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The Socio-Technical Evolution of Intellectual Property Online: Creating Counterfeit Culture


Recent years have seen a major shift in the nature of counterfeiting for goods such as music, video, computer games and software. Growth broadband and the increased demand for content have contributed to the exponential growth in the illegal copying and exchange. A new relationship between intellectual property (IP) owners and consumers has developed where tensions between control and access is being negotiated and, at times, resisted. Further, the piracy of digital products has become normalised and accepted across the complete demographic range of users – a counterfeiting culture. Working with consumers, industry and policy stakeholders, the research proposed during the Fellowship has the objectives to explore: The role, added-value and control of user-generated IP; The normalisation of activities associated with IP crime; Negotiating IP owner rights and user privileges. Using Dr Rutter’s previous research as a theoretical foundation, the research will demonstrate the weaknesses in assumptions previously made about the consumption of counterfeit goods, namely that: it can be simply linked to user income; maximisation of utility can satisfactorily explain user behaviour; it is a practice limited to young consumers; and, that unlicensed use of IP is always detrimental to competitiveness. In order to do this, an innovative combination of research methods will be employed to explore both demand and supply side activities in the area and the consequences for innovation.

Call for proposal

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Oude Markt 13
3000 Leuven

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Stijn Delauré (Dr.)
EU contribution
€ 215 690,72