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Beyond the Commons: The Expansion of the Irish Music Rights Organisation, The Elimination of Uncertainty, and the Politics of Enclosure

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Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Author: McCann, Anthony
Date: 2002
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/3585
Sector: New Commons
Region: Europe
Subject(s): common pool resources
intellectual property rights
political theory
Abstract: "This thesis (online at http://www.beyondthecommons.com)provides a theoretical analysis of the expansion of the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) during the period 1995-2000. Since achieving independence in 1995, the Irish Music Rights Organisation has emerged as the sole performing rights collection agency in the Irish state. From 1995-1998 the organisation met often fierce resistance as it sought to expand the base of its licensing operations. Since that time, however, resistance has subsided, and the Irish Music Rights Organisation now holds a position of unchallenged dominance. Discourse relating to the expansion of IMRO is needed. "'Beyond the Commons' explores the relational implications of the hegemonic authority of this performing rights organisation. To this end, the expansion of the organisation is characterised as an example of 'enclosure'. Enclosure has been variously understood in opposition to the commons, common right, or common property. This thesis provides an analysis of the process and practices of enclosure itself. IMRO's expansion is examined as an example of enclosure without taking recourse to the concept of the commons. "Expansion is the dominant feature of IMRO's activities during the period 1995-2000. In this thesis a descriptive model is used to show that this expansion follows a cycle. It is characterised by expansion, resistance to that expansion, and legitimation of the expansion, followed by further expansion. By drawing correlations between the political dynamics of IMRO and what economist John Kenneth Galbraith terms the 'Planning System', a contribution to an explanatory understanding of this cycle of expansion is explored in which an underlying and pervasive organisational tendency towards the elimination of uncertainty is identified. To move from organisational analysis to an analysis of the relational implications of enclosure, a dynamic theory of 'negotiation' in social interaction is proposed, incorporating uncertainty, meaning, power, and expectation. "Building on theories of critical legal studies, social interactionism, social psychology, and the work of Michel Foucault, it is argued that enclosure can be characterised as a consistency of expectations, that is, a 'disposition'. The disposition of enclosure is that of a tendency towards the elimination of uncertainty. It is disclosed by the evidence of 'attitude', that is, consistency of expectation as evidenced in social interaction. The attitude of enclosure, as evidenced by IMRO's expansionary practices described herein, is characterised by strategies of framing (monologic generalisation, closure, and separation), expansion (representation and resistance), and consolidation (displacement, legitimation, and hegemony). "The dynamic model of enclosure presented in this thesis deconstructs IMRO's expansion, revealing the relational implications of copyright and performing rights in social interaction. It also discloses the implicit complexity in any claims to definitive collective authority from this relational perspective. An awareness of these implications raises ethical questions concerning power, authority, and agency relational to an unquestioned acceptance of the Irish Music Rights Organisation."

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