How does widespread copyright violation, as facilitated by networked telecommunications, impact upon artistic practice and industry in New Zealand? : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Media Studies at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand
The culture of artistic content creation is changing. Once upon a time cultural products,
and the ability to dictate how they were used and consumed, could be easily controlled via virtue
of the difficulty of working with analogue formats in regards to modification, mass duplication
or sampling. The widespread adoption of digital technologies, and the Internet serving as a
global vector of seemingly endless information exchange, has rendered these hindrances to
content duplication, distribution, and manipulation irrelevant in the wake of a globally
distributed network of techno-cosmopolitan media content consumers. With the widespread
normalisation of illegal online file-sharing, consumers of entertainment can essentially source
anything they desire at a non-existent cost, whilst simultaneously excluding themselves from
traditional economic channels of distribution.
This research, partially presented as a documentary, investigates the opinions of artists
(photographers, filmmakers, and musicians) working and living in New Zealand regarding the
prevalence and impact of online copyright infringement. How has this new digital ecosphere
impacted their work/practice as an artist and the industry generally? Is the fact that content
gains far greater proliferation via these networks an advantage to media creators? Or does the
reduction in scarcity and/or effort to obtain said art remove much of the associated value and
thus the need to pay? A consumer can steal art considerably more easily now, but an artist can
also source material for inspiration or reappropriation in ways largely unavailable in the past.
In what ways (and with how much success) have content creators adapted to this new
paradigm? How do these viewpoints correlate with variables such as medium, time spend in the
industry and level of professional/economic involvement? And, indeed, how should both the
creators, and the consumers, of media content think about art in a new world where it can be
digitised so easily?