Music piracy, or the unauthorized commercial reproduction of musical works, evokes a strong negative sentiment in the Malian public sphere. Yet, its routine place in the culture economy makes it an ambivalent category for many, who regularly consume, and even produce, pirated media. For musical artists, however, the subject of piracy is anything but ambivalent. In perceived mercantile exploitations of creative labor and persistent state failures to regulate economic informality, artists experience a crisis of professional status and identity. In this essay, I suggest that artists' concerns about piracy have more to do with their position as political subjects than they do with lost revenues or infringed rights. My argument is that concerns surrounding the economics and legality of music piracy are symptomatic of a broader crisis of political subjectivity and that "piracy" as such is epiphenomenal to a fragmentation of state-subject relations in the political society of neoliberal polities.


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pp. 723-754
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