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Digital piracy as a matter of (inter)national security? The law and politics of online copyright

Benjamin Farrand
University of Newcastle
Helena Costa Carrapico
Benjamin Farrand
University of Newcastle
Open Panel

Abstract

This article evaluates the way in which copyright infringement, particularly in digital media, has been gradually shifting from an issue of civil liability to one of criminal penalty. Traditionally, consideration of copyright issues has been undertaken from predominantly legal and/or economic perspectives. Whereas traditional legal analysis can explain what legal changes are occurring, and what impact these changes may have, they may not effectively explain ''how'' these changes have come to occur. In comparison, the literature dealing with the internet and politics has, until now, dedicated a good part of its attention to exploring the effects of the former on the latter. This paper, however, attempts to approach this area from the opposite perspective, by analysing how political actors are trying to shape/ control the usage of the internet and the consequences that may stem from these practices. The authors propose an alternative inter-disciplinary approach combining legal analysis with critical security studies, which may help to explain in greater detail how policies in this field have developed. In particular, through applied securitisation theory, this article intends to demonstrate the appropriation of this field by a security discourse, and its consequences for societal and legal developments. In order to explore how the securitisation framework may be a valid approach to a subject such as copyright law and to determine the extent to which ''digital'' copyright law may be said to have been securitised, this article will begin by explaining the origins and the main features of securitisation theory, and its applicability to legal study. The authors will then attempt to apply this framework to the development of a criminal law approach to copyright infringement, based on key political discourses concerning internet piracy.