Exposing Professionalism in United States Copyright Law: The Disenfranchised Lay Public in a Semiotic Democracy
66 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2015 Last revised: 20 Oct 2015
Date Written: April 24, 2015
The article contributes to the contemporary critique of copyright law in two ways. First: existing literature focuses on the images of the author as a "romantic genius" or as a property owner. This paper points out that there is a third image of the author in copyright law – that of an "expert author". By exposing how professionalism is ingrained in copyright law's rhetoric of progress, quality work and justifiable economic compensation, the paper shows that the institution of copyright redistributes not merely material resources, but also symbolic resources in society (i.e. prestige, credibility, and power in cultural production). Secondly, the exposure of professionalism enables us to understand a tactic the incumbent copyright industry uses to discredit collaborative projects and to continue championing a restrictive copyright regime. Exposing professionalism helps to re-orient knowledge and power in culture production, and is therefore key to a robust semiotic democracy.
Keywords: Copyright, Authorship, Joint Work, Peer Production, Free Culture, Semiotic Democracy, Professionalism, Expert, Symbolic Power
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