User production and law reform: a socio-legal critique of user creativity

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Media, Culture and Society, 2015, 37 (5), pp. 753 - 767
Issue Date:
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© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015. This article argues that recent scholarly attempts to prescribe creative agency to a user subject rarely consider how the user functions in a broader legal and cultural context. I suggest that the user is a complex subject defined by various cultural and legal discourses, following a critical body of scholarship that calls for a more nuanced approach to the issue of user production. I show how the user-a term often treated neutrally in the user production literature-is a subject that is already defined by extant legal discourses like copyright. This argument is developed in a detailed analysis of Canadian copyright law and the Copyright Modernization Act, a reform to Canadian copyright law, which attempted to address the phenomenon of user production. These examples show the user is embroiled in a broader set of creative politics where being defined as a user or an author can have commercial implications. I suggest greater specificity and qualification around the role and scope of the user is needed in future scholarship examining the phenomenon of user production.
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