Constructing the                             Pirate:                         Illegal Downloading and the Ethics of        ...
Piracy is a Crime campaignThursday, 7 April 2011
You wouldn’t steal a car.                You wouldn’t steal a handbag.               You wouldn’t steal a television.     ...
“There is no     difference with    going into a store      and stealing      Pringles or a      handbag and    taking thi...
Consumption without                              Purchase               •Downloader as thief               •Stealing physi...
‘dishonestly appropriates       property belonging to another            with the intention of        permanently deprivin...
Piracy does not        deprive ownership           of goods but         control over the         selling of goods.        ...
Knock Off Nigel campaignThursday, 7 April 2011
He’s the type of man that does                               things on the cheap,                         He gave his girl...
Downloaders as Bad People                    •‘a grubby little man’                    •‘a real creep’                    ...
‘There are more ways than           ever to enjoy music legally.’            ‘Make the ethical choice.’                   ...
But this is just good business...Thursday, 7 April 2011
...surely academic     researchers don’t     see it the same     way.      They are clever and critical...Thursday, 7 Apri...
Piracy is:                                                ‘unethical’                         (Mitchell et al., 2009; Cohn...
University students are targeted for                 analysis [...] because school is where              honorable ethical...
Lacking in moral substance                     or self-control                         (Morris and Higgins, 2009; Malin an...
[D]igital piracy, more than any other               dysfunctional consumer behaviour,                  has significantly im...
Money                         Morality                          HarmThursday, 7 April 2011
Downloading                          Loss in Sales                         Loss in Revenue                         Economi...
Physical          Digital            Total Sales                           160                           128              ...
Physical Units         Digital Units         Total Units                       2000                       1500            ...
Economics is:                  ‘free from any                  ideological,                  theological, or              ...
Normative ethics that don’t                 map onto the normsThursday, 7 April 2011
Pirates may be a minority                   but can we claim they                    form a subculture?                   ...
Discourse excludes possibilities of:                  • Piracy as a positive economic force                  • Copyright a...
Downloaders of illegally                    copied games tend to be                   male, below 40 and heavy            ...
We realise that                It’s a little less complicated                           than that.                        ...
What abo                                       ut the                              context o                              ...
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Constructing the Pirate: Illegal Downloading and the Ethics of Consumption

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Presentation made at the British Sociology Association Conference, April 6th 2011.

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Constructing the Pirate: Illegal Downloading and the Ethics of Consumption

  1. 1. Constructing the Pirate: Illegal Downloading and the Ethics of Consumption Jason.Rutter@soc.kuleuven.beThursday, 7 April 2011
  2. 2. Piracy is a Crime campaignThursday, 7 April 2011
  3. 3. You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a handbag. You wouldn’t steal a television. You wouldn’t steal a movie. Downloading pirated films is stealing. Stealing is against the law. Piracy. It’s a crime.Thursday, 7 April 2011
  4. 4. “There is no difference with going into a store and stealing Pringles or a handbag and taking this stuff” James MurdochThursday, 7 April 2011
  5. 5. Consumption without Purchase •Downloader as thief •Stealing physical goods = copying digital ones •Downloading is like crime against the personThursday, 7 April 2011
  6. 6. ‘dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.’ UK 1968 Theft ActThursday, 7 April 2011
  7. 7. Piracy does not deprive ownership of goods but control over the selling of goods. Problem of maximising profits when scarcity cannot be managed.Thursday, 7 April 2011
  8. 8. Knock Off Nigel campaignThursday, 7 April 2011
  9. 9. He’s the type of man that does things on the cheap, He gave his girlfriend a watch he found in the street. He buys knock-off DVDs. He’d rob his own gran. He scrounges his drinks. What a grubby little man.Thursday, 7 April 2011
  10. 10. Downloaders as Bad People •‘a grubby little man’ •‘a real creep’ •‘steals money from whip ‘rounds’ •‘does things on the cheap’ •‘scrounges his drinks’ •‘He’d rob his own gran’Thursday, 7 April 2011
  11. 11. ‘There are more ways than ever to enjoy music legally.’ ‘Make the ethical choice.’ http://www.whymusicmatters.org/)Thursday, 7 April 2011
  12. 12. But this is just good business...Thursday, 7 April 2011
  13. 13. ...surely academic researchers don’t see it the same way. They are clever and critical...Thursday, 7 April 2011
  14. 14. Piracy is: ‘unethical’ (Mitchell et al., 2009; Cohn & Vaccaro, 2006; Hinduja, 2003) ‘misbehaviour’ (Albers-Miller, 1999; Harris & Dumas, 2009) ‘questionable’ (Freestone & Mitchell, 2004; Hinduja, 2008) ‘corruption’ (Coyle et al., 2009) ‘aberrant’ (Freestone & Mitchell, 2004)Thursday, 7 April 2011
  15. 15. University students are targeted for analysis [...] because school is where honorable ethical values must be instilled and strengthened. Piracy undermines the integrity of the educational institution. [...] [P]erhaps software piracy will inevitably precipitate additional forms of unethical and unlawful computer and network usage, such as the sale of boot- legged copyright material, hacking, Internet stalking, and even dabbling in child pornography. Hinduja, 2003, p.50Thursday, 7 April 2011
  16. 16. Lacking in moral substance or self-control (Morris and Higgins, 2009; Malin and Fowers, 2009)Thursday, 7 April 2011
  17. 17. [D]igital piracy, more than any other dysfunctional consumer behaviour, has significantly impacted on companies’ business models. Harris and Alexia Dumas, 2009, p.380Thursday, 7 April 2011
  18. 18. Money Morality HarmThursday, 7 April 2011
  19. 19. Downloading Loss in Sales Loss in Revenue Economic Harm A wilfully harmful act is an unethical actThursday, 7 April 2011
  20. 20. Physical Digital Total Sales 160 128 96 Million 64 32 0 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 UK Singles Sales Source BPIThursday, 7 April 2011
  21. 21. Physical Units Digital Units Total Units 2000 1500 Million 1000 500 0 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 USA Music Sales Source RIAAThursday, 7 April 2011
  22. 22. Economics is: ‘free from any ideological, theological, or moral philosophy’ (Alvey, 1999, p.53)Thursday, 7 April 2011
  23. 23. Normative ethics that don’t map onto the normsThursday, 7 April 2011
  24. 24. Pirates may be a minority but can we claim they form a subculture? Between 2006 & 2009 Davenport Lyons sent out 95% 6000 33% letters threatening legal Amount of downloaded action against alleged downloader’s content One third of people music for which rights have knowingly bought owner receives no unless they paid ₤500 counterfeit or pirated payment. (IFPI, 2009) The recovery rate was goods. (Bryce & Rutter, between 20-35%. 2008)Thursday, 7 April 2011
  25. 25. Discourse excludes possibilities of: • Piracy as a positive economic force • Copyright as a form of exploitation • Market management should not take precedence of social liberties • Piracy as form of consumption • That consumption as routine, situated and contextualThursday, 7 April 2011
  26. 26. Downloaders of illegally copied games tend to be male, below 40 and heavy technology users. Just like players of computer games.Thursday, 7 April 2011
  27. 27. We realise that It’s a little less complicated than that. Well sort of...Thursday, 7 April 2011
  28. 28. What abo ut the context o f consumpt ion? The socia l backgrou nd to items download ed? The role o f digital media?Thursday, 7 April 2011

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