by Bart Cammaerts — published in 2011

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In this commentary the increasing discrepancy between the emerging participatory networked culture and the hegemonic copyright and intellectual property regime is contextualised and subsequently problematised. While this is a feature and growing conflict for every form of authored work – news, films, books, academic work, photography, the focus here is on music and more in particular on the sharing of music. Sharing music is not a new phenomenon, but current copyright users share music with weak peers in addition to strong peers which has taken sharing to a whole different level reminiscent of a gift-culture, but with less need for reciprocity. Music audiences attribute less value to a digital product than to an artefact such as a CD or vinyl record. The reaction of the music industry to these phenomena has been hostile up until now, criminalising the copyright user and lobbying for the close monitoring of the online behaviour of all internet users. However, while the industry foregrounds its potential losses based on the number of downloads, as well as the difficulties this provokes for young beginning artists, others are pointing towards the societal benefits of worldwide free access to such a wide variety of music. Furthermore, several counter-voices in the copyright debate have emerged, from copyleft to copyriot and more and more artists mainstream and alternative are engaging fully with the participatory culture. In this commentary an argument is developed in favour of the music industry embracing this participatory networked culture rather than take us back to the future of 1984. Democracy and civic liberties are more important than the corporate interests of a few.

Academic sector, Political/Regulatory/Legal, IPR, copyright, access to information, music