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Technology scruples: why intimidation will not save the recording industry and how enchantment might

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Pete Wright


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While the recording industry continues to lobby for increasingly draconian laws to protect their interests, users of digital technology continue to share files and copy protected music. This paper considers the ethics of copying and argues that legal measures are unlikely to solve the music industry's problems in the age of digital reproduction. It begins with a review of the legal arguments around copyright legislation and notes that the law is currently unclear and contested. Adapting the game "scruples" to questions of what is and is not considered theft, a qualitative study reflects on the ways that ethical positions around new media are reached and articulated. The findings relate ethical positions constructed around notions of resistance, intangibility and identity. It is argued that the global online population cannot be policed without consent and that mechanics of artist reimbursement must be developed that account for consumers' technology scruples. File sharing is then considered not as a legal problem but as a design challenge and a strategy of enchantment is suggested. The design concept of a digital music box is outlined to illustrate strategies of enchantment rather than litigation and intimidation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Blythe M, Wright P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

Year: 2008

Volume: 12

Issue: 5

Pages: 411-420

ISSN (print): 1617-4909

ISSN (electronic): 1617-4917

Publisher: Springer UK


DOI: 10.1007/s00779-007-0158-z


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