Ownership and Authorship in Copyright Law (A Proposal to Re-Categorise Works and a Digital Implementation)
Hammad, Hayssam Mohammed Saber Abdallah
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
For publishing papers derived from the thesis.
The thesis argues that there is a pressure on the authorship concept since the emergence of collections of facts, anthologies, and adaptations of pre-existing works. These works were the reason that Judges offered various interpretations to authorship and originality, as some Judges lessened the requirement of originality to obtain copyrightability for these works and some raised it. This led to make the protection granted by copyright law to intellectual works vague and uncertain. This became apparent in conflicts in courts decisions on copyright subsistence in works. This subsequently led to confusion around the criteria of interpretation that should be adopted and the theory or justification that copyright law is founded upon. The thesis argues that this vagueness and uncertainty is related not to the authorship concept but to the failure of law to adapt to two separate natures of works, one including authorial, mental and personal contribution and the other only including manually skilful contribution. Those two kinds cannot be subject to same principles or justifications of protection. The inexistence of such differentiation in doctrine, judiciary and legislation led to the distortion of authorship and originality concepts in the attempts to reduce their interpretation to suit those works that actually miss authorial contribution. Alternatively, whole attention was paid to granting ownership to right holders of these works, which led to the prevalence of the ownership concept as being a necessity for the marketability of cultural works over the authorship concept. The thesis finds that this difference in nature can be uncovered by settling on a differentiation between two kinds of skills that are used in creating works: the mental skills, which are authorial skills, on the one side, and manual skills, which are the collecting, combining, performing or executing skills, on the other. Accordingly, this thesis proposes a categorisation of works, that of ‘high, low and non-authorship’ works, which relies on the nature of the works and elements of authorship in the work. The thesis finds that every category of works needs a separate criterion that can suit its nature and constituent authorship elements; also, the protection needs to be graded depending on the level of authorship in the work. This thesis suggests that such a legal proposition be implemented digitally in what it calls the ‘Digital Cultural National Gate’, which decides the category the work should belong to and the correspondent protection, and that through some questionnaires on the work the authorship elements can be recognised.
Egyptian Government, Ministry of Higher Education, represented by The Egyptian Cultural Office in London.
PhD in Law