Political Economy of the Internet: Graduated Response in France and the United Kingdom
Graduated response is a means of enforcing copyright by monitoring the Internet, followed by warnings and sanctions (such as Internet filtering and suspension of Internet access) related to copyright infringement. This PhD adopts a critical stance towards graduated response, seeking to answer the questions of how copyright and the Internet are constructed, what kind of society is promoted, and what the power struggles are - in current graduated response initiatives. I approach the topic from the perspective of the Political Economy of Communication, arguing that there is a commodification and enclosure of information and the Internet, and then testing this claim in two case studies related to graduated response. Information and communication are central in our economy and society. Manuel Castells (2009, Communication Power) argues that control over communication and its infrastructure gives power. Being able to shape what kind of information is produced, what is made available and through which communication channels, means being able to determine the agenda and direction of our society. The Internet allows users to “broadcast” their ideas and interests, and has raised hopes of being the ultimate equalising communication medium. Parts of the governance of the Internet have historically also been multi-stakeholder endeavours. Technology, however, is shaped by its uses and policies, and the current open, participatory character of the Internet should not be taken for granted. Graduated response is the result of choices made about the type of society, communication and technology we wish to promote. Stakeholders compete to define the current problem and solution of the losses in the creative industries. Copyright, piracy and the Internet are given a particular articulation throughout the discourses surrounding the copyright enforcement debate. I have chosen two examples of graduated response in policy, namely France and the United Kingdom, as the main cases of my empirical research. France and the UK were among the first countries to pass graduated response legislation. The analysis is qualitative and focuses on the policy-making process. The rationales of the policies, arguments of the stakeholders, and economic and institutional context of France and the United Kingdom are studied to understand how these graduated response policies came about and test whether the explanations of Political Economy of Communication hold up in these cases. This approach to investigating graduated response is valuable, because it raises questions about the construction and role of individuals, information and technology in society.