Copyright and Creativity: Authors and Photographers

13 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2003

See all articles by Douglas A. Galbi

Douglas A. Galbi

Federal Communications Commission

Date Written: October 2003


The history of the occupations "author" and "photographer" provides an insightful perspective on copyright and creativity. The concept of the romantic author, associated with personal creative genius, gained prominence in the eighteenth century. However, in the U.S. in 1900 only about three thousand persons professed their occupation to be "author." Self-professed "photographers" were then about ten times as numerous as authors. Being a photographer was associated with manufacturing and depended only on mastering technical skills and making a living. Being an author, in contrast, was an elite status associated with science and literature. Across the twentieth century, the number of writers and authors grew much more rapidly than the number of photographers. The relative success of writers and authors in creating jobs seems to have depended not on differences in copyright or possibilities for self-production, but on greater occupational innovation. Creativity in organizing daily work is an important form of creativity.

Keywords: Copyright, authors, writers, photography, intellectual property, occupations

JEL Classification: J44, K, N32, O34, Z10

Suggested Citation

Galbi, Douglas, Copyright and Creativity: Authors and Photographers (October 2003). Available at SSRN: or

Douglas Galbi (Contact Author)

Federal Communications Commission ( email )

445 12th St. SW
Washington, DC 20554
United States
202-418-1556 (Phone)


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