In this paper two online activities are discussed that are becoming increasingly interesting to organisations because they suggest a potential change in the balance of power between producers and consumers. The activities are peer‐to‐peer (P2P) file‐sharing and online groups. An analysis is provided of 848 messages from approximately 150 users of a forum on Audiogalaxy's Web site immediately after the suspension of its P2P service following an RIAA lawsuit. Much of the interaction on the forums is “informational” in nature, and significant in terms of directing users to alternative P2P services. Other exchanges appear more “transformational”, attempting to energise the group into physical protest, although protests appear to be contained online. Also highlighted is the role of “recreational” exchanges in developing “relational” and “informational” exchanges and it is suggested that more research is needed in this area. The implications for file‐sharers and for organisations that might deal with online consumers are discussed. It is concluded that the RIAA's actions were largely counter‐productive as they were unable to prevent users moving to another P2P service and encouraged discourses which support file sharing. However the risk of “real‐life” protests as a result of the online groups’ reaction also seems low.
Corporate Communications: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2004
Keywords: Internet; Communities; Data handling; Communications
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