|Sinking the online "music pirates:" Foucault, power and deviance on the web
|Denegri‐Knott, J. (2004). Sinking the online “music pirates:” Foucault, power and deviance on the web. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 9(4), 00-00.
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|About the Data
|The author utilizes posts and commentaries from forum discussions about music piracy that took place in blogs and websites. These texts allow a discourse analysis which casts light on a robust theoretical Foucaultian analysis on Power, micro-politics and domination in the space of music production and consumption.
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This paper aims to evaluate power relations between corporate elites and online music file-sharers on the Web. By documenting changes in discourse occurring between 1998 and 2004 over the labeling of music file-sharing as deviant, it seeks to unveil how power machinates in establishing the parameters between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. In doing so, Foucault's work on power is used as a starting point for investigating strategies employed by corporate elites and file-sharers in order to shift the balance of power. The contest between discourses seeking to restrict or enhance the capacities of free agents in online environments is evidenced in the mutability of a legal discourse seeking to normalize online life. Until now, how the online “music pirates” should be disciplined is in a state of flux where certain developments appear to be favoring corporate interests and others, the interests of music file-sharers. In this struggle, online discourses seeking to curtail freedoms and opportunities advanced by corporate elites and online discourses of freedom purported by music file-sharers, are reversible. This reversibility suggests that online, some offline discourses would be a hindrance and as such, their agents could resist the dominant online discourse by engaging in creative behaviors. Likewise, traversing offline producer-led discourses with innovative and creative actions online could lead to consumers' autonomy. This paper concludes that the significance of these online struggles is embedded not only in their outcomes but also in the processes leading to them. Thus, while attempts to curb these online practices and freedoms persist, changes to a discourse guiding trading conditions between the Recording Industry and end-users have been noted, constituting a victory for the latter.
Main Results of the Study
This article utilizes Michel Foucault’s work in order to account for the changing power relations that exist between corporate elites and online music file-sharers, by analyzing changes in discourses and practices surrounding the free exchange of music through peer-to-peer file-sharing systems. "In seeking to define and discipline emerging behavior, confrontations between discourses, some in support of the copyright holder, others aiming to defend rights of privacy, free expression and fair use, have created a mutable discursive form. In flux, these attempts to discipline online behavior also highlight the reversibility in roles played by those upholding the 'everything goes' ethos of the Net and those seeking to impose offline norms. Corporate agents, in their strategies to limit existing behaviors, resist online discourses of freedom, likewise, consumers committed to changing trading conditions engage in creative and innovative actions to traverse the field of actions established by an offline discourse. Revolutionaries, oppressors, pirates or victims, both producers and consumers depend on each other. While the sinking of online “music pirates” or the Recording Industry is unlikely, it is possible that attempts to achieve this are helping to redefine both what can be done offline and online. More than an act of destruction, this is an act of creation."
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
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