Digital Leisure - Part 2

Deviant online leisure: The issue of Piracy

Veal, Darcy and Lynch (2013, p. 357) state that:

“a wide range of forms of leisure exist which are, to varying degrees, illegal, immoral, rule-breaking and/or non-conventional.”

These forms of leisure are known in the leisure literature as deviant leisure (see chapter 14 in Veal, Darcy and Lynch, 2013).

Included in the realm of deviant leisure in the online environment would be pornography, hacking, sales of illegal firearms, sexting, illegal gambling etc. While deviant leisure is not a focus of this subject, one particular form of deviant leisure relevant to online business is digital piracy of entertainment.

A recent example of this was when two Foxtel subscribers Brett Hevers and Darren Sharpe in February 2017:

“racked up close to 300,000 viewers within a matter of minutes, streaming the blockbuster pay-per-view Mundine v Green boxing match on Facebook Live”.

At $59.95 per subscription to that service, that is a lot of lost revenue for Foxtel.

Foxtel’s battle with digital piracy does not end there. A big issue for them is the illegal downloading and sharing of Game of Thrones. According to Adam Harvey from the ABC’s 7:30 Report in 2014:

“Foxtel says about 500,000 Australians watch each episode via a paid subscription, while another half a million download it illegally, mostly by sharing episodes with other users through a process known as torrenting.”

At that time it was the most downloaded show in history.

The Dallas Buyers Club and Village Roadshow legal cases are two recent examples of how digital piracy of entertainment products can be a legal minefield. The Dallas Buys Club case focussed on chasing customers associated with 4,726 IP addresses that downloaded and shared the film Dallas Buys Club (Borella and Pearce, 2016). The Village Roadshow case amounted to the Australian Government to block website associated with file sharing. Media and entertainment lawyers Borella and Pearce (2016) discussed the complexities involved in these cases such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) protecting their customers’ privacy, the Australian Government protecting copyright, distributors protecting their income streams etc. After the examining numerous court cases and introduction of the Australian Government’s Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, they advised where to from here:

“The combination of increased avenues for Australian consumers to access television and film content legally, together with the implementation of new deterrent legislation, and possibly more cases like Dallas Buyers Club tackling this issue, will hopefully go some way to reducing the number of instances of online piracy in Australia.”

So, it appears to be a balance between affordable and easy access for consumers and protecting incomes, interests and rights of content creators and distributors. Arguably, digital piracy of entertainment (e.g. mp3s, videos) is a response by some ‘pirates’ to business models not meeting their needs. As a budding leisure entrepreneur, it is the “combination of increased avenues for Australian consumers to access television and film content legally” that gets the thinking going as to how can affordable content be made and delivered to customer to deter piracy but also make a living?

Case Study of the Digital Revolution: Napster to Spotify

In 2015 Spotify was claimed to be worth more than the entire music industry (See Here). However, how did it come to this? Prior to the previously discussed legal cases and the emergence of Spotify, was the landmark case of Napster. The Napster case study below as an example of how new, and importantly, legal businesses can emerge from deviant leisure activity. You will be taken through a series of videos investigating the 90s Napster phenomenon and how it has led to new business models (e.g. Spotify, YouTube, Pandora).

The first video called “Napster: Culture of Free” was made by The New York Times and published in December 2014. It explores the Napster case with a lens on a ‘culture of free’.

Napster Documentary: Culture of Free | 12:28 mins

Next is a VH1 Rock Docs documentary called “Downloaded” that was published in September 2013 by AOL Originals. This video comes with a language warning to students.

Napster Documentary 'Downloaded' | 14:15 mins

The third and fourth videos are part of PBS NewsHour’s 2015 Music on Demand Series. The first of the two is called “Can the music industry survive the streaming revolution?”. This news story reflects on what happened in the 90s and how that has led to the new business models. The second is called “How music on demand is killing the album”.

Can the music industry survive? | 9:08 mins

How music on demand is killing the album | 7:01 mins

The final video is a documentary called “The music industry and the digital revolution”. It is part of The Economist Disruptor Series and discusses a new business model by a company called Kobalt where artists can manage themselves online while meeting the needs of the consumer.

The music industry and the digital revolution | 18:21 mins

Activities/questions to ponder:

Below are a series of questions for you might explore if you consider how you could incorporate digital leisure into assignment 3:

  • • Looking back on your week of lifestyle, how much of you time is spent in the digital leisure space?
  • • How do you consume digital leisure?
  • • What does digital leisure mean for you as a practitioner?
  • • How might the digital leisure world be incorporated into ‘face-to-face’ leisure?
  • What might be the ‘dangers’ of digital leisure? (e.g. deviance)

Weekly Pondering:

Please watch the YouTube video below that sees social commentator and futurist Mal Fletcher discuss with BBC Radio's Phil Gayle on how is leisure time is changing. They discuss the impact of technology on leisure and the argument that our social networks a looser and less deep.

The Future of Leisure Time | 4:32 mins

Fletcher said the he often asks himself “if my computer broke tomorrow would I still have any friends?”. Please reflect in your portfolio your thoughts on this pondering.


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