The Trouble with Digital Copies: A Short KM Phenomenology

The Trouble with Digital Copies: A Short KM Phenomenology

Ugo Pagallo (University of Turin, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2136-7.ch069
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This chapter analyzes some of the most relevant ethical issues and social dilemmas in knowledge management and organizational innovation, by focusing on a paramount feature of digital technology, which is “copying.” The new ways in which information is produced, distributed, and shared in digital environments have in fact changed crucial aspects of human life. Whereas, most of the time, scholars consider such transformations in connection with the impact of digital copies on copyright law, the aim of the chapter is to widen this perspective by examining data protection as well as file sharing application systems. The new economical scenarios and business models proposed by this copy-based technology suggest new ways for balancing property rights and “the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community.”
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In order to understand what has changed with the introduction of digital copies on the market, let me shortly illustrate the diverse phases and services of the traditional value chain of a media object (e.g., a music album). As I proposed with Glorioso & Ruffo (2010), the different activities and services may be distinguished in four different steps.

First, we have the authoring phase in which an artefact is created. Sometimes this phase includes a pre-production stage as with the preparation of a demo tape to be presented to a content producer. Then, the production phase starts with individual contracts between authors and business organizations such as record companies, publishers, and the like. The artefact is usually refined by a team of professionals, and finally copied on a given physical support (e.g., a CD).

Thirdly, what has been produced needs distribution according to a marketing strategy. Physical objects are then shipped all around the world (or a single country), so that the cost of the item increases as it is delivered to the distributed network of malls and shopping centres by means of transportation service-suppliers. Finally, there are the clients or consumers: they ideally close the chain by paying a price that covers all of the costs of the work which increase with every single step of the cycle.

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