From our very beginning we have considered research to be a key activity underpinning both our policy and our educational and activist work. We believe that research is necessary to provide sound evidence and background for the designing optimal policies. In our research we have often come across real-life stories that often contribute more to public debate than typical policy arguments.
Our research team specializes in studies of social and cultural aspects of digital technologies and legal mechanisms, which are the focus of our work. Since 2011 we have been conducting a series of research projects which investigate new circulations of content. Additional research supports our work centred on promoting open licensing and open policies.
Circulations of culture
In 2011, we conducted a survey study of unauthorized and informal content sharing practices, which we called informal cultural economies. The launch of the study coincided with the height of the ACTA debate in Poland in early 2012. The results of our study proved to be an important argument in the discussion on the shape and regulation of what is usually described in Poland as “piracy”. Our study provided evidence of its scale and of its coexistence with market-based, official circulations. Most importantly, it provided a different, less stigmatising description of these practices, seen as falling within an alternative, informal, non-market economy.
The research report “Circulations of Culture. On Social Distribution of Content”, written by Mirosław Filiciak, Justyna Hofmokl and Alek Tarkowski, is available in English, together with a mashup – a concise, online remix of the report. The report is also available on SSRN.
“Circulations of culture” was a study that focused on the perspective of end users of content who participate in informal circulations of culture. Such research focus immediately raises the question of intermediaries for these new circulations. The subject of the transformation of cultural institutions which intermediate cultural activities has been of interest to us for several years. “Secretly Cultural” was a qualitative study carried out in 2012, focusing on informal intermediaries. We conducted in-depth interviews with individuals sharing massive content libraries on file locker sites, running pirate game servers and translating films and TV series for the Polish audience. The main theme of the study is an investigation of the ambivalent role of these intermediaries – people who, from a legal perspective, are criminals, yet at the same time contribute greatly to popular culture, at a level that places them in direct competition with formal (public or private) institutions.
The research report “Secretly Cultural. Circulations of culture from the perspective of the creators of networked nodes of content exchange”, written by Mirosław Filiciak, Michał Danielewicz, Anna Buchner and Katarzyna Zaniewska, is available in Polish.
Copyright Law in Transition
While our initial studies focused on practices, we felt that a better understanding of the norms and attitudes of end users is an important step in shaping modern regulation of circulations of culture. In the ongoing debate on copyright reform, the voice of users is muted. Thus the study “Copyright Law in Transition. Social norms and attitudes towards creating and distributing content”, carried out in 2012-2013 and comprising both a qualitative study (focus group interviews) and quantitative survey research.
The research report “Copyright Law in Transition”, written by Michał Danielewicz and Alek Tarkowski, will be published in February 2014.
“Technovolunteers” (Technospołecznicy) looks at the editors of local, independent news sites. Michał Danielewicz and Paweł Mazurek identified 13 towns in which such sites exist and interviewed their creators. Instead of looking at them from a perspective of citizen journalism, the study treats them mostly as innovative, leading users of communication technologies. In this regard, the “technovolunteers” have much in common with the “secretly cultural” intermediaries – only the former intermediate information flows.
The research report “Technospołecznicy”, written by Michał Danielewicz and Paweł Mazurek, is available in Polish.
“Free the Textbook” (Uwolnij podręcznik) is predominantly an information campaign raising awareness of open textbooks (the Polish government launched an open e-textbooks program in 2012). As part of this project, we conducted a small study of attitudes towards openness of educational content and ways in which key interest groups (teachers and parents) understand the idea of “open”. Research results were used to design campaign communication.
“Shadow Libraries: Poland” is a study of informal circulations of academic content among students. The survey study was conducted in 2013 as part of the international “Shadow Libraries” project, coordinated by Joe Karaganis at the University of Columbia.