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Co-creation and ambiguous ownership within virtual communities: the case of the Machinima community



This research contributes to a gap in our understanding of value and its cocreation by empirically investigating issues related to ambiguities of legal ownership of cocreated outputs from a virtual experience environment and the subsequent consequences of these on value creation. The context is Machinima, the making of original content using the content of computer games engines wherein a games developer and members of a virtual community simultaneously collaborate to generate and distribute content thus potentially creating tension around ownership and authorship. The investigation had three aims. The first objective was to provide a holistic gestalt of how value is cocreated, transformed, transferred and consumed when the roles of consumer and producer become ‘blurred’. The second objective was to examine how legal ‘ambiguity’ of ownership potentially acts as an enabler of creativity within such contexts. The final objective was to develop a better understanding of the social, economic and legal determinants and consequences of such ambiguity on ownership as both an experience and an implicit legal arrangement. Taken holistically, the findings suggest the ambiguous nature of ownership from a legal perspective contributes and informs creative endeavour from both an organisational and community perspective. Within the context of this investigation, ownership ambiguity paradoxically may provide an on-going environment in which value creation processes beneficial to both participant and developer flourish. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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