Does copyright protect or hinder innovation and creativity in the media and cinematic arts?

Nowadays, we define the notion of copyright as being a property right, by evoking the notion of intellectual property. Therefore, we relate the rights liked to copyright to a general principle of property, when the fact is that copyright is about rights attributed to an individual author.

Copyright may also covers diverse things, from books to labels from cans, books, software, pantomimes, music records etc.. The term ‘author’ can also signify a company.

The original concept of copyright was the regulation and protection of a particular industry; publishing and book trade, by attributing to the author a temporary printing privilege.

But the notion of copyright progressively transformed and our institution changed along with it.

In the twenty-first century, policy and jurisprudence evolves and builds a broader view concerning rights accorded through a brand new definition of copyright; intellectual creation. A kind of intangible asset, which could give to the owner of the media an exclusive right of control.

Does this exclusive right of control protect of hinder innovation and creativity?

In ‘digital speech and democracy’ the professor Balking gives us a compelling map of reasoning concerning digital speech. Indeed, Balking encourages the reader not to take into consideration the innovation aspect of technology but to rather observe it’s salience. Indeed, the preponderance of technology ‘highlight the cultural and participatory features of freedom of expression’ which give the opportunity to people all around the world to actively participate to the democratic culture by spreading their opinions and ideas. Therefore it is clear that the Internet plays an important role with altering the social position of expression. According to the author, democratic culture highlights freedom of expression thought these main points; ‘Freedom is participation. Freedom is distribution. Freedom is interaction. Freedom is the ability to influence and be influenced. Freedom is the ability to change others and to be changed as well.’ By taking into consideration the rise of mass media, Balking explains how the Internet defies media through what he calls routing around and glomming around (Balkin, 2004)

Routing around means that Internet gives people the opportunity to directly spread their ideas to a large audience with no obstacles. Glooming around means that the Internet also allows people to use, manipulate, appropriate the information in mainstream media as a platform for transformation and critics. For example Disney didn’t need to ask permission to produce ‘le Bossu de Notre-Dame’ or ‘Pocahantas’. These piece where submitted to copyright but this is not the case anymore since the US they are protected in a defined period of time.These new revisited version of Notre Dame de Paris and Pocahantas are creative, innovative and more suitable to modern society’s youth.

Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831
Le bossu de Notre-Dame, 1996

To go back to the Balkins analysis, it is even more interesting in developing countries such as Lebanon where our institutions limit access to freedom of expression. Indeed, by posting on the Internet, bloggers go beyond restrictive licensing and publishing laws.

However the ‘openess’ of digital archive can also have negative impact.

Indeed, “Pictures do not freeze memory,” writes Beatrice Fleury­Vilatte, “they engage the process of memory into a dialectic of tensions” (1997, 23). While the manipulation of information though the media landscape opens up various analysis, in the case of the Israeli national pictures collection, copyright firmly forbid any kind of image association with ‘heterodox regimes of signification, belief and ideology’.

This is a good example to demonstrate how religious, cultural, milirary and political clash can challenge an acccesisble difgital archive and an unrestricted copyright system.

It is also important to mention that ‘European copyright legislation has systematically fallen short of enabling European citizens to fully participate in the digital public space and access, enjoy and explore a significant part of their cultural heritage.’(Europeana, 2014, p. 7).

Indeed, since 2008 the launch of a unique European access-point was the single important idea to seek the European citizens needs.EC officials documents purposely omit to make available other digitalized heritage documents. Europeana’s plans was to “transform the world with culture” (Europeana, 2014, p. 7). However, ‘it is an economic rather than social benefit projected, proposing uplifting tourism numbers to a culturally connected Europe’ (Europeana, 2014, p. 19).

Finally it is important to mention that the role of copyright goes beyond the role of laws and institutions for It has the power to spread and share archive to a larger public. Copyright plays an important role in culture making and diffusion of cultural ideologies. Institution should be aware about the fact that‘open’ digital archives can also give lead to ‘creative re-used of archived works for not-for-profit ends, assuming they meet the criteria of the three-step test, according the Berne Convention (UN United Nations, 1979). These 3 criteria are characterized by fair use, fair dealing, and exceptions and limitations systems which meticulously restraint the private rights copyright owners have to reproduce their work for a determined time period. If the use of copyrighted content is determined to be “fair” or is within an enumerated set of exceptions and limitations, then it does not constitute an infringement. All these systems allow users to make a partial or full copy of copyrighted work, even where the copyright holder has not given explicit permission or objection to the use of the work.


Digital Speech and Democratic Culture: A Theory of Freedom of Expression for the Information Society

Framing Openness: The Digital Circulation of Israel’s National Photographic Memory

Electronic frontier innovation: The Three-Step Test retrieved from

Lawrence Lessig(20015) L’avenir des idées: le sort des biens communs à l’heure des réseaux numériques

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