of the project lies in these reactions. It is a ready-made and social sculpture of contemporary internet user culture.

"Via its provider, the project received a take down request by the lawyers of yesterday. In our point of view, the legal grounds for that are contestable since the add-on itself did not download anything. It only provided a user interface link between the web sites and Nevertheless, the creators complied to the request, taking both the add-on and original web site offline.

What is perhaps more disturbing however, are the openly hostile and aggressive Internet user comments in blogs and on Unlike in a comparable situation only a couple of years ago, the majority of commentators failed to see the highly parodistic and artistic nature of "Pirates of the Amazon". The project was created by two students at the Media Design M.A. department of the Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam, one of them being a student in the course, the other being an exchange student from the New Media programme of Merz Akademie Stuttgart. The work was part of a regular trimester project. We - jaromil, the project tutor, and Florian Cramer, the head of the course - were the academic supervisors of this work. We supported and encouraged it from its early beginnings. What's more, we're proud to have such students and such interesting work coming out of our teaching.

Apart from its humorous value and cleverness, the project is interesting on many levels and layers: For example, not just as a funny artistic hack of and The Pirate Bay, but also as a critique of mainstream media consumer culture creating the great "content" overlap between the two sites. We clearly see this project as a practical media experiment and artistic design investigation into the status of media creation, distribution and consumption on the Internet.

With the take down notice from, our students have been scared
away from pursuing their art, research and learning in our institute. We do not want a culture in which students have to preemptively censor their study because their work confronts culture with controversial and challenging issues." — Excerpt from the email sent to nettime mailinglist by Florian Cramer & Jaromil





Amazon, The Pirate Bay

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Pirates of the Amazon abandon ship” by Brad Stone,, December 5, 2008.


access, context, control, distribution, interface, mediation, piracy, reception