Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Songs We Share (and the Records We Steal)
This thesis explores the rhetoric of theft imposed on online music by comparing file sharing to shoplifting. Since the litigation between the music industry and Napster, file sharing has been perceived, both by the entertainment industry and by a music listening public, as a criminal act. However, file sharing has more in common with home taping and music archives than it does with music shoplifting. It differs from theft in terms of law, motivation and publicness. In reviewing three histories -- a history of petty theft, a history of policing online music, and a history of shoplifting narratives in popular music culture -- the implications for the cultural production of popular music and popular music identity become apparent. In the end, file sharing links itself more to parody and the concept of fairness than it does to youth rebellion and therefore is unsuitable for sustaining a traditional music industry and the values it has formed with its public. Author Keywords: copyright, cultural production, file sharing, mp3, popular music, shoplifting

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