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Unauthorised file sharing

Publicatie van Kenniscentrum Creating 010
Joost Poort, P.W.M. Rutten | Boekdeel | Publicatiedatum: 30 juni 2012
This chapter deals with a fascinating, and for some disturbing, phenomenon in the domain of the media and entertainment industries: unauthorised file sharing, in some cases also referred to as piracy. The latter term, however, was originally used to refer to the organised production of a counterfeit product, i.e. illegal physical copies of games and DVDs (or Gucci bags and Rolex watches). On the internet, it is confined to those who practise file sharing with a straightforward criminal intent driven by commercial motives. This chapter deals exclusively with unauthorised file sharing by individual citizens. With the advent of broadband digital networks following up on the introduction of the internet, people have shown a great interest in acquiring digital content, in order to get to know it or to store their favourite works on their digital devices for immediate access. At first file sharing primarily related to music, later also to films, games and, since recently, books. Digital technology in the hands of citizens proved a powerful tool for sharing creative works online and get the better of rights holders, not asking for authorisation, giving consumers free access to a mere à boire of entertainment products. Although the unauthorised distribution of copyrighted works is a violation of copyright law, file sharing has proven to be an obstinate phenomenon. Media and entertainment companies have vigorously attempted to stop the unauthorised sharing of files on legal grounds, evoking copyright law in particular, with very limited success.

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