When media pirates are dicks

Printing stickers that say "Available Online For Free" and then pasting them to real-world merchandise that will have to be removed by retail workers convinces no one of an argument they already know. This is not how you usher in a new age of sharing. It's just being a prick.
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47 Responses to When media pirates are dicks

  1. akbar56 says:


    It’s a simple argument that I have never heard a decent rebuttal to so I guess that’s why it works. It also works because people who seem to be all for graffiti have never had their own property vandalized. They tend to think of it as “well it’s not my property so I guess its ok then.”

    If we all accept that art is subjective, then what you may find beautiful I find offensive. That I have no problem with. We all have different tastes. So send me your address, I can probably easily find some street artists who would love to come tag your house.

    So empty walls, signs and the such are the only medium these “artists” can work in? So it’s ok to deface someone elses stuff in the name of art? Why don’t these street artists go buy themselves a canvas, paint their work and then go put it on an easel on a street? Why is that not done? I would much rather enjoy random piece of art staged on streets than I would see someone’s property defaced.

    Banksy has raised property values? I would love to see some proof on that. If it is true, I guarantee if someone else did it who doesn’t have the power of the name that Banksy carries those property values would be crap.

  2. Anonymous says:

    To me, “vandalism” is when property is actually damaged by an act.

    In the case of the Bush/Obama sign- if the sign was easily changed then it wasn’t vandalism, just more of a nuisance. Closer to some kids drawing with chalk on your sidewalk than “Akbar” spray painting your house.

    With these stickers it seems to be damaging the actual album, if they were on CDs that were shrink wrapped, I doubt anyone would care, because the plastic wrap is easily removed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    what kind of “traffic issues” would the obama street sign prank cause?

    I think what people see in this sticker prank as opposed to ‘public’ graffiti, is that alot of public graffiti is done on blank walls, in alleys, on roof tops, etc.

    In fact, the graffiti community has a very strong ethos against painting on people’s houses. I always get a kick out of the “what if I came to YOUR house” argument, incidentally.

    When you put stickers on albums, you have to conclude that some store clerk making minimum wage is going to have to peel all of them off. That’s just dickly. But if someone spray paints a Pacman cartoon on an alley wall… who gives a shit? It’s an alley wall. The only reason people are going to have to remove it is because people get their panties in a twist about it. As long as it isn’t gang related, I don’t see why anyone would care.

  4. Mister B says:

    Just a passing though, but if Joel found the perpetrators of this art/prank/crime/whatever-you-want-to-call-it so prick-like, then why even link to it? I mean, essentially, he is helping these guys win their recently declared fame contest with NYC Resistor, so has only succeeded in helping them achieve a goal by bringing their sticker project to Boing Boing readers’ attentions:



    Yes, if one takes the view that property is a social construct and therefore as hackable as any other construct, then it is OK to deface someone else’s property in the name of art. Because, lets be honest, it’s only defacing your property if you believe it is vandalism. That’s why people rip their walls and doors down and try to sell Banksy murals on the art market for tons of money, because they’ve decided that its art, and not vandalism. The point is to cause you to question the idea of property. Obviously, this piece failed a bit, if someone has to explain that, but the point is still there.

  5. Mark Frauenfelder says:

    Would it be OK to put the “available for free” sticker on the Obama street sign?

  6. Tensegrity says:

    @18 “It’s a simple argument that I have never heard a decent rebuttal to so I guess that’s why it works.”

    It is a false analogy and therefore requires no rebuttal.

    And it does not work at all. If it worked, at least one actual person would agree with you, which is visibly not the case. That you presume it works because no one bothers directly countering your facile and fallacious argument is argument from silence, another common fallacy.

  7. akbar56 says:

    I sincerely doubt that the main motivation of the majority of vandals is to “question the idea of property.”

    And people think I am delusional.

  8. username says:

    especially when they put them on old vinyl and ruin the cover art. bastards.

  9. stuiethegod says:

    well, since the heated fighting over the merits of graffiti seems to be simmering down, I’d just like to ask why Joel didn’t credit the artist behind these stickers, Evan Roth, who’s work BB has linked to a couple of times before.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Privileged upper class white kids love to fight capitalism by making life miserable for minimum wage working class folk.

    Rage against the machine dudes!

  11. Rob Beschizza says:

    I think it’s mandatory!

  12. Joel Johnson says:

    @StuieTheGod: With no snark intended, because Boing Boing is not an omniscient entity, I’d never heard of the him (but have now! http://blog.ni9e.com/) and because I didn’t know he made them.

  13. akbar56 says:

    just being a prick=all kinds of graffiti.

    Including changing street signs:

    oh wait… thats supposed to be cool right?

  14. Pip_R_Lagenta says:

    I would never put those stickers on anything. Well, you know, except for Time Warner stuff.

  15. thickdot says:

    Not omniscient?


  16. dculberson says:

    @akbar56, I think you do sort of fail at reading comprehension. Namely, Joel Johnson is saying that this act of vandalism is shitty, whereas the post you linked to was (a) written by Xeni Jardin, and (b) made no value judgment.

    So you’ve not only equated two discrete individuals, but also inserted an opinion where there was none.

    For the record, I hate vandalism and have had to clean graffiti off of my property. But I’m also able to differentiate between different people and tell when someone is not saying something is “cool.”

  17. Joel Johnson says:

    At least the street sign this is funny!

  18. akbar56 says:

    So if something damages property, wastes tax payer dollars having to clean it up and has potential to cause traffic issues but is funny it is ok?

  19. DSMVWL THS says:

    Wait a minute, this is Boing Boing! Hating on snarky media pirates? Heresy!

  20. akbar56 says:

    I am quite aware of the identity of both posters. I never claimed that Xeni was all for the street signs nor that Joel is against the record stickers.

    My linking the street sign post was to point out the inconsistencies between the “cool factor” of the thinking of the majority of people on the street sign post versus the uncool nature of the sticker vandals. I was looking for someone to be able to explain the differences between the two. Not be insulted and words put into my mouth/post.

  21. Downpressor says:

    “When” media pirates are dicks? This here is a prime example of double goatfuckering.

  22. theawesomerobot says:

    Nothing like a douche calling a douche a douche for doing something douchy to a douche.

    Oh, and I’m an omnipotent entity. Much better than your non-existent omniscience.

  23. dogmycat says:

    Hi, where do I sign up for the free vinyl?

  24. Joel Johnson says:

    My measurement is even more fluid. I like some graffiti on completely subjective merit. I just find this particular defacement to preach to the wrong group of people and be counterproductive to moving forward the dialogue…okay, I’m going to stop there because you get my drift.

    I agree with these guys in spirit, but I still feel bad for the people who have to clean up their mess. It’s like punching some $7-an-hour McDonald’s employee in the nuts because you don’t like the company’s treatment of cattle.

    Also, Akbar56, you’re being obtuse for the sake of it at this point.

  25. thickdot says:

    One Man’s Dick Is Another Man’s Merry Prankster

  26. Rob Beschizza says:

    “So if something damages property, wastes tax payer dollars having to clean it up and has potential to cause traffic issues but is funny it is ok?”

    Ah, the stealing power of laughter.

  27. Matt Katz says:

    I may be a little late to this party, but I don’t think any of you read Evan’s response.

    ” For the record, the owner of that store loved the project, gave me the kanye album, put the stickers on his own door, and then got drunk with me. ”

    His bad for not including this context originally.

    The world always does seem to be a little hairier and full of fewer villains than we expect. Let’s all calm down a bit, rather than riding the rapids of our first reactions.

    Joel, it’d be nice to see this come to light in the post, since not everyone makes it into the comments.

  28. bp says:

    What is probably the most offensive thing about this is that they took the idea from Downhill Battle and removed everything intelligent from it before putting it into practice themselves. It is neither funny, provocative, nor original. It is, in fact, entirely lacking in redeeming value, which is what makes the fact that people are going to have to scrape off the stickers so egregious. Also, WTF is with the stickers being so HUGE? It’s like they were killing themselves to squeeze in as many ways as possible to shitty the whole thing up.

  29. Trent Hawkins says:

    “So if something damages property, wastes tax payer dollars having to clean it up and has potential to cause traffic issues but is funny it is ok?”

    Doubly so if the authorities also believe that it’s a terrorist threat.

  30. akbar56 says:

    I really don’t want to start the whole debate on the street signs again (it’s clear I am in the minority on that one) I was just looking for clarification between these two subjects.

    It is just sad to me that one can rally against the album stickers yet back up the street sign action. I guess in terms of vandalism I see only black and white.

    So Rob/Joel, if I came and spray painted something on the side of your house that was totally funny you would be okay with that?

  31. kiltreiser says:

    Privileged upper class white kids love to fight capitalism by making life miserable for minimum wage working class folk.

    I dunno, if I still worked in a record shop this would at least give me a smile and something different to do for a while. Trust me, it’s not as cool and interesting a job as Empire Records makes out…

    Anyway there’s nothing wrong with it if you’re being selective – stick those bad boys on Metallica albums and print some “Please Buy Me And Come See Me Live!” stickers for up and coming bands on smaller labels. Then find Lars Ulrich, steal his pants and put some sand in his vaseline.

  32. Tensegrity says:

    @10 How is spraypaint or an adhesive sticker remotely similar to easily removed double-sided tape applied to a metal sign?

    Are you seriously proposing that they are the same? Seriously?

    No, seriously?

  33. akbar56 says:

    The same? Sure. Their methods of adhesion may be different but they are still acts of cowardly vandalism.

    Their tape may have been easily removed, but they still had to be removed. From peeling off a sign to going through the difficult manner of getting rid of painted graffiti, it is all the same. Wasted man hours of fixing what some vandal who thinks they are clever did.

    And I had seen that comment you linked to, thanks for assuming I have no reading comprehension. I would also point out that the person who commented that did so anonymously. If they were so proud of their “art” why did they not own up to it?

  34. AirPillo says:

    Non marring low-tack adhesives are a long shot from stickers like this.

    Seriously. The bedroom I grow up in still has lingering chunks of these sorts of stickers on the door from when I was a kid. The things are a huge pain to remove.

    This is doubly so when they’re on something like a cardboard record cover. You can’t use solvents to remove the adhesive.

    These people probably seriously fucked up those covers, especially if they’re collectibles.

  35. remmelt says:

    Joel @26:

    “It’s like punching some $7-an-hour McDonald’s employee in the nuts because you don’t like the company’s treatment of cattle.”

    We can DO that?

  36. Anonymous says:

    Here is an example of actual vandalism that I could support: replacing the photoshopped images of fast food items on billboards with actual photos of the product. And yet I would be pretty pissed if Starbucks started posting flyers on local coffee shops saying that Starbucks coffee is cheaper and better, even if those flyers were really funny. Sometimes consistency doesn’t seem necessary.

  37. akbar56 says:

    So temporary vandalism is ok, but permanent isn’t?

    Again, trying to understand peoples perspective on this.

    So if these album cover stickers used the same “easy to remove” tape as the street signs, this post would be praising this act then?

  38. Tigerbomb says:

    Neither stolen downloads nor used vinyl benefit the original artist anyway. Aside from maybe the exposure.

  39. Felix Mitchell says:

    Joel: How does this hurt record store employees. If they weren’t peeling these stickers then they’d be doing some other mundane task like peeling price stickers. They still get paid at the end of the day and are no worse off. It’s definitely not like punching them in the nuts which hurts them personally and not their employer.

    The morality of the sticker depends on where you stick it. Another big label’s rehashed greatest hits album with no new content or cover art, that’s a long way from a struggling new band’s debut album.

    The site shows it being stuck on MS Windows boxes as well.

  40. rothstei says:

    Dear Boing-Boing Readers:

    I am poorly-paid ignorant hourly-wage worker. I write to say “THANK YOU SO MUCH BOING BOING” for standing up to the sticker jerks.

    I was working other day finally putting the last price tag on many many many DVD and boss-man comes to me with whip and sez “you take these stickers off”.

    It ruin my day. I just about to leave and go home to eat fast food in front of TV while still being paid but now because of hipster artist hackers i have to keep working. All for same shitty pay wich you know what it is.

    I hate hipster sticker jerks. I wish they just sell silk-screened totes on Etsy like real artissts. I make minimum poor-guy pay easy for nothing if it wasnt for there sstickers.

    I just want to say THANK YOU to Boing Boing for posting it on Internet so everybody nos how poor and marginated I reely am. It is so grate we have a new prez who will grow middle-class, so middle-class can stay all high and mighty to protek poor dumb working guy like me.

    all DVD wit sticker are bought now, by middle class just like you. They bogut them before i even finished taking off all stickers, so again thank you for that. But I hope sticker Brooklyn hipster jerks see this post and go away for ever, or at least go back to putting sticker only on SUVs, which I cant affford.


    signed sincerely,
    the working poor

  41. Dean says:

    For me, it’s not about the stickiness (which is still pretty annoying on its own), it’s about the message. Yes, we know that we can get these things online for free. There’s a reason we’re buying it in the store, and by putting these stickers on the merchandise you’re devaluing the product.

    It’s a dick thing to do because it’s impolite to the people who made the product, sell the product, and buy the product and even after all that it didn’t put forth any worthwhile message.

  42. subliminati says:

    These people are heros! Come on BBers! Can you not see it?

    Employees will have to spend their time peeling off these stickers, thereby neglecting other tasks that need to be done in store. This will force the companies they work for to hire MORE employees, thereby creating more jobs and saving the faultering economy. DUH!

  43. heydemann3 says:

    Hey! Where’s my post!?

  44. mgfarrelly says:


    Why is it that every anti-street art “advocate” resorts to the “Well, what if I spray painted your house? Huh?” argument?

    Cliche as it is to mention, Banksy has helped raise property values in neighborhood where his work appears.

    If someone wants to come to my house and create something beautiful on the walls I’d welcome them. Perhaps make them some tea even.

  45. akbar56 says:


    It is obvious I am in the minority on this one so I have moved on. Perhaps you should to.

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