Sociology of law researcher Stefan Larsson from Lund University believes that legal metaphors and old-fashioned mindsets contribute to the confusion and widening gaps between legislation and the prevailing norms.
Our language is made up of metaphors, even in our legal texts. Stefan Larsson has studied what consequences this has when digital phenomena, such as file sharing and downloading, are limited by descriptions intended for an analogue world.
“When legal arguments equate file sharing with theft of physical objects, it sometimes becomes problematic”, says Stefan Larsson, who doesn’t think it is possible to equate an illegal download with theft of a physical object, as has been done in the case against The Pirate Bay.
Using the compensation model employed in the case against The Pirate Bay, the total value of such a site could be calculated at over SEK 600 billion. This is almost as much as Sweden’s national budget, says Stefan Larsson. The prosecutor in the Pirate Bay case chose to pursue a smaller number of downloads and the sum of the fines therefore never reached these proportions.
In Stefan Larsson’s view, the word ‘copies’ is a hidden legal metaphor that causes problematic ideas in the digital society. For example, copyright does not take into account that a download does not result in the owner losing his or her own copy. Neither is it possible to equate number of downloads with lost income for the copyright holder, since it is likely that people download a lot more than they would purchase in a shop.
Other metaphors that are used for downloading are infringement, theft and piracy.
“The problem is that these metaphors make us equate copyright with ownership of physical property”, says Stefan Larsson.
Moreover, there are underlying mindsets which guide the whole of copyright, according to Stefan Larsson. One such mindset is the idea that creation is a process undertaken by sole geniuses and not so much in a cultural context. In Stefan Larsson’s view, this has the unfortunate consequence of making stronger copyright protection with longer duration and a higher degree of legal enforcement appear reasonable. The problem is that it is based on a misconception of how a lot of things are created, says Stefan Larsson:
“Borrowing and drawing inspiration from other artists is essential to a lot of creative activity. This is the case both online and offline.”
Stefan Larsson has also studied the consequences when public perception of the law, or social norms, is not in line with what the law says. One consequence is that the State needs to exercise more control and issue more severe penalties in order to ensure that the law is followed. The European trend in copyright law is heading in this direction. Among other things, it is being made easier to track what individuals do on the Internet. This means that the integrity of the many is being eroded to benefit the interests of a few, according to Stefan Larsson:
“When all’s said and done, it is about what we want the Internet to be. The fight for this is taking place, at least partially, through metaphorical expressions for underlying conceptions, but also through practical action on the role of anonymity online.”
Stefan Larsson’s thesis is entitled Metaphors and Norms – Understanding Copyright Law in a Digital Society
Contact: +46 46 222 7158, +46 706 92 01 25, Stefan.Larsson@soclaw.lu.se
Megan Grindlay | idw
Product placement: Only brands placed very prominently benefit from 3D technology
07.07.2016 | Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
NASA Goddard network maintains communications from space to ground
02.03.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine