Access shrugged: The Decline of the Copyleft and the Rise of Utilitarian Openness

Aram Sinnreich, Patricia Aufderheide, Maggie Clifford, Saif Shahin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This article maps patterns of interest in key terms associated with copyright and online culture in the US context. Using exploratory factor analysis of data from Google Trends, authors examined patterns in keyword searches between 2004 and 2019. The data show three distinct periods of interest. The first period consists of utopian, cause-driven search terms; the second marks a rise and eventual decline in creatively motivated, maker-fueled searches; and the third is characterized by rising utilitarian and institutional interest in accessible copyrighted material. These data show empirically that the public curiosity about alternatives to strict copyright have changed during the study period. Earlier, more idealistic movements contrast with later, more practical approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3466-3490
JournalNew Media & Society
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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