The new romantics: authenticity, participation and the aesthetics of piracy

Margie Borschke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The participatory, collaborative and open character of networked digital media is thought to disrupt and challenge romantic assumptions and ideals about authorship, authenticity and creative expression, concepts that underpin most copyright regimes. In this article I consider MP3 blogs in the mid-2000s, drawing on an earlier study of MP3 bloggers in the U.S. and U.K. (Borschke 2012a, 2012b). MP3 blogs, like Napster and other forms of unauthorized reproduction, are better understood as cultural practices and artifacts when considered alongside piracy's long history. The aesthetic consequences and possibilities of forms of expression that are also methods of distribution, are clarified by identifying and examining a tension that connects MP3 blogging to other practices of unauthorized use: that is, the persistence of romantic ideals of creativity, authenticity and authorship even while seeming to deny and disregard them. By acknowledging the poetics of piracy practices (including the aesthetic character of distribution and replication) we can begin to understand how new authenticities build up around networked expression and how the meaning of networked forms of expression, formats, practices and artifacts can change over time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5549
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalFirst Monday
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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