Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library

Sharing: Culture and the Economy in the Internet Age

Philippe Aigrain
with the contribution of Suzanne Aigrain
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 244
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In the past fifteen years, file sharing of digital cultural works between individuals has been at the center of a number of debates on the future of culture itself. To some, sharing constitutes piracy, to be fought against and eradicated. Others see it as unavoidable, and table proposals to compensate for its harmful effects. Meanwhile, little progress has been made towards addressing the real challenges facing culture in a digital world. "">Go ahead. Take a copy Sharing is Legitimate An in-depth exploration of digital culture and its dissemination, Sharing: Culture and the Economy in the Internet Age offers a counterpoint to the dominant view that file sharing is piracy, analyzing it rather as the modern form of long recognized rights to share in culture. Sharing starts from a radically different viewpoint, namely that the non-market sharing of digital works is both legitimate and useful. Philippe Aigrain looks at the benefits of file sharing, which allows unknown writers and artists to be appreciated more easily. It supports this premise with empirical research, demonstrating that non-market sharing leads to more diversity in the attention given to various works. New Business Models Concentrating not only on the cultural enrichment caused by widely shared digital media, Sharing also discusses new financing models that would allow works to be shared freely by individuals without aim at profit. Aigrain carefully balances the needs to support and reward creative activity with a suitable respect for the cultural common good and proposes a new interpretation of the digital landscape. Living Book Sharing is also published as a 'living book' on "">WWW.SHARING-THEBOOK.NET. The author will continuously update the book with the latest developments in the field of digital file sharing. Readers are also invited to join in the discussion and provide updates to the book. Sharing is an Open Access publication and can be distributed under under a Creative Commons (CC BY NC ND) license. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1534-9
    Subjects: Economics, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-8)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 9-10)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. 11-12)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. 13-14)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 15-18)

    This book is about file sharing¹ for creative, expressive or informative works in all media. More specifically, it is about file sharing between individuals and without profit motive. File sharing is the act of making a file available to other individuals by putting it on-line, by sending a copy, or by rendering it accessible through a file sharing software. We defend the view that sharing without direct or indirect monetary transaction – or “non-market” sharing – is legitimate. We also claim that sharing is socially and culturally valuable and will play a key role in the future of our culture and the...

  6. Setting the scene

    • 2 The Internet and creativity debate
      (pp. 21-26)

      Great historical changes, whatever their importance, take place over a relatively long period. Seventy years after the first developments of computer science, and thirty years after the birth of the first world-wide information exchange networks, we are still very far from having a real grasp of their consequences. It takes decades for these technologies to disseminate, and their implications only reveal themselves as humans appropriate them. Many analysts apply outdated models to new activities, analyzing Internet use with tools that were appropriate to study, for example, the impact of photocopying on book publishing. They thus reduce the use of computers...

    • 3 The value of non-market sharing
      (pp. 27-48)

      We are all accustomed to a dogmatic view of copyright, which is more about forbidding certain things than ensuring certain outcomes. For those who promote this view, the idea of allowing people who are neither the authors nor the copyright holders of a piece of work to share it with other individuals is tantamount to heresy. Article 27.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (quoted earlier) should serve as a reminder that this has not always been the dominant view. To interpret this article in its fullest sense, we must take into accountanymeans of promoting the material...

    • 4 Sustainable resources for creative activities
      (pp. 49-56)

      There exists a caricatural view of the Internet, which prevents a constructive reflection on financial resources for creative activities and culture. Those who adopt this view see the development of on-line non-market sharing as a black hole that would swallow up the cultural economy whole, and with it culture itself. They also imagine that the Internet could become an Eldorado for new cultural industries to flourish in, as long as the scarcity of copies of works which is the rule in the realm of physical carriers would also be enforced in the digital sphere. Ms. Christine Albanel, the former French...

  7. The Creative Contribution

    • 5 Which rights for whom? A choice of models
      (pp. 59-78)

      A number of models have been proposed over the past few years to move beyond the repression of file sharing. In this chapter, we analyze them and complement them with our own proposal. We discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the various models, and obstacles which must be overcome before they can be implemented in reality.

      A major distinction between different models is which rights they give to whom. Do they give actual usage rights to individuals? On which basis do they plan to reward creators? Starting with models that do not recognize the right of individuals to share contents,...

    • 6 Defining rights and obligations
      (pp. 79-88)

      Implementing a new form of mutualized financing of creative activities and recognizing the non-market sharing of digital works is not something one can do at the drop of a hat. An in-depth debate between stakeholders, experts, policymakers and the public is needed to work through the details. For this debate to be possible, a structured proposal consistent with the new approach presented in the previous chapter must be on the table. We now proceed to detail its key components: to which works will the right to share apply and when? Which types of users will be concerned? What will be...

    • 7 How much?
      (pp. 89-126)

      In this chapter, we embark on our most challenging task yet: to come up with a proposal for the amount of the Creative Contribution and the manner in which it will be distributed, as a starting point for future debate. We do this in a way that has not really been explored before: we consider the potential of on-line sharing to contribute to the cultural and creative capabilities of each and everyone, and estimate the needs for rewards and support for the production of new works from that perspective.

      The “how much” question is easily tackled from a compensatory standpoint:...

    • 8 Sustainable financing for the commons
      (pp. 127-134)

      In the previous chapter, we defined what could be the initial regime of the Creative Contribution. We now reflect on its evolution in space and time. No doubt surprises will crop up in its implementation: how should it adapt to them? How should it be reviewed to address new challenges, in particular of scale? Can it be put in place in some countries first and others later?

      As part of this exercise, we introduce a new way of looking at financing schemes that link the monetary economy to the non-market commons. The relevance of such schemes goes well beyond the...

  8. Implementation

    • 9 Organization and complementary policy measures
      (pp. 137-144)

      The best proposals can turn into a bureaucratic nightmare, or fail to serve their intended aims, if their implementation is inadequate. The challenge is made harder by the fact that organizational issues are no fun. Internet users and creative people (two very much overlapping categories) are not particularly keen on creating organizations, specially not when they have to deal with the large-scale management of money. They often create ad hoc organizations that handle the complex logistics of a project, or art and advocacy collectives. They are often entrepreneurs, engineers of these lightweight virtual corporations which have recently received some legal...

    • 10 Usage measurement for equitable rewards
      (pp. 145-156)

      We are close to our intended goal of making a reasonably complete and self-consistent proposal. We have one final question to tackle: can we really measure the non-market use of works precisely and reliably enough to set the basis for rewards? Strongly divergent opinions have been expressed on this topic in the past. Some managers of collecting societies, who were hostile to a flat-rate-based legalization of file sharing, initially claimed that it was impossible to measure usage, and that the system would be prone to an enormous amount of fraud.¹ Then, as such a system started looking increasingly likely to...

    • 11 Clarification and counter-arguments
      (pp. 157-168)

      In recent years, a lively debate has developed in countries where proposals involving a flat-rate contribution of Internet users to creative activity were made with a view to acknowledge or legalize file sharing. Most of these proposals differ from the one developed in this book because they adopted a compensatory vision of the contribution. In this chapter, we consider some of the most common criticisms. Some of them we took into account when designing our own proposal, so that they do not apply to it.

      We attempt to provide short and clear answers to key points or questions, in the...

    • 12 From proposal to reality
      (pp. 169-178)

      It is time to reflect on whether and how the proposals developed in this book can attract a critical mass of support. The last few years have seen a subtle but significant evolution. Proposals for a flat-rate financing of culture and the recognition of file sharing first arose as a reaction against repressive laws. Geographically, they followed the world-wide dissemination of these laws, which was co-ordinated by a few interest groups such as the International Chamber of Commerce or specialized media interest groups.¹ Flat-rate proposals were made in response to DRM anti-circumvention laws, then to “three-strikes and you are out...

  9. Appendixes

    • A Diversity of attention for beginners
      (pp. 181-192)
    • B The total cost of rewards and their distribution
      (pp. 193-198)
    • C Modeling usage measurement
      (pp. 199-206)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 207-220)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-230)
  12. Index
    (pp. 231-242)