Andersson, Jonas. “Learning from the file-sharers: Civic modes of justification versus industrial ones.” Arts Marketing: An International Journal, Vol. 2 Iss. 2 pp. 104-117.

  • Overview: A.’s article tries to better understand the world-view of cultural consumers who share content for free. He uses a critical discourse analysis to investigate how pirates justify their daily practice. A. coordinates the critical discourse analysis with common tropes in the filesharing community to demonstrate that online sociality and the notion that cultural access to digital content is a human right. A. notes that further studies are needed to investigate the media consumption and production habits of heavy file sharers and goes on to argue that the civic approach to file sharing suggested by pirates themselves differs substantively from the industrial reasoning of corps or business.
  • A. notes that in his study, “file-sharer discourse invokes and incorporates the notion of the general economic benefit for society; a concern that it prioritizes over the concerns of particular sectors, such as that of the record industry. It can nonetheless be read as a mode of reasoning that assumes market principles to be the most universal ones, yet does so from the point of view where “the customer is always right” – that is, where the rights of individuals, as citizens-consumers, outweigh those of industrial actors. Admittedly, this all underplays the communitarian or activist aspects of public life; this is most likely due to the selection in terms of geography and personal disposition of respondents” (105).
  • Demographics/method: 12 internet file sharers, all Swedish, between the ages of 15-42, 25% female. Larger context: Swedish society underplays the role of civil society intermediaries (churches, charities, etc.) and emphasizes individual autonomy.

o   Interestingly, A. notes that “self-regulation of file-sharing is socially and culturally situated, and there is little room to contextualize it fully here” . . . this is important in your own work in terms of understanding how the demographics of global site users are difficult to determine.

  • A. focuses on “the more general, shared experience of ‘networked individualism’ and the civic approach to issues of copyright and intellectual property (IP), as exemplified by p2p-based file-sharing and the systemic position that consumers find themselves in, given the relative abundance of illegal content on offer, and ubiquity of connections” (106).
  • A KEY DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORK AND MY OWN: A. notes that, “It is not my purpose to speculate on the inner motivations of file-sharers. Rather, I will focus on the elements of justification that the argumentation draws on – primarily, the idea that file-sharing might be bad for some sectors but good for society at large” (107).
  • A KEY POINT OF AGREEANCE: A. notes that, “Rather than age being the most determinant factor, exposure to technology (as an indicator of knowledgeability, access and familiarity) seemed to be important” (ibid). A.’s use of the term “Preview” (111). A. notes that instead of wondering what might have happened had file-sharing never existed, this is more beneficial: “Instead, what should be sought are other quantitative or qualitative indicators of consumer inclination toward paying for copyrighted content” (112).
  • A. highlights some of the problems with the perspectives of us vs. them perspectives on the musicians—industry continuum (111-12).

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