Of Guilds and Men: Copyright Workarounds in the Cinematographic Industry
Porcin, A., “Of Guilds and Men: Copyright Workarounds in the Cinematographic Industry” (2012) 35:1 Hastings Commun. & Ent. L. J. 1
The motion picture industry utilizes a varied collection of more or less formal mechanisms for dealing with the collective nature of audiovisual works, ranging from collective bargaining to legal presumptions. What these instances of copyright workarounds have in common is that they are all about circumventing traditional notions of authorship (the right to be deemed the author of a work) and ownership (the right to exert control over a work). When considered from an international perspective, the cinematographic industry is fertile ground for an exploration of such mechanisms.
After a recitation of the Berne Convention, this paper will proceed to discuss countries where the Berne Convention has been applied to audiovisual works with drastically different results: France and the United States. From there it will retrace the history of the so-called Foreign Levies Agreement. This agreement illustrates the collision of the French and American copyright workarounds. It was born from, inter alia, a dispute between the Directors’ Guild of America (“DGA”), the Writers’ Guild of America (“WGA”) and several movie producers upon the collection and distribution of foreign levies to American authors. This study will then discuss the contractual agreements between collective management organizations and guilds, and delineate underlying issues of collective action in this context.
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