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File sharing as an alternative media distribution channel.: An online study of agency
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

File sharing is a popular online activity, despite the fact it is increasingly criminalized as infringing copyright law. The following study contributes to the field of media studies and to the growing number of research investigating this popular online activity. It aims to understand how file sharing, in particular BitTorrent protocol, acts as an alternative distribution model and what is the role of file sharers’ agency in this new environment. The methods used were online ethnography and online interviews and were deployed on a discussion board dedicated to the topic of file sharing, specifically in the board’s BitTorrent section. Ethnography is not a popular choice when doing research online, but considering the fact that file sharing is a solely online activity, it can provide new insights by helping the researcher observe the difference between what the informants say they do and what they actually do. I argue that, although file sharers don’t seem to reflect over the technicalities of the activities they are involved in, their agencies contribute to making file sharing a new, alternative distribution model for cultural and creative products (music, movies, electronic publications, games and software). Thus, we need to re-theorize the distribution models currently in use by taking into consideration consumers agencies. Instead of criminalizing a popular activity which shows no sign of being abandoned in spite of the increasing copyright law enforcement, one way of rethinking distribution is to look closely to how file sharing works and learn from it.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Online ethnography, online communities, file sharing, media distribution, distribution models, agency, structuration theory
National Category
Media Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-93448OAI: diva2:646892
Available from: 2014-04-28 Created: 2013-09-09 Last updated: 2014-04-28Bibliographically approved

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