Authorship, Copyright and Production Studies (OOR Workshop)

26 June 2011, Bergen, Norway

On 26 June 2011 a workshop on Production Studies was held at the Department for Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen. Academics from different backgrounds shed their light on authorship and the role of contemporary copyright. The invited experts gave talks, with much time devoted to discussion.

  • Helle Porsdam – University of Copenhagen
    Helle Porsdam’s presentation, “Of Authorship and Accountability: The Role of Copyright”, focused on the ways in which digital technologies are transforming authorial practices and notions, particularly on the internet. Drawing on the emerging discipline of digital humanities, she contrasted observations and points of view from a number of recent scholarly works, utopian as well as dystopian, such as UCLA’s Digital Humanities Manifeso 2.0, Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, Jerome Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget and Brian Christian’s The Most Human Human. Porsdam broached a number of issues that are both highly topical and of relevance to the HERA project, like the wisdom of crowds, distributed models of authorship and scholarship, non-authorial art, and open source publishing. By reviewing this recent scholarship, Porsdam raised several intriguing questions: To what extent is copyright necessary to preserve the authenticity of the original? Is open access detrimental to creativity? Does collective authorship forsake consistency of point of view and style? Is the public entitled to know who has made a statement? Are remix practices a valid form of expression or trite theft?
  • Dominique Pasquier – Paris Tech
    Building on her empirical work in the area of collective mananagement of copyright revenues in the French television sector, Dominique Pasquier’s presentation sparked debate about changing conceptions of authorship, relative value and power relations within creative communities. The professional organisations of French authors of dramatic works which decides on the remuneration of fees for tv airing, had to transform several times its definition of ‘original work’, which is the best paid category, in order to adapt to new forms of tv series production. The analysis of copyright classifications of works over the period 1980-2010 is one way to understand the dilemma and dead ends when trying to reconcile traditional definitions of original works and new industrial and narrative constraints.
  • Paul Sellors – Edinburgh Napier University
    Examined the underlying, somewhat incompatible principles of hermeneutic, legal (UK) and empirical definitions of authorship. He considered the distinction between film as business and as artistic expression, a distinction at the heart of Mutual Film Cooperation v. Ohio State Censorship Ordinance case, heard in the US Supreme Court (1915), which still resonated through our understanding of film authorship. No longer considered incompatibel, both sides of this distinction are now enshrined in the UK Copyright act (CPDA 1988), with the producer and principle director recognised as joint authors. This combination seems to recognise film as both enterpreneural and artistic, a move which appears consistent with an empirical analysis of authorship. However, by considering the director as joint author, copyright law rests on a critical assumption about ‘the director’ evident in the debate about censorship of The Birth of A Nation (1915) and in the pages of journals such as Cahiers du cinema, rather than on the empirical analysis of the production and communication of ideas granted tot the makers of other artistic works.
  • Peter Decherney – University of Pennsylvania
    In practice fair use (the US doctrine that allows certain uses of copyrighted materials, e.g. for transformative works, criticism) is shaped by myths and urban legends as well as case-law. Big copyright holders are aware of that. Based on his work in studying communicative strategies in the US audiovisual sector involving copyright claims, Peter Decherney presented a paper on how video makers and copyright holders use extra-legal means to communicate the boundaries of fair use.
  • Helge Rønning – Oslo University
    In his presentation, “The Significance of Copyright for Society”, Helge Rønning offered a broad discussion of the importance of IPRs, which have an impact on the lives of people all over the world. Despite their importance, however, Rønning finds that many people, including politicians and lawyers, have an insufficient understanding of the implications of IPRs. Rønning brought to light the difficulties that the Thirld World faces due to the fact that copyright largely resides with western multinational companies. Furthermore, Rønning outlined the stakes in the conflict between public interest and copyright-holders, a conflict that has only deepened in the digital era. He argued that it is important to consider copyright both from a national and an international perspective. Rønning is in favor of a strong public service system for information, and warned against a commercially based system in where the state functions as a guarantor for the provision of information in the market place. In Rønning’s view this is beneficial to big corporations but detrimental to creators and users.
  • Leif Ove Larsen – University of Bergen

Research team members present:

  • Jostein Gripsrud – University of Bergen
  • Erlend Lavik – University of Bergen
  • Mireille van Eechoud – University of Amsterdam
  • Bernt Hugenholtz – University of Amsterdam
  • Stef van Gompel – University of Amsterdam
  • Lionel Bentley – University of Cambridge
  • Laura Biron – University of Cambridge