It’s really odd. Of all of the blog post I’ve written so far, this one has to be the hardest. I think it’s partially because I feel like I’m slightly analyzing myself. Honestly, I’m a bit of a television and movie junkie…ok, a bit might be an understatement. Let’s just say that when I find a television show or movie that I really, really love it’s rather hard for me to let it be. I (as I sadly will admit) become one of those fans who actively participates in a fandom.
“Consumers are learning how to use these different media technologies to bring the flow of media more fully under their control and to interact with other users,” (Deuze, 2010) Jenkins says about the type of culture that is emerging. And from my experience in my fandoms this is observation seems fairly accurate. It is no longer simply discussing episodes of the television series in a discussion board, but making fan videos for the show and writing fan fiction. There is communication between people all over the world who never would have spoken had it not been for their common interest over the original piece (i.e. the television show, the book, etc.) and the resulting participatory culture that ensued as a reaction to the original.
But, this type of participatory culture brings up one of the essential questions that we only briefly touched on in class. With all of this “prosumer” culture, who actually owns pop culture? And what does that mean for the concept of intellectual property rights?
In my opinion, it becomes very hard to decipher who exactly owns pop culture. Those who create the fan fiction, or fan videos, or fan art feel that they have claim over the works that created, but is it copyright infringement because they are manipulating works that are copyrighted? I guess legally, the works created in fandom are considered copyright infringement. But, I’ve never encountered a big legal fuss over these types of infringements. Perhaps this is because media companies see these fandoms as major sources of revenue and the cost of pursuing a lawsuit outweighs the benefits of letting fandoms exist in this “prosumer” way. As Dueze (2010) points out, “[e]vidence collected for the media industries by Jenkins (2006), the service industries by Flew (2004) and the manufacturing industries by Von Hippel (2005) suggests that much of this consumer co-creation is in fact instigated in corporations”.
Deuze, M. (2010). Convergence culture in the creative industries. In D. Thussu (Ed.), International Communication: A Reader (pp. 452-467). London: Routledge.