Medosch argues that: “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfils culturally important functions” (Reader, page 318). Discuss ONE of these arguments while giving an example online.

Medosch argues that “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfils culturally important functions” (Medosch, 2008: 81). With the widening of both the global and the local digital divide, which refers to inequality access to information, technology and the internet based on geographical location and wealth, we see a rise in the “pirate culture” (Castells, 2001). Piracy has always been spoken about negatively, a “billion dollar threat to the US economy” according to Paul Paradise (1999). However, it is important to countries or areas deprived from cultural products due to poverty or censorship because it gives them “access to cultural goods which otherwise would be completely unavailable” and bridges the gap between them and those in power (Medosch, 2008: 81). It addition, piracy is often the force that drives cultural productions as seen in the popularisation of pop music in UK where pirated versions of songs from the Beatles and Elvis Presley where illegally transmitted on private radio stations (Mason, 2008). Although I reject the values of “theft” promoted by piracy, I agree that it is an important agent in fulfilling cultural functions that controls the flow of power in society.

As Medosch (2008: 80) points out, “large international vertically integrated media corporations stifle local cultural production by completely taking over marketing and distribution channels, thereby destroying the business of local distributors who offer more culturally diverse and more local goods”. This means that media conglomerates are controlling the flow of media content to maintain their power over consumers by cutting out culturally important products from mainstream. They also commercialise content, limiting access to products only to the rich (Cuneo, 2002). This phenomenon pulls the poverty and digital divide gap wider because without access to cultural products and technology, you have cannot gain knowledge and will forever live in the vicious cycle of poverty. In developing and third world countries such as India and Africa, they advocated for free softwares and were more open to piracy because the stagnation of technological capabilities imposed by copyright laws also meant the stagnation to their economies because opportunities to compete in the global market were stifled (James, 2002). What we see here is that the protection of the richer economies meant the poorer economies suffer. With piracy, in this case, the richer economies stay rich (since developing and third world countries cannot afford the technology without piracy any way) while the poorer economies gain opportunities to escape poverty.

In Australia, for example, the film “Ken Park” was banned in 2003 on the basis that it was too sexually explicit (Carstairs, 2003). It was the only country who banned it. However, the film contained controversial issues that many people saw important in the education of sexuality, dysfunctional families, teenage deviance and suicide (Carstairs, 2003). Thus, illegal screenings were shown and copies of the film were distributed online (Carbone, 2003; The Age, 2003). The restriction was not only seen as a form of cultural inhibition, but also seen as a form of censoring free speech (The Age, 2003). Here is the film trailer (*Note – It is explicit):

Piracy, though inherently bad as it exploits others work, fulfils culturally important functions, more so, but not exclusive to, countries which have no access to the original material. In a way, it promotes democracy within local cultures and the global sphere. Mark Pesce goes as far as to say that piracy can be harnessed for economic growth, because it promotes cultural productions that may otherwise be left on the shelf (Pesce, 2005). Even though I agree that piracy has benefits, I do not think it is a long-term solution to bridging cultural differences. Instead, I stand by Jeffrey James (2002) argument that free software and better management of copyright materials can perform the same cultural function in a more ethical way than piracy.


Carbone, S. (2003) ‘Film board chief on the defensive over banned movie’, The Age, http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/07/04/1057179156219.html, 5 July, [3 June 2011].

Carstairs, P. (2003) ‘The “banning” of Ken Park: a brief review of the facts and issues’, Arts Law Centre of Australia, http://www.artslaw.com.au/art-law/entry/the-banning-of-ken-park-a-brief-review-of-the-facts-and-issues/, 30 September, [3 June 2011].

Cuneo, C. (2002) Globalized and Localized Digital Divides Along the Information Highway: A Fragile Synthesis Across Bridges, Ramps, Cloverleaves, and Ladders. The 33rd Annual Sorokin Lecture: University of Saskatchewan.

James, J. (2002) ‘Free software and the digital divide: opportunities and constraints for developing countries’, Sage Publications: Journal of Information Science 2003, 29: 25.

Mason, M. (2008) ‘Live and Let DIY’, Guardian.co.ukhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/ culture/2008/may/10/popandrock.piracy, 10 May, [3 June 2011].

Medosch, A. (2008) ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’ pp. 73-97 in Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies. London: Deptforth TV.

Paradise, P.R. (1999) Trademark Counterfeiting, Product Piracy, and the Billion Dollar Threat to the U.S. Economy. USA: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Pesce, M.D. (2005) Piracy is Good? New Models for the Distribution of Television Programming. Lecture: Australian Film Television and Radio School.

The Age (2003) ‘Ken Park ban ‘sadly archaic’, http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/07/04/1057179133410.html, 4 July, [3 June 2011].

Piracy is good? Lecture by Mark Pesce at the Australian Film Television and Radio School about the future of TV distribution in the age of P2P networks. He explains how piracy can be good for the economy as well.

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIqG7WgqQ-w&feature=related

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XftaEUYLz4&feature=related

Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gS5DaO9yFQ0&feature=related

Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHcRnspYJ-Q&feature=related

Part 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHcRnspYJ-Q&feature=related

Part 7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doM9Vboy4EU&feature=related

I thought this was interesting. Steven had a very different response from mine. I focused on what makes a celebrity, a celebrity but he focused on the business aspect of celebratisation. And one with much better quality (*GASP* quality discourse)!

Check him out: http://steventannason21.wordpress.com

Question: Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media”. Discuss and give an example of a YouTube video.


Bonner, F. (2005) ‘The Celebrity in the Text’ pp. 57-96 in Evans, J. and D. Hesmondhalgh (eds) Understanding Media: Inside Celebrity. London: Open University Press.

Burgess, J. and Green, J. (2009) ‘YouTube and the Mainstream Media’ pp. 15-37 in YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. Cambridge: Political Press.

Evans, J. and D. Hesmondhalgh (2005) Understanding Media: Inside Celebrity. London: Open University Press.Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, New York and London: New York University Press.

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, New York and London: New York University Press.

Keen, A. (2008) The Cult of the Amateur: How Blogs, MySpace, YouTube and the Rest of Today’s User-generated Media are Killing our Culture and Economy. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Muller, E. (2009) ‘Where Discourse Matters: Discourses on the Art of Making a YouTube Video’ pp. 126-139 in Snickars, P. and P. Vonderau (eds) The YouTue Reader. Stockholm: National Library of Sweden.


Videos used:

Lady Gaga, Born This Way – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV1FrqwZyKw

Lady Gaga, The Fame: Part One – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd4x-_iL85s

Sam Tsui, Born This Way – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZe1fcYLwBg

J Rice Music (Collaboration of 55 YouTube Artistes), We Pray for You – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G03HgSxDqlA

The Lonely Island, Jizz In My Pants – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLnWf1sQkjY

MsTaken, Puke in my Mouth – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJsQcnB6GC0

Russell (et al.) questions if “bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity, more effectively inform the public”. To answer Russell’s question, we must first establish what “good journalism” is. According to Andrew Keen (2008: 64), good journalism is based on “reliability, accuracy and truth of the information”. Others such as Tremayne (2007) emphasize that to effectively inform the public, news must be timely and taken from a credible source. The information must also be “relevant and of interest to their target audience”, “unbiased” and “objective” (Articlesbase, 2009). Now, as we compare accredited mass media to blogging, we may immediately jump to the conclusion that apart from perhaps being timelier, blogging is less credible, less accurate and less objective than information produced by mass media, ineffectively informing the public. However, as Lee Kain and Postelnicu (2007: 152) argue, “bloggers are communicators whose potential to influence is derived from their credibility or social attractiveness” in the first place. Although I agree with Keen (2008: 64-96) that many blogs contain inaccurate facts, I argue that some bloggers more effectively inform the public than elite media.

As Bruce Gutherie, ex-editor-in-chief of the Herald Sun, revealed: Most of the information we receive through elite media are not objective and often bears the ideologies of the media owner, in this case, Rupert Murdoch (O’Brien, 2010). In our everyday lives, we are reminded again and again of these ideologies due to the intrusion of mass media. What bloggers do is they provide an alternative voice and dimension to the same issue (Flew, 2008: 150-159). If a blog is credible as Lee Kain and Postelnicu (2007: 152) argue and in line with the facts we receive from elite media, we would continue to subscribe to it because the internet makes this information more accessible at a low-cost, free from geographical boundaries (Hassan, 2008: 159-189).

During the Singapore Election this year, many people took to the political blog, anilnetto.com, for the results. I took a screenshot of the Twitter account linked to this blog:

7 June 2011: Anilnetto.com, one of the blogs to front the Singapore General Election results

People were displeased at the rate they got the results from major media companies in Singapore such as MediaCorp and Channel News Asia (CNA). They were criticising traditional media for being slower than Twitter, Facebook and blogs. One comment even reads, “CNA, [if] you say new media development one more time *slap*slap*slap*”. She was referring to how ineffective news media channels, believed to release “first-hand news”, were not quicker or more accurate than blogs or social network sites.

People are taking to blogs for its information because many of them have established a system of credibility and timeliness comparable to or better than the offerings of accredited media (Lee Kain and Postelnicu, 2007). However, we cannot deny the fact that amongst the millions of blogs, only a few are as such (Keen, 2008: 64-80). Therefore, those who seek these A-list blogs will benefit most and render it more effective than elite media as argued earlier while those who are less tech savvy or find it a hassle to search for these blogs will just let elite media take the lead. Either way, the quality of information received is, at the bottom line, a matter of choice by the consumer.



Articlesbase (2009) ‘Effective Journalism – Education for the 21st Century’, http://www.articlesbase.com/journalism-articles/effective-journalism-education-for-the-21st-century-972813.html, 15 June, [28 May 2011].

Flew, T. (2008) ‘Citizen Journalism’ pp. 106-116 in New Media: An Introduction. Melbourne: Oxford Press.

Hassan, R. (2008) ‘Faster and Faster’ pp. 159 – 189 in The Information Society. Cambridge: Political Press.

Keen, A. (2008) The Cult of the Amateur: How Blogs, MySpace, YouTube and the Rest of Today’s User-generated Media are Killing our Culture and Economy. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Lee Kain, L. and M. Postelnicu (2007) ‘Credibility of Political Messages on the Internet: A Comparison of Blog Sources’ pp. 149-164 in Tremayne, M. (ed) Blogging, Citizenship and the Future of Media, New York: Rouledge Press.

O’Brien, K. (2010) ‘Men Bites Murdoch’, ABC News Online, http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content /2010/s3036588.htm, 12 October, [28 May 2011].

Tremayne, M. (2007) ) Blogging, Citizenship and the Future of Media, New York: Rouledge Press.

This a video on Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazera, and his thoughts on journalism in Arab countries at TED convention. Visit the site for more information: http://blog.ted.com/2011/03/02/a-historic-moment-in-the-arab-world-wadah-khanfar/

I read this: http://timothylam.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/uni-professors-are-flocking-to-the-blog/

“Another reason why blogs are being embraced by academics is that the informal nature of blogging makes them more accessible than the mammoth and jargon-laden articles that nobody without a PhD would understand.”

My favourite line from his blog post! I do agree that blogs are much easier to read and understand in comparison to academic journals. My lecturer is using her blog as a journal for her thesis because she says it is much easier to track her work. But I wonder if they can truly replace academic works.

I read Henry Jenkins’ blog frequently because he is engaging and I do learn a lot from him. But how do you differentiate, for example, his personal opinion from his academic work on his blog? Can blogs be truly academic or is it just a tool to write that thesis in the end? Maybe it’s just me because I find blogging so much more personal than academic to a point that I sometimes find it difficult to write academically on blogs.

– Article taken from Timothy Lam’s blog. Check him out on my blogroll:)