- Re-thinking copyright through the copy in Russia
- Journal of Cultural Economy
- Volume | Issue number
- 6 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
How one copy of a film or a single is made illegal, while its identical twin is treated as legitimate? By drawing from the material collected in Russia on the illegal copying and distribution of video and musical contents, this paper moves beyond the definition of media piracy in legal terms, and instead examines practices of copying, the properties of copies, and the motivations that drive their circulation, color laws and their continuous application. It approaches the copy not as an isolated, individual unit but part of an assemblage, and demonstrates the existence of a specific culture of circulation which brings together its diverse components as one ‘catchment’. In Russia, the legal and pirate media markets do not stand in opposition to one another but co-exist and even enable each other. Media goods have social value that extends beyond commercial, and which is strongly associated with the cultural reproduction of audiences who are cosmopolitan in character and partake in the transnational circuits of culture. Finally, the very definition of what is ‘legal’ in Russian is an outcome of the unstable process of authentication in which experts test, guess and create material trails of evidence to stabilize elusive digital substances. On the basis of these findings, the paper problematizes the social imaginary around the digital copy and with it, the widely circulating notion of ‘piracy’.
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