Downloading as Deviance

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* Article: Downloading as Deviance: Discourses of immorality, consumer ethics and power around internet piracy. Jason Rutter.



"This paper explores how influential segments of media and academic discourse have constructed piracy – the copying of digital content for which the user does not have the legal permission – as an ethical issue. It highlights often adopted assumptions about the morality of downloading copyrighted material and looks at the way they are used to frame the activity as deviant, immoral and unethical behaviour. It looks too at the way in which although the debates over the ethics of piracy and copyright are diverse, the manner in which the notion is invoked in much academic,trade and consumer discourse on piracy often ignore this.Throughout the course of this paper I will argue that this not only encourages a homogenised view of those who pirate digital goods but effectively excludes a number of potentially relevant discourses and research approaches. I will suggest that the consequence of such assumptions when describing an activity that is not marginal or a minority practice (Author removed, 2008;Yar, 2006) limits our insight into the phenomenon and may act to constrain the understanding of the practice. I will suggest that the setting up of a binary opposition between good consumers and deviant consumers is difficult to maintain in the area of piracy as morality is presented as a homogenous and uncontested value or variable to support the construction of a deviant class of consumer. I will argue that such a framework is problematic from an analytical perspective and excludes questions about the characteristics of that morality such as who it benefits and whose behaviour it seeks to control and shape." (