James Meese conducts research on media and communications law and policy. He is currently leading a research project on consumer rights to personal data. His research has been published in Television and New Media, Mobile Media and Communication and various edited collections. His two books are Authors, Users, Pirates: Subjectivity and Copyright Law (MIT Press) and Death and Digital Media (Routledge, co-authored). He co-edited Geoblocking and Global Video Culture (available here) and is also Associate Editor of the Open Access interdisciplinary journal Culture Unbound.
Can supervise: YES
Social Media Practices
Sport and Media
Death and Digital Media provides a critical overview of how people mourn, commemorate and interact with the dead through digital media. It maps the historical and shifting landscape of digital death, considering a wide range of social, commercial and institutional responses to technological innovations. The authors examine multiple digital platforms and offer a series of case studies drawn from North America, Europe and Australia. The book delivers fresh insight and analysis from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on anthropology, sociology, science and technology studies, human-computer interaction, and media studies. It is key reading for students and scholars in these disciplines, as well as for professionals working in bereavement support capacities.
Meese, J 2018, Authors, Users, and Pirates Copyright Law and Subjectivity, MIT Press.
An examination of subjectivity in copyright law, analyzing authors, users, and pirates through a relational framework.
© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. This article presents early findings from a study examining the introduction of subscription video on demand (SVOD) services to the Australian market from the perspective of the Australian home. Through a series of group interviews with nine 'early adopter' households in Melbourne and Sydney, I detail how these services entered the home and contribute to changing habits and practices around media consumption and access. These interviews reveal that despite the 'mobile' promise of SVOD services, households still view the television as a central site for communal media consumption. This consumption is also becoming increasingly legal, with participants engaging in less copyright infringement after subscribing. While many households are still using circumvention tools to access overseas libraries, this is highly dependent on the presence of a digitally literate householder.
© 2016 Taylor & Francis. This article argues that everyday media practices are foundational to regulation on social media platforms. Beginning from a practice theory perspective, supported by qualitative research conducted on Facebook and Reddit, this paper shows how individual interactions with the platform and with other people on the site shape central regulatory norms on these sites. We suggest that our focus on practice complements existing studies that consider how regulation operates on social media platforms and shows how both practices and algorithms operate in conversation with one another in order to govern these sites. This research sets out an alternative trajectory of regulation, which is not based in law or privately established processes (such as EULAs, ToS or flags) but instead one grounded in the everyday practices of sociality, reciprocity, and perhaps even the maintenance of a particular community ideal.
Kennedy, J, Meese, J & Van Der Nagel, E 2016, 'Situating research, situating practice: New voices in cultural research', Continuum, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 143-145.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Meese, J & Mow, IC 2016, 'The regulatory jewel of the South Pacific: Samoa's decade of telecommunications reform', Mobile Media and Communication, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 295-309.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© The Author(s) 2016. During the last decade Samoa significantly reformed its telecommunications sector. It introduced a new competitor—Digicel—into the market, privatised the state-owned company SamoaTel (now Bluesky Samoa) and established an independent regulator. These reforms have had a dramatic impact on mobile usage in Samoa, and now mobile phones and regular Internet access have become an everyday (and affordable) reality for a vast majority of the population. This paper provides a critical account of one of the most mature mobile markets in the Pacific region. Drawing on semistructured key informant interviews with individuals in the Samoan telecommunications sector and the public service (conducted in April 2014), the paper explores the emergence of a Samoan digital culture, a transformation which has only been possible thanks to the widespread take up of mobile phones on 3G networks. We outline how mobiles are being used in Samoa, the ways in which they integrate (or don't) wiThexisting social and cultural norms and discuss the wider infrastructural issues that have emerged in light of this increased usage. We end by reflecting on what the Samoan experience can tell us about telecommunications reform in developing countries more generally.
Meese, J., Wilken, R., Nansen, B. & Arnold, M. 2015, 'Entering the graveyard shift: Disassembling the australian TiVo', Television and New Media, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 165-179.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© The Author(s) 2013. This article analyzes the operation and subsequent failure of TiVo in Australia. Drawing on actor-network theory, we unpack the TiVo assemblage throughout our paper, and look at the various human, technical, and institutional interventions that constituted it and constrained its possible futures. This analysis will be conducted by tracing how TiVo attempted to establish itself as a viable social and technical assemblage and assessing its influence on "new locales of regulation, new practices, new ethical stances, and new institutions." Our approach offers an inclusive analytical lens by considering how a collection of actors - large and small, human and nonhuman - were actively involved in assembling and disassembling the network required by TiVo for an ongoing presence in Australia. It also contributes to a growing body of work that outlines the usefulness of ANT to media studies scholarship.
Gibbs, M, Meese, J, Arnold, M, Nansen, B & Carter, M 2015, '#Funeral and Instagram: death, social media, and platform vernacular', Information, Communication and Society, vol. 18, pp. 255-268.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This paper presents findings from a study of Instagram use and funerary practices that analysed photographs shared on public profiles tagged with '#funeral'. We found that the majority of images uploaded with the hashtag #funeral often communicated a person's emotional circumstances and affective context, and allowed them to reposition their funeral experience amongst wider networks of acquaintances, friends, and family. We argue that photo-sharing through Instagram echoes broader shifts in commemorative and memorialization practices, moving away from formal and institutionalized rituals to informal and personalized, vernacular practices. Finally, we consider how Instagram's 'platform vernacular' unfolds in relation to traditions and contexts of death, mourning, and memorialization. This research contributes to a broader understanding of how platform vernaculars are shaped through the logics of architecture and use. This research also directly contributes to the understanding of death and digital media by examining how social media is being mobilized in relation to death, the differences that different media platforms make, and the ways social media are increasingly entwined with the places, events, and rituals of mourning.
Hutchins, B, Meese, J & Podkalicka, A 2015, 'Media sport: Practice, culture and innovation', Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy: quarterly journal of media research and resources, vol. 155, pp. 66-69.
This article introduces the special issue on Media Sport: Practice, Culture and Innovation, and outlines the overall objectives and focus of the eight collected essays. The tripartite of 'practice, culture and innovation' encapsulates emerging themes in the study of media sport that connect with core (inter-)disciplinary concerns in and around communications and media studies: (1) media practice and what people do in relation to media; (2) the role of television, digital platforms, social networking, mobile media, apps and wearable media devices in the constitution of media cultures; and; (3) how both these issues relate to broadly articulated conceptions and processes of innovation. These articles add to a rich tradition of media sport research that stretches back four decades, as well as two previous special issues of Media International Australia published on sports media (in 1995 and 2011). They also continue the important process of renewing this tradition by the inclusion of new and established researchers based in Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and Spain, and analytical perspectives that draw selectively upon media studies, television studies, cultural studies, media anthropology, social psychology and economics.
This article argues that recent scholarly attempts to prescribe creative agency to a user subject rarely consider how the user functions in a broader legal and cultural context. I suggest that the user is a complex subject defined by various cultural and legal discourses, following a critical body of scholarship that calls for a more nuanced approach to the issue of user production. I show how the user-a term often treated neutrally in the user production literature-is a subject that is already defined by extant legal discourses like copyright. This argument is developed in a detailed analysis of Canadian copyright law and the Copyright Modernization Act, a reform to Canadian copyright law, which attempted to address the phenomenon of user production. These examples show the user is embroiled in a broader set of creative politics where being defined as a user or an author can have commercial implications. I suggest greater specificity and qualification around the role and scope of the user is needed in future scholarship examining the phenomenon of user production.
Meese, J & Podkalicka, A 2015, 'Practices of media sport: Everyday experience and audience innovation', Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy: quarterly journal of media research and resources, no. 155, pp. 89-98.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Media sport has a long history as a significant site of media innovation, and existing work in media and cultural studies has explored how media sport, technological innovation and regulatory frameworks interact. However, this work often focuses on how major actors such as broadcasting organisations, sporting bodies and telecommunications companies mediate sport. As a complementary strategy to this 'top-down' analysis, we approach media sport through the lens of practice, which allows us to understand everyday forms of engagement with, and consumption of, media sport in a clearer fashion. The article analyses existing policy discourses and social commentaries centred on the targeted 'high-quality' or 'high-tech technological' innovation, and argues that users of sports media are also motivated by series of cultural rewards and varied tradeoffs that do not map neatly onto industrial categories of quality or media consumption trends
Meese, J, Gibbs, M, Carter, M, Arnold, M, Nansen, B & Kohn, T 2015, 'Selfies at Funerals: Mourning and Presencing on Social Media Platforms', International Journal of Communication, vol. 9, pp. 1818-1831.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
In late 2013, the journalist and social commentator Jason Feifer created an Internet sensation
when his Tumblr blog Selfies at Funerals went viral (Feifer, 2013a). On October 29, Feifer posted 20
images selected from Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, the result of 'social media curiosity' and a search
of the terms '#selfie' and '#funeral' on these platforms. The images all featured young people 'turning
their cellphone cameras on themselves during one of life's most solemn moments' (Clark-Flory, 2013,
para. 1). Condemnation of these photographs quickly flooded online discussions and mass media outlets,
and the debate was typical of wider discourses around the selfie at the time (as noted in the introduction
to this issue). However, the funeral selfie was taken as one of the most debased forms, alongside other
so-called inappropriate selfies documented by Feifer, such as 'selfies at serious places' and 'selfies with
homeless people.' For many public commentators these images typified the superficial nature of young
digital media users and epitomized their vanity, conceit, and lack of respect (Jolivet, 2013; Moss, 2013;
Wells, 2013). Others suggested that social media had emptied death of meaning, solemnity, and
gravitas—with one prominent online publication running the doomsday banner headline 'Funeral Selfies
Are The Latest Evidence Apocalypse Can't Come Soon Enough' (The Huffington Post, 2013).
Meese, J, Nansen, B, Kohn, T, Arnold, M & Gibbs, M 2015, 'Posthumous personhood and the affordances of digital media', Mortality, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 408-420.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This article identifies and outlines some of the more prominent ways that digital media can extend one's personhood following death. We consider three examples: when the digital persona of the deceased continues to interact with the living through a human surrogate; the emergence of autonomous and semi-autonomous software enabling the dead to use social media to intervene in current events; and finally the operation of algorithmic presence services like Eterni.me, where artificial intelligence creates a re-enlivened form of the deceased. Situating these examples in relation to sociological, anthropological and cultural literature foundational to ideas of distributed personhood and posthumous symbolic immortality, we suggest that digital codes and computational texts stand as key sites for contemporary forms of 'distributed personhood', including posthumous personhood. We then extend this body of literature by examining how the discursive politics of social media contributes to a social and commercial context, which supports ongoing interactions with the dead online. Through this process, we suggest that the persona of the dead, which remains after bodily death, can continue to maintain meaningful posthumous relationships with the living, presenting a new perspective on how we interact with the dead through digital media.
Meese, J, Wilken, R, Nansen, B & Arnold, M 2015, 'Entering the Graveyard Shift: Disassembling the Australian TiVo', Television and New Media, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 165-179.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This article analyzes the operation and subsequent failure of TiVo in Australia. Drawing on actor-network theory, we unpack the TiVo assemblage throughout our paper, and look at the various human, technical, and institutional interventions that constituted it and constrained its possible futures. This analysis will be conducted by tracing how TiVo attempted to establish itself as a viable social and technical assemblage and assessing its influence on 'new locales of regulation, new practices, new ethical stances, and new institutions.' Our approach offers an inclusive analytical lens by considering how a collection of actors—large and small, human and nonhuman—were actively involved in assembling and disassembling the network required by TiVo for an ongoing presence in Australia. It also contributes to a growing body of work that outlines the usefulness of ANT to media studies scholarship
Podkalicka, A & Meese, J 2012, ''Twin transformations': The Salvation Army's charity shops and the recreating of material and social value', European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 15, pp. 721-735.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Meese, JM 2010, 'Resistance or Negotiation: An Australian Perspective on Copyright Law's Cultural Agenda', Computers and Composition, vol. 27, pp. 167-178.
Kohn, T, Arnold, M, Gibbs, M, Meese, JM & Nansen, B 2018, 'The Social Life of the Dead and the Leisured Life of the Living Online' in Kaul, A & Skinner, J (eds), Leisure and Death: An Anthropological Tour of Risk, Death, and Dying.
Lobato, R & Meese, J 2016, 'Australia: Circumvention Goes Mainstream' in Meese, J & Lobato, R (eds), Geoblocking and Global Video Culture, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, pp. 120-128.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Over the last decade Australia has become an unlikely hotspot of circumvention activity.
Frustrated by the high cost and slow delivery of first-release TV and movies from the United
States – and by their own self-perceived status as 'second-class' media citizens – Australians
have taken to offshore streaming with a singular enthusiasm, signing up for VPNs
and proxy services and using them to access US Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and BBC iPlayer.
Unlike many nations in the Asia-Pacific region, where circumvention has an overtly political
dimension, the conversation in Australia has revolved substantially around access to entertainment
rather than privacy, surveillance or censorship. Many Australians have acquired
a working knowledge of circumvention tools simply because they were unable to watch
episodes of their favourite television shows quickly and legally.
Take for example Game of Thrones and House of Cards, which have become massively
popular in Australia thanks to unauthorised streaming and torrenting. When these shows first
aired here they were only available as part of expensive packages with the pay-TV provider
Foxtel. In the case of Game of Thrones, episodes were initially screened up to a week after
their U.S. premiere (only later did they screen simultaneously, after a subscriber backlash).
House of Cards was likewise locked to a pay-TV bundle, as Netflix was unavailable in Australia
until 2015 and had sold the rights to Foxtel in the interim. Relatively few Australians
watched these shows through the authorised channels, yet everyone seemed to have seen the latest episodes. How? The answer is directly related to the boom in popular circumvention,
along with a longstanding national fondness for Bit Torrent. During the last few years
Australian tech websites have been abuzz with tips and tricks on how to evade geoblocks;
DNS routing services like Getflix and UnblockUS have attracted many Australian subscribers;
and VPN brands like HideMyAss and Witopia have...
Meese, J & Podkalicka, A 2016, 'Circumvention, Media Sport and the Fragmentation of Video Culture' in Meese, J & Lobato, R (eds), Geoblocking and Global Video Culture, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, pp. 74-85.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Lurid tales of football officials pocketing millions hit the headlines following the recent FIFA
scandals. The reporting rightly shone a light on corruption in football, but also drove home
a basic fact: sport is awash with money. This is largely because television networks spend
a significant amount on purchasing rights to major sporting events. To provide a few brief
examples, Fox Sports has paid over $400 million (USD) in 2011 for the rights to the 2018
and 2022 FIFA World Cups1
and NBC has paid $7.65 billion (USD) for the right to broadcast
the Olympics from 2022 to 2032 in the U.S.2
These sums are so large that nowadays
professional sporting clubs at the highest level earn the bulk of their income from the influx
of money earned from the sale of broadcasting rights, rather than from gate receipts or
Sport is able to demand this level of investment because there is a strong viewer preference
for mediated live sport, which in turn is a unique form of modern screen content. Live sport
is one of the last program genres that require people to watch it at a particular time. This is
unlike most other programs, which can be provided on-demand (as we have seen elsewhere
in this collection). This in turn means that live sport stands as a reasonable financial investment
for media companies. By purchasing exclusive rights to popular sporting contests,
networks will have access to an interested audience, which can be on sold to advertisers.
Rights deals between sporting organisations and television networks are managed through
a complicated geography of contractual agreements. Sporting organisations maximize their
income by selling limited exclusive rights to networks, allowing them to sell the same content
to multiple national markets. For example, the aforementioned $400 million World Cup deal
made in the United States of America, sits alongside other deals FIFA makes with broadcasters
in Australia, India and so on. This relationship provides benefits ...
Meese, J 2015, 'Google Glass and Australian Privacy Law: Regulating the Future of Locative Media' in Wilken, R & Goggin, G (eds), Locative Media, Taylor & Francis, New York, USA, pp. 137-147.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Meese, J 2014, 'The pirate imaginary and the potential of the authorial pirate.' in Arvantakis, J & Fredriksson, M (eds), Piracy: Leakages from Modernity, Litwin Books Llc, USA, pp. 19-38.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The figure of the pirate and acts of piracy themselves are most frequently defined
by their opposition and exception to the legal framework of copyright law.
However, the term 'pirate', used to describe those who have been seen breaching
such a legal framework, does not just evoke images of rows of computer towers in
a back room, adjacent to a pile of blank discs ready for commercial reproduction
and distribution, or the ubiquitous footage of the youthful and impressionable
'movie downloader' found on the beginning of DVDs (see Loughan 2008). It
also carries a deeper cultural resonance, reminding us of bands of renegades,
hijacking European ships returning from colonial outposts, or in the contemporary
era, of the two most evocative pirate imaginaries which exist concurrently:
The machine-gun wielding Somalian pirate – a martyr-rebel and a refugee of
globalization – or more humorously, Johnny Depp's, Keith Richards inspired,
Captain Jack Sparrow, the debonair star of the successful Walt Disney franchise
Pirates of the Caribbean (Ali and Murad 2009).
A podcast by Andreas Lind, Gary Hall, James Arvanitakis.
Meese, J 2014, 'Networked subjects: exploring the author, user and pirate through a relationalist lens.'.