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London School of Economics

Project Description

Dissertation on digital piracy of 'Bollywood' films and relation to the Indian diaspora in London

Project Abstract

The key objectives of this dissertation are: to gain an understanding of whether the impact of pirated films is significant among the Indian diaspora, focusing on London; to link the positive externalities of piracy with current legal discourse on regulation of copyright violation, comparing an industry and consumer perspective; to show that the cultural benefits/social welfare derived from piracy can indeed supersede the economic concerns affiliated with copyright violation. The end goal is to show that not much has been done in the way of cracking down on digital piracy, and this is good, because it increases social welfare. Within a legal context there are several key issues to be addressed. First, an analysis of copyright law in the UK in relation to films specifically is essential to understanding the foundations for current practice. Next, it is important to analyse the discourse within the film industry on piracy and how much of a concern it is. Finally, and perhaps most important, is exploring the cultural differences in interpreting copyright (i.e., is copyright a predominantly Western concept?)
From the cultural perspective, it is crucial to establish the extent of the Indian diaspora in London and their consumption habits of Bollywood films. Whether they choose to watch copied new releases at home or they prefer the thrill of the cinema will determine whether piracy has a significant impact on their cultural identity formation. As far as cultural identity is concerned, it is imperative to examine how marginalised a minority the British Indian community is and how access to Bollywood films helps to combat this marginalisation. The possible influence on identity formation by films can be linked to the preference for easy access to films, and therefore, to the popularity of pirated copies of these films. Finally, by analysing how the medium of Bollywood film reinforces culture across borders can be tied to the importance of access to these films. In other words, a desire to watch Bollywood films could be fueled by a need to reinforce a community identity and therefore easier access to these films may indeed provide a positive social welfare.
An attempt to explore the phenomenon of digital piracy and its relationship with a particular diaspora is grounded in the theories of not only copyright, but also in the theories surrounding diaspora and ethnic identity formation. Thus, there is a vast array of literature from which one can choose relevant insights to illuminate the current research question. As a result, the literature will be divided into three key sections: the economic theories of copyright and copyright infringement, the legal perspectives of copyright, and finally the theories of diaspora and cultural identity. Overall, an examination of all these theoretical facets provides a sound foundation for the analysis of the consumption of pirated Bollywood films within the London Indian community.

Surveys released for this project:
Digital Piracy and the British Asian Diaspora 19
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