Copyright law as a matter of (inter)national security? – The attempt to securitise commercial infringement and its spill-over onto individual liability

Benjamin Farrand, Helena Carrapiço

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article evaluates the way in which copyright infringement has been gradually shifting from an area of civil liability to one of criminal penalty. Traditionally, consideration of copyright issues has been undertaken from a predominantly legal and/or economic perspectives. Whereas traditional legal analysis can explain what legal changes are occurring, and what impact these changes may have, they may not effectively explain ‘how’ these changes have come to occur. The authors propose an alternative inter-disciplinary approach, combining legal analysis with critical security studies, which may help to explain in greater detail how policies in this field have developed. In particular, through applied securitisation theory, this article intends to demonstrate the appropriation of this field by a security discourse, and its consequences for societal and legal developments. In order to explore how the securitisation framework may be a valid approach to a subject such as copyright law and to determine the extent to which copyright law may be said to have been securitised, this article will begin by explaining the origins and main features of securitisation theory, and its applicability to legal study. The authors will then attempt to apply this framework to the development of a criminal law approach to copyright infringement, by focusing on the security escalation it has undergone, developing from an economic issue into one of international security. The analysis of this evolution will be mainly characterised by the securitisation moves taking place at national, European and international levels. Finally, a general reflection will be carried out on whether the securitisation of copyright has indeed been successful and on what the consequences of such a success could be.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373- 401
Number of pages28
JournalCrime Law and Social Change
Issue number4
Early online date30 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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