Digital media communication, intellectual property, and the commodification of language
The discursive construction of fansub work
Focusing on fansubbing, the production of unauthorized subtitles by fans of audiovisual media content, this paper calls for a more serious sociolinguistic analysis of the political economy of digital media communication. It argues that fansubbing’s contentious position within regimes of intellectual property and copyright makes it a useful context for considering the crucial role of language ideology in global capitalism’s expanding reach over communicative activity. Through a critical analysis of Korean discourses about fansubbing, this paper considers how tensions between competing ideological conceptions of fansub work shed light on the process by which regimes of intellectual property incorporate digital media communication as a site for profit. Based on this analysis, the paper argues for the need to look beyond the affordances of digital media in terms of translingual, hybrid, and creative linguistic form, to extend our investigations towards language ideologies as a constitutive element in the political economy.
Keywords: fansubbing, political economy, intellectual property, copyright, language ideology, South Korea
Published online: 22 October 2019
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