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‘Sharing is Caring’: Copyright Metaphors and Online Sharing Norms


Copyright is under contest in Australia amid growing digital cultures of sharing. Using metaphor as a frame for analysis, this study applies internet search data (Google Trends) methods to visualise Australian online information-seeking patterns for metaphors related to copyright and sharing. An overview of legal metaphors of online copyright (‘piracy’, ‘war on copyright’) and metaphors of digital sharing (‘sharing is caring’, ‘sharing economy’) leads to a critical examination of the ‘metaphor struggles’ between the rhetoric of copyright infringement and sharing cultures promoted by social media. Key findings presented are of decreased information seeking for copyright metaphors and increased information seeking for sharing metaphors. Online information-seeking patterns, as visualised by internet search data, represent a form of public mobilisation. Visualisation of these patterns of public information seeking for metaphors of copyright and sharing demonstrates shifting conceptions of copyright in contemporary digital cultures. This article concludes by raising a potential relationship between rising ethics of online sharing norms and diminishing legitimacy of online copyright, as the legal metaphor of copyright appears to transition through the metaphor cycle.


Published: 2021-11-08
Pages:61 to 75
Section: Articles
How to Cite
Chelberg, K. (2021). ‘Sharing is Caring’: Copyright Metaphors and Online Sharing Norms. Law, Technology and Humans, 3(2), 61-75.

Author Biography

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Kristina Chelberg is a PhD candidate in the School of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.
Kristina holds a MWEP, LLB and BSc from The University of Queensland. Kristina's research is interested in how public discourses frame understandings of social problems, particularly in the field of health law.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2652-4074