The role of copyright in online creative communities: law, norms, and policy
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Many sources of rules govern our interactions with technology and our behavior online—law, ethical guidelines, community norms, website policies—and they do not always agree. This is particularly true in the context of content production because copyright law represents a collection of complex policies that often do not always account for the ways that people use and re-use digital media. Within legal gray areas, people make decisions every day about what is allowed, often negotiating multiple sources of rules. How do content creators make decisions about what they can and cannot do when faced with unclear rules, and how does the law (and perceptions of the law) impact technology use, creativity, and online interaction? Combining in-depth interviews, large-scale content analysis, and surveys, my work examines the complex relationship between law, site policy, norms, and technology. This dissertation provides a better understanding of how content creators engage with copyright and how norms organically form within communities of creators. It concludes with a set of design and policy recommendations for online community designers to help better support current practices among content creators.