Mediating Surveillance: The Developing Landscape of European Online Copyright Enforcement

Jon Bright, José R. Agustina

Abstract


After a period of relative laissez faire, governments around the world are beginning to attempt to regulate online life, for a variety of reasons, through various mechanisms of surveillance and control. The drive to enforce the respect of copyright is at the forefront of these attempts, a highly controversial topic which pits proponents of the rights of the creative industry against advocates of freedom of speech.
Apart from their inflammatory nature, one distinguishing characteristic of most of these schemes is that they are mediated: that is, they are conducted with the help of third parties, most often internet service providers. The mediation of surveillance is something as yet relatively underexplored by the field of surveillance studies, whose theoretical tools are by and large focussed on a two way relationship between watcher and watched. This article seeks to remedy this deficit, by examining the dynamics of mediation in the context of online copyright enforcement. We argue that, far from being a neutral process, the displacement of surveillance to third parties has a crucial impact on the way in which it is conducted. In particular, the expanding capacity of mediators becomes a reason for justifying surveillance in and of itself.

Keywords


copyright; information society; internet

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