Copy Me Happy: The Metaphoric Expansion of Copyright in a Digital Society

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The article uses conceptual metaphor theory in order to analyse how the concept of “copy” in copyright law is expanding in a digital society to cover more phenomena than it originally did. For this purpose, the legally accepted model for valuing media files in the case against The Pirate Bay (TPB) is used in the analysis. When four men behind TPB was convicted in District Court of Stockholm, Sweden, on 17 April 2009, it to many marked a victory for the American and Swedish media corporations over online piracy. The convicted men were jointly liable for the damages on roughly EUR 3.5 million. But how do you calculate damages of file sharing? For example, what is the value of a copy? The article uses a model of valuing files in monetary numbers, suggested by the American plaintiffs and sanctioned by the District Court in the case against the BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay (TPB), in order to calculate the total value of an entire and in this anonymous other BitTorrent site. These calculated hypothetical figures are huge – EUR 53 billion – and grow click by click, which on its hand questions some of the key assumptions in the copy-by-copy valuation that are sprung from analogue conceptions of reality, and transferred into a digital context. This signals a (legal) conceptual expansion of the meaning of “copy” in copyright that does not seem to fit with how the phenomenon is conceptualised by the younger generation of media consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-634
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Information Systems, Social aspects
  • Law and Society


  • Copy
  • Copyright
  • Metaphor
  • Conceptions
  • Pirate Bay
  • Legal conceptual change.


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