contribution by Yannick:
I've come across an article about "sharing" by Russell Belk. It's quite scientifical, but he makes some interesting remarks about the nature of sharing which can be valuable in regard to the free music-debate.
According to Belk sharing is a fundamental consumer behavior. He gives the example of sharing with household members like we do with food, but also homes, furnishings, resources and other belongings are being shared frequently. Also besides the family-context, sharing things like recipes, directions, travel tips and other information is often more the rule than the exception. However, sharing is is often overlooked or confused with commodity exchange or gift giving. In this study he explores the differences between these different forms from a primarily economical point of view. He writes that there are no absolute
distinctions between these categories but they're rather sharing fuzzy boundaries. For example, both sharing and gift giving have some elements that make them more communal, loving and caring than pure marketplace exchange, but sharing differs from gift-giving in the non-receprocal character of the action. "The infant who receives his or her mother's nurturing care and sustenance does not incur a debt. Nor does the child who receives food, shelter, and love from parents receive an itemized bill upon leaving the nuclear family home", says Belk.
Societal changes can affect the nature of sharing, notes Belk. Examples of threats to sharing may be the individualization of family phones and meals, the decline of free public education, and the shrinking of public broadcasting.
On the other hand, the Internet provides many healthy models for increased sharing. Belk notes that forums, bulletin boards, blogs, social networking sites, wikis, open-source software development projects, and websites where people share expertise, advice, and opinions all contribute to a sharing community.
This online sharing environment however is threatened by a corresponding increase in intellectual property rights. Sharing versus proprietary ownership has entered a new and important era of contest in the digitalised society.
Belk provides some suggestions for promoting sharing in today's world. "I suggest that two keys to promoting contemporary sharing are an expanded sense of self that embraces other people more than other things and a greater sense of 'sharing in,' where possessions are seen as ours rather than mine and yours," Belk concludes.