The Politics of Vibration: Music as a Cosmopolitical Practice

Catherine Christer Hennix, “A non unique extraordinary set, 1973”
“The (MA-) Gap Theorem [Re : Yoga-57/L’etourdi]” 2021
Photo: Amadeo Schwaller

The universe vibrates. My new book, The Politics of Vibration: Music as a Cosmopolitical Practice, which will be published by Duke University Press in summer 2022, sets out a model for thinking about music as emerging out of a politics of vibration. It focuses on the work of three contemporary musicians — Hindustani classical vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, Swedish drone composer Catherine Christer Hennix and Houston-based hip-hop creator, DJ Screw, each emerging from a different but entangled set of musical traditions or scenes, whose work is ontologically instructive. Three musics characterized by slowness, much of the time then. From these particular cases, the book expands in the direction of considering the vibrational nature of music more generally. The book looks at a variety of musical examples including a Ryan Driver/Sandro Perri concert in a park in Scarborough, ethnomusicologist Jose Maceda observations concerning traditional Philippine musical instruments, Sri Karunamayee’s mental ladder of scales, Keiji Haino’s ideas of vibrational space, love and death according to Prince, Frankie Knuckles’ first visit to The Loft, Moroccan gnawa musicians in the Djemaa al Fnaa in Marrakech, John Coltrane’s famous sleevenotes to A Love Supreme, Earl Sweatshift’s alchemization of depression, and a performance by flamenco/folk master Peter Walker.

Vibration is understood in multiple ways, as a mathematical and a physical concept, as a religious or ontological force, and as a psychological/psychoanalytic determinant of subjectivity.  The organization of sonic vibration that is determinant of subjectivity, a.k.a. music, is understood to be pluralistic and modal — and topological rather than phenomenological or time-based. And understanding what music is means shifting our understanding of what space is.  I argue that music needs to be understood as a cosmopolitical practice, in the sense of the word “cosmopolitics” recently introduced by Isabelle Stengers — music can only be understood in relation to the worlding and forms of life that are permitted in a society, and according to decisions that a society makes concerning access to vibrational structure. I reconsider the ontology of music in the light of the practices of contemporary musicians, and I try to open up what the possibilities for a free music in a free society would be. 

Even after finishing writing the book, I still find it hard to describe what I’ve written. The above paragraph is one version of it — and describes a kind of philosophical project, but the book is a lot more personal than that, since it also describes my own life, participation in different music scenes, shit that has happened, to me and those around me. And above all, the book also describes a kind of apprenticeship in music and philosophy via my introduction to the music of Pandit Pran Nath in the late 1990s, and the music and philosophy of Catherine Christer Hennix, who was a student of Pran Nath’s, in the early 2000s. While Hennix’s work has recently gained some attention thanks to Blank Forms’ publication of her selected writings in Poesy Matters/Other Matters, and various archival and new audio releases, the full complexity of Hennix’s brilliant ideas and sonic practices has not until now been documented.  Hennix’s work is challenging and requires study and attention to understand her full vision of what music, mathematics, sound and ontology can do.  In this book I describe  my own studies and conversations with students of Pran Nath’s  — and years of study and dialogue with Hennix. And I apply Hennix’s insights to musical worlds different to her own — showing how versatile and powerful and challenging her ideas are.  What emerges is an idea of music as pragmatic but cosmopolitically entangled improvisation in a universe made of vibration. I explore these ideas in relation to the Black radical tradition and Houston based DJ Screw’s chopped and screwed sound.   This book is also my own improvisation, in words, in that entangled universe. It is also about breaks, breaks in symmetry which give everything their particular finite forms, musical breaks and the power of repetition, mathematical modelling and its intersection with human fragility and finitude, but also the incredible breakage of/in my own world, the music scenes that I find around me, and in the lives of musicians who have cosmopolitical ambitions.  This book offers a broken ontology of music — and I still don’t know if it could be otherwise.

The Book of Methods: Selected Writings on the Cut Up by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin

Brion Gysin, “The Book of Methods”, circa 1962, Musée d’Art Moderne, Ville de Paris

I’ve been working with my friend Davis Schneiderman for a number of years on a new edition of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin’s writings on the cut up. Later this year, University of Minnesota Press will publish the fruits of that research — encompassing a new edition of their classic text on the topic, The Third Mind, which will be a facsimile of the mythical unpublished 1970 Grove Press edition of that text, together with a companion volume called The Book of Methods, which will collect various key writings and statements from Burroughs and Gysin on the cut up, made over the course of their decades working together, including many hitherto unpublished texts. We will offer, for the first time, a comprehensive and chronological overview of Burroughs and Gysin’s writings on the cut up.

The Third Mind, by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, is a strange and enigmatic book. Long out of print after a single American edition in 1978, this eclectic offering of instructions for a material revolution has had a lasting influence on everything from punk and cyberpunk to appropriation art, new media theory and conceptual literature. The Third Mind continues to have new things to say to a generation of artists and thinkers who not only use cut-ups and fold-ins, cut-and-paste, collage and montage practices just as earlier writers used “plot” and “character,” but who also—in the present—deploy strategies from The Third Mind as a way to reveal the ubiquity of practices of collage and cut up in mainstream digital culture. Indeed, arguably we live in a moment where the cut up has triumphed — but unconsciously so, in our fragmented attention spans, our cynicism concerning the mediation of truth, and the ease with which text and image are converted to data and back again.  

In The Book of Methods, a companion to The Third Mind, we propose a radical rereading of Burroughs’ and Gysin’s cut-up practices, drawing on hitherto unavailable materials by both Burroughs and Gysin, presenting the core of Burroughs’ and Gysin’s collaborative works anew for the age of digital media and the global society of the spectacle — complete with post cut up practices that include deepfakes, mass media simulation, and AI.

What is a cut up? Gysin discovered the technique in his studio in Paris in 1958, when he sliced through a newspaper and realized that by reading across the cut to a now exposed adjacent page, a new, “random” text was generated, with a new meaning.  This cut quickly turned into an intense exploration, by both Gysin and Burroughs, of the possibilities for permutating and generating texts via processes of cutting and rearrangement. And these practices were then applied to visual images, sound recordings, film and other media.  While Tristan Tzara claimed to Gysin that he was not doing anything that the dadaists hadn’t already done in World War I, Burroughs and Gysin’s ideas about the value of the cut up went far beyond Tzara’s.  Burroughs in particular rapidly developed ideas of human consciousness as a cut up (in part via his involvement in Scientology), sexuality as a cut up (via the pornographic fragmentation of the drive) and reality itself as cut up (“nothing here but the recordings”). 

The Book of Methods also tells the story of Burroughs and Gysin’s friendship, both in terms of their collaboration on a book expounding the cut up as method or practice, but also in terms of the ill fated publishing history of the book, which was about to be published as early as 1965, again in 1970, at varying times in the early 1970s — and then finally in 1978, at a point where much of the material was almost 20 years old. As the 1960s turned into the 1970s, Gysin’s mail to Burroughs often features an increasingly anguished “What of THE THIRD MIND??”

The cut up was untimely — but in fact 1978 was a moment where an international post-punk fan base interested in media experimentation, whether Kathy Acker, or Throbbing Gristle or the graffiti artist Rammellzee, were very much ready to respond to Burroughs’ and Gysin’s work.

The Third Mind/Book of Methods also tells a story of the importance of the Beats’ European connections and extensions, from the cut up’s genesis in the Beat Hotel on Rue Git le Coeur in Paris, to the various European writers and artists who took up the cut up, from Jeff Nuttall, to Claude Pélieu and Mary Beach, to Carl Weissner and Udo Breger — and to Gérard-Georges Lemaire, the Paris based art critic and translator of a number of Burroughs’ works, who first assembled with Brion Gysin, the texts that would compose the first actually published The Third Mind in the 1976 French book, Oeuvre croisée.

Franz Thalmair’s Marcus Boon, In Praise of Copying (Berlin, Revolver, 2019)

A few years ago, Franz Thalmair wrote me to tell me that he was in the process of making a hand made copy of my book In Praise of Copying.  I didn’t quite know what to make of such a project, but Thalmair would send me regular updates as to how it was going … and then one day he finished. 

This hand made copy was then copied again and turned into the book Marcus Boon, In Praise of Copying (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), 1 – 285, which was recently published by Revolver Publishing in Berlin.  Thalmair recently sent me a copy.  It is a strange and beautiful object.  The typeface is a little blurry, as if slightly out of focus, imitating the stereotypical relationship of copy to original as having lost something, being a mere copy, ephemeral, slightly unfaithful to or divergent from the original.  On the other hand, Thalmair’s careful tracing practice reintroduces a practice of uniqueness, originality, authenticity that turns the copy of the book that Thalmair was working with, a multiple, whether in pdf or print form, back into a unique object, with a Benjaminian aura, that fuzziness or haziness that marks it off as being the product of a certain time and place, and a certain kind of awe inspiring patience and manual labor too.  But then this “original copy” is in turn copied and reproduced in an edition of 250 copies, the glossy paper allowing for an accurate facsimile of the hand produced tracing, and a grey border on each page framing the pages as being a visual object as much as a “book page”. 

Thalmair told me that he copied passages that he had tagged or that he was interested in.  At first glance, this makes the book feel like an erasure project, in which the gaps or spaces or silences encroach on the text. But Franz told me that he regarded the practice as containing a trace of his reading — and in that sense, the gaps seem less significant, and the text itself more like a positive memory or trace, as something that remains or has been collated, like a list of quotes. The feeling is uncanny — a rare moment when to read or look at a text is simultaneously to be reading or looking at someone else’s reading of the text. Of course we’re used to such things when we explore the marginalia found in an author’s library — but here the text and the phenomenological act of it being read by another person — and our access to that phenomenological event that belongs to someone else — all coincide. 

Thalmair, who is a writer, curator, editor and professor at the University of Applied Art in Vienna, is co-director of the arts based research project Originalcopy—Post-digital Strategies of Appropriation.  He and Michael Kargl recently put out a beautiful book of the same name containing work related to the project, including essays by myself, Bettina Funcke, Kenneth Goldsmith, Boris Groys, Jussi Parikka.  In the introduction to the book, Thalmair asks: “is it possible to develop a methodology of contemporary copying practices by initiating a copying process that always remains aware of itself? And how can such a loop of thought in the copying process reveal knowledge about the simultaneous omnipresence and invisibility of the phenomenon of the copy, with its deep historical, cultural, and technological roots in society?” For Thalmair, copying can be a performative research practice — as it is with the book described above. 

Practice: Now Published by MIT Press/Whitechapel Gallery of Art

The book on practice that Gabriel Levine and I edited has now been published by MIT Press/Whitechapel Gallery of Art. We think it looks good — a photograph of Francis Alÿs from his famous “Paradox of Praxis” series is on the cover.

We’ll be launching the book at the Whitechapel Gallery of Art in London on April 26, in a conversation with visual artist Kader Attia (whose amazing work on repair is featured at the end of the book) and philosopher Nina Power. There will also be a Berlin launch on April 28 at Hopscotch Books, and a Toronto launch on May 31 at the University of Toronto Art Center, featuring a panel that includes artists Sameer Farooq, Rea McNamara, Su-Feh Lee and Diane Borsato.

MIT has a good description of the book. You can view the table of contents here.  And listen to an hour long conversation about practice that we had with Erik Davis on his excellent Expanding Mind radio show.  Our goal was to open up new ways of thinking about practice and its relationship to art, and even to ask the question whether we were moving into a world where practice is becoming autonomous from art.  We received some sublime responses to the book:

“Boon and Levine have assembled an engaging collection of short essays, manifestos, interviews, impressions and expressions, which together explore the rich density of “practice”. It is about art, and will fascinate anyone who experiences politics, philosophy and everyday life as forms of artistry — as artistic “practices” that repeat, hustle, experiment with, fly free from, and play with established subjectivities, cruelties, virtues. A bracing and marvellous book.” Jane Bennett, Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University

“To move from competency to fluency to freedom takes some practice, but just what that entails — as this volume makes clear — is more than technique. Personal desires comingle with social questions, to that whether working solo or in coalitions of the like-minded, having a practice is always a dynamic process of situating oneself in the world. And as writers from across a wide spectrum offer here, when embodied consciousness and impassioned commitment take hold, practice as a way of working becomes a way of being. Mary Jane Jacob, Director, Institute of Curatorial Research and Practice, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

“Political, philosophical, poetic, aesthetic and critical, Practice will be of great use to anyone working with and thinking about this most dominant (but obscure) of terms. The texts collected here are fresh and provocative. From magic to high art theory, structuralism to anarchism, Boon and Levine have collected the most vital words on the “practical turn” in art, and many other ways of thinking about practice besides.” Nina Power, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Roehampton

Practice: A New Volume in the MIT/Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art Series

Gabriel Levine and I are in the process of editing a new volume in the excellent MIT/Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art book series on the topic of Practice.  The book should be out in early 2018. The book collects writings about practice by philosophers, artists and other kinds of practitioners. There will likely be about 80 selections in the book, including texts by Karl Marx, Paul B. Preciado, the Dalai Lama, Lygia Clark, Group Material and many more.

To quote from an introduction written by Gabe and I: “In the early twenty-first century, no single word crops up in so many contexts – from art to science to theory to politics to everyday life – as “practice.” A central term in the social sciences, from science studies to sociology to media studies, “practice” is often taken for granted and only occasionally explicitly theorized. Artists and non-artists write statements describing “my practice,” while art critics speak of “social practice” or “contemporary practice.” In politics, practice a.k.a. “praxis” is in crisis – caught between old forms of mass struggle and new social movements anchored in the collective practice of daily life. And all of this is occurring on a global scale. Yet in all of these contexts, the layers and histories of “practice” are rarely addressed. What do people talk about when they talk about practice? Is everything a practice – and what are we (diverse humans and nonhumans around the planet) practicing for?

Once used philosophically to designate “doing,” (praxis) in a triad with “thinking” (theoria) and “making,” (poiesis) practice has soaked up other connotations: from political action (revolutionary praxis), to professional activity (the practice of law or medicine), to discipline, rehearsal or training (zen practice, basketball practice). The discourse of practice in contemporary art tends to blend all of these meanings, with “practice” also standing in for the shift away from the artwork or medium, and toward open-ended actions, series, processes and projects. While the turn to “practice” might promise a freedom from finality or eventfulness, it also reflects the neoliberal pressures to train oneself, to perform, and to rehearse a marketable set of skills. On this “planet of the practicing,” as the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk calls it, there are winners and losers, and perhaps those who fail should just have practiced a little harder. Indeed, practice and “praxeology” were central to the work of Austrian school economist Ludwig von Mises, who clearly saw the discipline of economics as a whole as the study of modes of organizing “purposeful action” (Human Action).”

My own work has been focused on the problem of practice for many years. In the 2000s I explored the idea of “sadhana”, the Sanskrit word for practice, and the relation of Asian religions to contemporary literature. I tried to show the varied attempts to reformulate an idea of practice by writers from Europe and America encountering Buddhism and yoga, and how their worldviews were destabilized by a new thought of practice. This work formed the basis of my contribution to Nothing: Three Inquiries in Buddhism (U. Chicago, 2015) as well as various essays on Buddhist topics. It also informed my attempt to develop a Buddhist theory of intellectual property in In Praise of Copying (Harvard, 2010), and my contribution to the shift in studies of IP from legal debates to the study of “practices of copying”. My more recent work on “sound and popular discipline” uses the latter term as a synonym for practice – or praxis, in the sense of collective action. In The Politics of Vibration and other essays and talks, I argue for a rethinking of sound studies that take into account popular practices of sonic production and consumption. The Book of Methods, the co-edited collection of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin’s unpublished writings on the cut up and other radical aesthetic practices, that I’m working on with Davis Schneiderman is also a kind of experimental manual of practices. I might even claim that my work on drugs and literature, notably in The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs, addressed the problem of what it might mean to speak of a literary practice, notably insofar as literary drug use has involved formal protocols of experimentation, as in the work of Benjamin, Burroughs and more recently, Preciado.

Moroccan “Trance” Music: A Primer

I wrote a primer on Moroccan “trance” music for the March 2017 issue of The Wire.  The piece is built around the recently issued Dust to Digital set of Paul Bowles’ 1960 recordings made in Morocco, and covers (briefly!) the history of 78 recordings in Morocco, other ethnographic recordings such as those made by Ocora and by Philip Schuyler for Lyrichord in the 1970s and 1980s, the folk revival led by groups like Nass El Ghiwane, Jil Jilala and Lemchaheb in the 1970s, the history of recordings made at Jajouka and of the Gnawa brotherhoods, the long history of collaborations between jazz musicians and Moroccan traditional musicians, from Randy Weston through Peter Brotzmann and Ornette Coleman, the amazing career of Hassan Hakmoun and the more recent metal/noise sounds of Abu Lahab.  I meditate on “trance” as a word and phenomenon that spans both traditional and avant garde musics, secular and sacred sounds, and one that changes historically and geographically in meaning.  Bowles himself preferred the word “hypnotic” because it sounded more secular.  “Psychedelic” might work too.

The essay begins with this amazing quote from Bowles, from his essay “The Rif, To Music”:

“Few of them are as frank about their convictions as the official in Fez who told me: “I detest all folk music, and particularly ours here in Morocco. It sounds like the noises made by savages. Why should I help you to export a thing which we are trying to destroy? You are looking for tribal music. There are no more tribes. We have dissolved them. So the word means nothing. And there never was any tribal music anyway – only noise. Non, monsieur, I am not in accord with your project.”   In reality, the present government’s policy is far less extreme than this man’s opinion. The music itself has not been much tampered with – only the lyrics, which are now indoctrinated with patriotic sentiments. Practically all large official celebrations are attended by groups of folk musicians from all over the country; their travel and living expenses are paid by the government, and they perform before large audiences. As a result the performing style is becoming slick, and the extended forms are disappearing in favour of truncated versions which are devoid of musical sense.”


On the Bowerbird, The Difunta Correa and Some Architectures of Sense, An Interview with Alphonso Lingis

I interviewed American phenomenologist Alphonso Lingis for the EROS issue of landscape/architecture/political economy journal Scapegoat, that was co-edited by Christie Pearson and Nasrin Himada.  Lingis’ work has been of interest to me since the mid-1990s when I heard him speak at a Virtual Futures conference at Warwick in the UK.  Much of my current work on “the politics of vibration” involves a rethinking of Eros and its relation to subcultures in particular.

Lingis’ work consists largely in presenting a cross-species, even cosmopolitical phenomenology of what it means to seek to bind and be bound to other entities, in full awareness of our vulnerability and capacity for exploitation. In a series of books that begins with Excesses: Eros and Culture (1984) and Libido: The French Existential Theories (1986), continuing with the remarkable Abuses (1994) and Dangerous Emotions (2000), through to the recent Violence and Splendor (2011), Lingis documents the varieties of erotic experience, building on Plato’s “love of knowledge” (“philo-sophia”) and Freud’s meditations on the erotic drives and how they form “civilization and its discontents.” But Lingis goes much further, proposing, for example, the possibility of a civilization built around an unsublimated eros. He gives as historical evidence of this possibility the temples at Khajuraho in India. Yet his argument also relies on an intimate but rigorous analysis of his own erotic experiences.

Nothing Has Been Published

12038313_10153327443802568_1748218722531305016_nThe University of Chicago Press has just published Nothing: Three Inquiries in Buddhism, co-authored by myself, Eric Cazdyn and Timothy Morton.  I wrote up my own thoughts on the book here a while ago.  It was a tough book to write: despite everything that’s said about Buddhism, we felt like we were entering a no-man’s land as we worked on it.  Exciting and unnerving at the same time.  I think it’s come out well though!  Here are the amazing blurbs from the back of the book:

“I have contemplated and endured NOTHING for so long that it did not seem right to break my practice or offer other readers something like insight, possibly a moment of sense-making and affirmation. But I break out of my trance to assert the emphatic necessity of this book, so erudite without loading us down, relentless in its ability to resignify. Sassy, brilliant, a genuine engagement with and of thought, this work tunes us to a thrilling, endorphinating way of thinking: my drug of choice.”—Avital Ronell, New York University

“The reader will delight in two important aspects of Nothing: a multitude of contemporary Buddhist responses to the great political and social changes that have affected Asian countries—imperialism, colonialism, communism, corporate capitalism—and rigorous elaboration of Lacanian psychoanalysis with Buddhist psychology. This book is exceptional.”—Alphonso Lingis, Pennsylvania State University

Two New Essays on Rethinking Intellectual Property

I have essays in two new collections of work on intellectual property.  The first, “From the Right to Copy to Practices of Copying”, in the Rosemarie Coombe, Darren Wershler and Martin Zeilinger edited volume Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (University of Toronto Press, 2014) is an expansion on the conclusion of In Praise of Copying, which advocates a rethinking of intellectual property. We are living through fundamental shifts in the way in which human societies produce and share copies of things, such that we need to rethink intellectual property in a way that reflects the actual practices of copying that prevail today, rather than merely relying on legal definitions. I also advocate for certain legal reforms. Thinking about practices allows us to affirm that contemporary cultures of sharing are built around collective intentional acts, rather than simply being random transgressions of a self-evident law. The second essay, “Structures of Sharing: Depropriation and Intellectual Property Law”, in Intellectual Property Law for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Approaches (Irwin Law, 2014) develops a specific aspect of the argument above, namely the problem of appropriation as it relates to intellectual property law.  I argue that current practices of copying force us to try to think beyond ideas of originals and copies as private property, and to imagine new ways of thinking about copies outside of discourses of ownership.  I elaborate the idea of depropriation, objects that have no owners or are collectively owned, through an analysis of the work of French film-maker Jean-Luc Godard, and think through how depropriation could be integrated into legal models of IP, beyond traditional models of fair use or fair dealing.

In Praise of Copying Translated into Korean and Indonesian

In Praise of Copying was translated and published in Korean and Indonesian editions this year.

The Korean edition was published by Hong C Communication, and translated with great diligence and care by Seungyoung Noh, who often seemed to know more about my book than I did.

The Indonesian edition was produced by the KUNCI Cultural Studies Center in Yogyakarta, making use of the Creative Commons license that the book was issued with in an interesting and to me exemplary way, producing an edition that is principally available as a free PDF via their website (much like the free PDF available from the Harvard website), as well as a print edition that is being distributed to community libraries across Indonesia.  Ferdi Thajib of the group described the project as follows:

“We are a collective who since 1999 have been engaging in popular education approaches aimed at widening public criticality  With this rather broad aim, our activities have revolved around the promotion of local knowledge production practices and functioning ourselves as a hub that connects academia, social activists, cultural producers and the public at large in meaningful encounters
Around one and a half years ago, we received funding from Ford Foundation Indonesia to initiate a project looking at issues of Media and Technology convergence, which includes a component of publication of translated books on cultures of sharing within the digital environment. That is how we became acquainted with Mr. Boon’s work. The whole project allows us to work on three books, namely: Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture (which was published last year), the second one (if permission granted of course) would be In Praise of Copying, and the third installment would be Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks.
Our first reason for translating the three books is that they all provide key insights to explain what is going on in other parts of the world in regarding to issues such as copyright, copy culture, sharing culture, file-sharing, creative commons etc. –  issues that are not new for us in Indonesia, but which have not received adequate critical discussion. This is not so much because of the lack of criticality per se, but more a matter if language barriers. We feel that the rapid development of vocabularies related to internet architecture and the radical changes it has brought to the cultural facets of everyday life has not progressed hand in hand with its better understanding in local settings; not only in daily situations, but also in legal/governmental/ policy making environments.
The second reason is related to the respective content of each book. The selection of In Praise of Copying is prompted by some of the ideas that Mr. Boon has brought up, especially in how he shed light on the entanglement of copying with various forms of cultural production and understanding across the globe. I personally believe that the philosophical take of Mr Boon on copying that crisscrosses the East and West binary may speak a lot to our potential readers here.
And another reason is the practical consideration of the licensing system used in circulating the  work. As one of our goals is to educate people about the importance of sharing, most of the texts that we have produced and published are distributed under Creative Commons A-NC-SA, including the last publication of Free Culture in Indonesian.”

You can read Thajib’s analysis (with Australian media researcher Alexandra Crosby) of copyright, the commons and sharing networks in Indonesia here, and a more detailed analysis of these issues in relation to video activism in Indonesia in the media studies journal Platform.  Thajib and Crosby’s work resonates in intriguing ways with the studies presented in the excellent Media Piracy in Emerging Economies report — and suggests an important set of emerging practices of open source sharing/distribution that utilize Creative Commons licensing — in emerging economies.