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Ownership, Ego, Sharing, and Counterfeiting Russell W. Belk University of Utah, USA Lancaster University Management School (visiting)

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Presentation on theme: "Ownership, Ego, Sharing, and Counterfeiting Russell W. Belk University of Utah, USA Lancaster University Management School (visiting)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Ownership, Ego, Sharing, and Counterfeiting Russell W. Belk University of Utah, USA Lancaster University Management School (visiting)

2 What (if anything) is wrong with buying a fake Luis Vuitton Handbag? Is counterfeiting new? Brand forgery is newest Preceded by Money forgery Preceded by Art forgery Preceded by Notions of Specific Individuals as the sources of art Preceded by the Rise of Possessive Individualism (at least in some cultures) All of Which are Preceded by Notions of Sharing Premise: Counterfeiting is an unauthorized sharing of brands

3 Sharing: An Alternative to Private Ownership Also Includes –Voluntary lending –Contractual renting –Gift-giving –Pooling & allocation of resources –Authorized use of public property –Unauthorized use by theft, vandalism, or trespass [Fan Tin Tsuen No. 250 Opening Hours: Noon-4 a. m. Outside catering order Phone # 24713184]

4 What we Share We can share things, places, people, pets, ideas, values, time, affection, animosity Excludes non-volitional coincidence involving things we dont own or control –Sharing a common place of birth –Sharing a language –Sharing a set of experiences

5 Sharing Defined The act and process of giving or losing what is ours to others for their use The act and process of receiving or taking something from others for our use When we share what we feel is ours, others come to feel it is at least partly theirs to use Use may be for an indefinite or prescribed period & for anothers exclusive use or for use by us as well as others Givers and receivers can be individuals or groups Distribution may or may not make the access to things more equal

6 Cultural Influences Sharing, possession, & ownership are all culturally learned behaviors In the West, possession & ownership learned first; sharing, fairness, justice later Australian aborigines learn sharing first –Vestigial effect from nomadic past –Led to difficulties with private cars & VCRs Culture also prescribes what is selfish vs. altruistic, generous vs. stingy, & fair vs. unfair

7 Mixed Effects of Sharing Recipient can feel grateful or hostile We may feel we get our fair share, more, or less Can reduce envy & foster feelings of community or create dependency & feelings of inferiority We may see sharing as a sincere effort to help or a sop Can take place within excess or insufficiency We may share broadly or narrowly

8 Impediments to Sharing Feelings of object attachment Cathecting objects as part of extended self (e.g., body organs) Materialism –The importance attached to possessions –Components: envy, possessiveness, non-generosity –Accounts of materialism in 4 cultures E.g., Christmas giving –From broad charitable giving –To narrow giving with the family

9 Sharing & the Museum Without Walls Fine art is Finite But it can be broadly distributed –Art Museums –Inexpensive copies What is the problem here? –Benjamins loss of aura –Denigrating reproduction, fraud, fake, forgery –Status hierarchies – e.g, Visiting Luxor in Egypt vs. Las Vegas, vs. books, Internet & postcards

10 Incentives to Share Intangibles Some of our intangibles are not legally ours – a view, an aisle seat, our song Other intangibles may be our property – ideas, designs, & various creations –Academic ideas – ours vs. plagiarized –Presenting & publishing = sharing –It also = the way to make them ours –We should give them rather than sell them –We are more apt to share with doctoral students –But sharing raw data = less likely –Others may admire our garden, but may not borrow our tools, seeds, & potting soil

11 Sharing without Losing A song, joke, body, digital files Copies of books, journals, or videos The online gift economy –Linux, Napster, freeware –BBSs, chat rooms, web sites Why share in these virtual communities? –Keeping while giving (Weiner) –Cheap altruism (Coyne) –Utilitarianism –True hi-tech gift economy

12 Intangible Sharing Communities Marker goods Sports fans, music fans, brand cults Proselytizing & recruiting members Feeling of minority status, persecution, & uniqueness iPod?

13 Case in Point: The Grateful Dead Long known for tapers freely trading (not selling) concert tapes Evolved into digital downloading But in late November, 2005, GD did an about face & told Live Music Archive to stop making it available Fan uproar caused a partial reversal But GD already suggested shift –From Internet as cornucopia –To Internet as pay-per-play jukebox

14 Brand Grateful Dead The Dead had created an anarchy of trust, going not by statute but by instinct and turning fans into co-conspirators, spreading their music and buying tickets, T-shirts and official CDs to show their loyalty. The new approach…changes that relationship….The change also downgrades fans into the customers they were all along. It removes…brand value from the Deads legacy by reducing them to one more band with products to sell (Jon Pareles, The Deads Gamble: Free Music for Sale NYT, December 3, 2005.

15 Incentives to Share Tangibles School boys/girls sharing clothing Leveraged lifestyles –Lease vs. buy car –RealNetworks Rhapsody –Blockbuster, Netflix Virtual Renting –eBay & flipping (cell phone, computer, iPod, sports equipment) –Calloway –Bag, Borrow, or Steal –Buy, rip, sell CDs

16 Other Tangible Sharing Incentives Family heirlooms & extended self Sharing within the family Group sharing (e.g., time-share homes) Institutional sharinge.g., –Museums –National Parks But, beware the tragedy of the commons

17 Involuntary Sharing: Counterfeiting Unlike graffiti or vandalism in intent Sometimes condoned by the brand counterfeited (e.g., Hilfiger, Nike, Polo) Usually strongly opposed A victimless crime? Justifications –Robin Hood –Decency –Righting the crimes of rapacious capitalism Those who buy are not usually in the target market Imitation may flatter Helping entrepreneurs in the less affluent world Helping consumers in the less affluent world

18 Problematizing Brand Counterfeiting Grades of Counterfeits Counterfeits as Better than the real thing as defined by to intellectual property laws Ranges of counterfeits –BeveragesPepsi, 1 st Growth Bordeaux –Designer brandsfacsimiles vs. ironic (Baudrillards simulacrum vs. fake or Joshua Glenns fake authenticity--Hermenaut) –Motorcycles (5 of 6 Yamaha bikesRana, SSRN) or aircraft parts –PharmaceuticalsViagra vs. AIDS drugs

19 Conclusions Social desirability of sharing –E.g., U.S. home ownership (> 2/3) –Why? Community, civil obedience, investment –Why not? ID through things vs. people, Bowling Alone, financial security vs. social security, economic capital vs. social capital –Privatization of the nuclear family – radio, TV, car, computers, bathroom, meals, bank accounts & credit cards Compensatory rise of virtual communities & online sharing

20 Conclusions Social desirability of renting –Spouse –Womb –Soldiers –Children Online sharing vs. intellectual property laws vs. public access; dreams of free access Post-materialism, VS, downshifting, dematerializing, experience economy? One boom U.S. rental market: storage Business may lead the way with the virtual corporation

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