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Chapter 5 Intellectual Property in the Digital Age

DOI: 10.23912/978-1-906884-20-8-1442

ISBN: 978-1-906884-20-8

Published: April 2011

Component type: chapter

Published in: Key Issues in the Arts and Entertainment Industry

Parent DOI: 10.23912/978-1-906884-20-8-1361



Once a backwater of law that elicited little interest beyond arts and entertainment industries and their lawyers, over the past generation, copyright law has become a major arena of social and political conflict. Many clashes amount to tactical skirmishes among companies for competitive advantage — a long and familiar dynamicin copyright law. But much of the turmoil revolves around a deeper issue: what legal principles and social norms should be used to promote new creativity, especially when the Internet and other digital technologies are involved? Many Internet users, academics, software programmers, artists and citizens criticise the expansion of copyright law and its enforcement as an obnoxious limitation on their basic freedoms. Content industries, for their part (with significant exceptions among large Internet-based companies like Google) tend to regard expansive copyright protection and enforcement as indispensable for sustaining creativity itself. This chapter describes the profound shifts that copyright law has undergone over the past 20 years as digital technologies have disrupted mass media markets and changed people’s stake in copyright law. As we saw in Chapter 2, the 20th century business models for media industries treated people as passive audiences, whose chief role was to ‘consume’ works made by professionals and sold in the marketplace. This changed with the arrival of the Internet. Telecommunications and digital technologies have enabled ordinary people to become prolific creators in their own right. The ‘people formerly known as the audience’, in Jay Rosen’s memorable phrase (Rosen, 2006), have become bloggers, musicians, remix artists, video producers, website curators, hackers, academic collaborators, and much else. Ordinary people can generate, copy, modify and share works with a global public without having to deal with commercial content intermediaries such as publishers, record labels or studios.

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  • David Bollier (Author)

For the source title:

  • Ben Walmsley, University of Leeds (Editor)

Cite as

Bollier, 2011

Bollier, D. (2011) "Chapter 5 Intellectual Property in the Digital Age" In: Walmsley, B. (ed) . Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers http://dx.doi.org/10.23912/978-1-906884-20-8-1442


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Published in Key Issues in the Arts and Entertainment Industry

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