Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wall on The Theft of Ideas as a Cybercrime

David S. Wall, University of Leeds, Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, has published The Theft of Ideas as a Cybercrime: Downloading and Changes in the Business Model of the Creative Arts in The Handbook of Technology, Crime & Justice 161-177 (M. McGuire and T. Holt, eds., London: Routledge, 2017).

This paper focuses on copyright and critically explores some of the arguments that are used to justify intellectual property law in this digital and networked age and some of the tactics used to protect them. More specifically, this paper explores the theft of creative ideas as a cybercrime and focuses upon the contradictory intellectual property issues raised by the digital and networked technologies of downloading via file sharing. Technologies, which, like each previous new form of communications technology has ‘disrupted’ predominant business models and challenged the assumptions behind them. In the case of the creative arts, the ‘intellectual land grab’ for control over the ideas domain remains as contentious as ever. In this case, digital forms of music, film and, for that matter many other expressions of the creative arts. On the one hand, there has been as there still is, a distinct move to restrict and disincentivise downloading via file sharing by criminalizing what was otherwise a civil space - arguably making it even more attractive as a form of deviance. On the other hand technologies are being developed to automatically censor IP content in live streams, reaffirming downloading via file sharing as a form of deviance. Furthermore, there is the simultaneous irony that technologised and legally unstable income stream collection practices, such as ‘speculative invoicing’ - the sending of invoices to alleged copyright infringers demanding payment else face further legal action - are corrupting the very process that they seek to protect. All, against the background of the curious paradox of circulation and control which appears to demand that successful management of IP has to achieve a critical balance between restricting it enough to prevent it from becoming too diluted and losing its public appeal and value, and letting it roam free enough for consumers to buy into it and creators incorporate the themes into the next generation of popular culture - itself a contradiction to existing intellectual property ‘central origin myths’.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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