The Battle against Virtual Pirates: Promoting or Destroying Creativity?

Nixon, Philip Anthony (2014) The Battle against Virtual Pirates: Promoting or Destroying Creativity? Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The aim of this thesis is to provide an understanding of how copyright law, with specific relation to internet piracy, affects musical creativity and the fulfilment of creative potential. This thesis focuses on the operation of copyright law with regards to musical works, and will focus on musical creativity specifically. Whilst this thesis is not concerned with specific business models and ‘traditional economics’, there is much discussion around creative incentivisation and the impact this has on creativity. Following an in-depth look into the underlying philosophies and justifications behind copyright law, the accepted viewpoint throughout this thesis is that copyright law seeks to promote creativity through providing strong economic laws to incentivise artists into creating musical works. Western societies across the world are now inextricably linked with technology and the internet, and therefore it is necessary to understand what affect strengthening copyright law will have to the potential of creative development. To understand what impact the increasing trend to legislate against those committing online copyright infringement will have on creativity firstly requires an analysis of the UKs copyright system in comparison to other countries, as well as exploring the effectiveness of our domestic legislation against internet piracy. After acquiring this understanding, there then follows an investigation into creativity at a cognitive level. By using inferences from existing psychological research into our creative minds, and by using the findings of two qualitative interviews that have been carried out with musical artists, it is possible to form a hypothesis on this subject: namely that strengthened copyright laws do not promote creativity, and in fact actually significantly hinder the process of creative development. Combining this hypothesis with the collected research and philosophical understandings referenced throughout this thesis, ideas for reform are proposed, namely that there needs to be a change in the philosophy of copyright protection and enforcement to a more utilitarian stance, and that it is necessary to allow for greater access to musical works through either a private use exception and/or through the provision of educational music licenses through streaming platforms such as Spotify.

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