Film Distribution in the Age of the Internet: East Asian Cinema in the UK

Crisp, Virginia. 2012. Film Distribution in the Age of the Internet: East Asian Cinema in the UK. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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Abstract or Description

This thesis provides an integrated analysis of formal and informal distribution networks for East Asian Cinema in the UK through interviews and ethnographic-style research. It examines what motivates and shapes the acquisition decisions of distributors in these contexts and how these motivations might conflict, interact with, or complement one another. Whilst existing literature has focused on formal distribution and ‘piracy’ as distinct phenomena, this thesis considers both in conjunction with each other and also uncovers the distinct social contexts of each environment.

Through anti-piracy discourse, the positions and priorities of ‘pirates’ and the ‘industry’ are repeatedly constructed as unequivocally distinct and oppositional. However, on the basis of my research, I argue that these seemingly opposed groups -- professional distributors and filesharers -- are more similar than we might imagine. The connections between the online and offline distributors can be noted in a number of ways. First, the actions of distributors within formal and informal networks involve complex social and cultural interactions rather than purely economic considerations. Second, an individual’s position in a socially imagined ‘knowledge community’ is perceived to be more significant than economic interest in motivating the activities of distributors within both formal and informal channels. Third, by applying Molteni and Ordanini’s principle of socio-network effects, I argue that distributors online and offline are engaged in a symbiotic relationship where each party can be said to benefit socially and culturally, if not necessarily economically, from the actions of each other. Overall, this thesis argues that social contexts of distribution in formal and informal settings shape the distribution process. Indeed, rather than just representing the movement of an economic commodity, the act of film distribution also mediates and facilitates the social and professional relationships of distributors across both sectors.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


east asian cinema, film distribution, filesharing, piracy, peer to peer, cultural industries.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

27 Jul 2012 12:47

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 10:30


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